If you have ever experienced upper back pain, you may have chalked it up to a muscle strain, sleeping in an uncomfortable position, or poor posture. While these are the most common causes of upper back pain, there may be other, less common causes for your discomfort. Here are three unusual causes for upper back pain and what you can do about them:
1. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
People who have been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, often experience heartburn, stomach pain, sore throat, dry cough, and even a stuffy nose. Some individuals, however, develop pain in the mid or upper back.
Stomach acid is extremely irritating to the esophagus and surrounds nerves and other structures. It is because of this that you may have upper back pain. Avoiding triggers such as drinking too much coffee, tomatoes, chocolate, peppermint, onions, or citrus fruits may help tame acid reflux disease, however, for muscle pain associated with GERD, chiropractic care, including massage therapy may help eliminate your pain. Massage can also help relieve stress and anxiety, which may also be associated with GERD.
If you have asthma, you are probably no stranger to wheezing, increased mucus production, and coughing. Because you use your accessory muscles when trying to breathe during an asthma attack, you may develop severe pain in your upper back.
Viscous mucus plugs in your lungs can also lead to pleural pain felt in the back. If you suffer from asthma or any other pulmonary disorder, see your doctor on a regular basis. Once your asthma is well-managed, you will not only breathe better; you will also notice a decrease in back pain.
It is important that you take your prescribed medications, including your inhalers and nebulizer treatments as ordered by your physician, however, if you still have symptoms, there are a few things you can do at home to augment your medical treatment plan.
For wheezing and back pain, take a hot shower and breathe in the steam. This will open up your airways, thin out thick mucous, relax your back muscles, and relieve coughing. If all else fails, drink a cup of strong black coffee. An ingredient in coffee is similar to a medication known as theophylline, a bronchodilator drug commonly used in the treatment of asthma.
3. Food Allergies
Certain foods have chemicals in their skins that can trigger a systemic inflammatory response. These are known as nightshades and include tomatoes, green peppers, and eggplant. If you develop muscle pain, backache, or joint pain after eating nightshade foods, you may be allergic and should avoid them.
If you enjoy nightshades and can't imagine eliminating them altogether from your diet, try cooking them, because high cooking temperatures may inactivate the pro-inflammatory chemical reaction caused by their skins.
If, however, eating nightshade foods causes other symptoms such as shortness of breath, swelling of your throat, tongue, or lips, hives, or chest pain, do not eat them, even when cooked. Also, if you have any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical attention.
If you have upper back pain, work with both your chiropractor and primary care physician to develop a therapeutic plan of care. When consulting with both of these disciplines, you will be integrating both conventional and alternative therapies to help improve your overall state of general health.