Back and Chest Pain

Medical conditions that cause both back and chest pain may include Angina, Myocardial infarction, Pericarditis, Esophageal Rupture, Esophageal contraction disorders, and Pancreatitis. The chest cavity and upper body houses several respiratory and digestive organs, many blood vessels, the bottom of the cervical (C-Spine), and the Thoracic (T-spine) spine. Medical problems that affect one of these organs may spread throughout the chest cavity and body, causing pain and other symptoms. The thoracic spine is directly involved with the protection and function of the respiratory system, as a stabilizing force at the back of the chest cavity. The thoracic spine is located in the back wall of the chest cavity and attaches to the posterior ribs.

Various conditions may cause chest pain, also known as chest discomfort, chest pressure, and chest tightness. Chest pain and resistance may be a symptom of a serious condition, such as a myocardial infarction, but more often than not is caused by some other factor. There are many blood vessels (e.g. pulmonary arteries and veins, aorta) respiratory organs (trachea, bronchi, and diaphragm) and digestive organs (esophagus, liver) located in the chest area of the body, and various medical conditions and trauma may cause pain throughout.

Chest Pain Symptoms: Your doctor will build your medical chart by looking at radiology images, conducting a hands-on examination, and asking you questions about how you feel. Chest pain involves discomfort sensations towards the front of the body, from the upper abdomen to the neck. Your doctor will run by you a list of symptoms to see if you suffer from one or more of them. He or she will ask you if these symptoms include:
  • Tight, squeezing, or crushing sensations
  • Stabbing
  • Burning
  • Sharp
  • Aching
  • Dull


The following list some of the most common causes of chest pain.

Heart Problems: Cardiac problems are the most concerning problems to consider, because the damage may become quickly irreversible if certain blockages and or blood flow issues are not corrected. The organs and tissues of the human body may be permanently damaged from minutes to even seconds if they are not supplied with oxygen blood from the blood vessels.

Angina: Angina literally translates to chest pain in medical terms. This type of chest pain is caused by blockages in the coronary blood vessels. The coronary blood vessels are those that supply the heart. Angina may cause pain in the chest, as well as in the head, neck, jaw, and arms. Angina is usually caused by coronary artery disease, but there may be other causes as well, including aortic stenosis.

Treatments for angina such as stent placement often help reduce chest pain, but they do not prevent a future heart attack.

Myocardial infarction (heart attack): A myocardial infarction is commonly known as a heart attack. Patients are typically aware of this event when it is happening, suffering from severe chest pain, as well as severe weakness, nausea, and sweating. This pain may be crushing and it typically won't be relieved by rest.

Pericarditis: The pericardium is the double walled sac containing the heart and its major blood vessels. Certain factors may trigger Pericarditis - an inflammation of the pericardium. This inflammation often produces sharp pain in the center of the chest that may radiate to the upper neck and shoulder muscles. These symptoms may increase when you lie down, swallow food, or when you take deep breaths.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): GERS is also known as acid reflux, which involved a malfunctioning valve to the stomach allowing for its reflex into the esophagus. This condition may be caused by sleep apnea, dietary factors, and other reasons. The acid of the stomach is burning and bitter, and may be corrosive to the esophagus and throat. The burning sensation in the chest or throat may be described as heartburn when this condition is involved. Causes of this condition include fatty or spicy foods, citrus drinks, pregnancy, smoking, and obesity.

Esophageal Rupture: Abuse of certain medications and violent vomiting may make the esophagus prone to esophageal rupture. Signs of an esophageal rupture include sudden and severe chest pain.

Esophageal contraction disorders: Esophagus problems that may cause chest pain may include high-pressure contractions (nutcracker esophagus) and uncoordinated muscle contractions (spasms).

Pancreatitis: The pancreas is located around the midline of the body. This organ is situated behind the stomach and has an orientation in line with the stomach. It is located between the T9-L1 spinal vertebrae. This organ has functions associated with the secretion of hormones and enzymes for digestion. Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. Chest pain in the right lower chest area that gets worse when you lie down may indicate acute Pancreatitis.