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Need Advise PLEASE! Can Back Pain affect Heart & Breathing(Asthma like symptoms)



  • When my ribcage gets tight, as if it's being pulled around from spasms in other areas of my back, my breathing gets very difficult. There are also a lot of pain meds (especially NSAIDS) that cause "ashtma-like" symptoms. Just my two bits' worth, but hope you get some answers. I know it's scary when it's happening.
  • I have a couple of the same symptoms the original poster described. The way he/she described it is exactly what I feel:

    "I kinda feel like my back & chest is being mildly squeezed."

    "...I got this feeling it's hard to breathe, sorda winded in my chest.."

    I've had three doctors tell me it's probably anxiety. (Do you know condescending that feels?) At least one of those doctors said that possibly inflammation of something near the nerve could chemically irritate the nerve. Neither doctor wanted to even consider the idea that I could have a damaged thoracic disc. Apparently that is a rare occurrence.

    Well, I am 99.9% certain it is NOT merely anxiety. I know what anxiety is. This is something REAL. Yesterday I was slicing some meat for my mother and we were talking about something when all of a sudden "out of the blue" it felt like there was something is in my trachea. Then, last night I'm in the shower and out of nowhere it happens again. It was so strong that time I had to cough. What I think is going on is that something is irritating a nerve in my upper back. That nerve is causing some "spasm" or something in my trachea which makes it feel like there is something in my trachea. My body automatically reacts to this feeling by trying expel whatever it thinks is in my trachea. So, I suddenly exhale or even cough. It only happens when the pain in my upper back starts up. Most of yesterday I didn't have this symptom, but then after driving the pain started up and so did the symptom.

    So far I've talked with my neurosurgeon, my pain management doctor, and an internal medicine doctor about this problem. I don't know where to turn next? Neurologist? Pulmonologist? Surely some doctor has seen this before.

    I've searched and searched and have found almost nothing about this symptom, so it seems to be very rare. Someday someone else is going to have these same symptoms and they are going to search online for information. I'm posting this so when that person searches they will know they are not alone and not crazy.
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  • This thread is old but.....
    CM said:
    Well, I am 99.9% certain it is NOT merely anxiety. I know what anxiety is. This is something REAL. ..............my mother and we were talking about something when all of a sudden "out of the blue" it felt like there was ........Then, last night I'm in the shower and out of nowhere it happens again ........ Most of yesterday I didn't have this symptom, but then after driving the pain started up and so did the symptom.
    Anxiety is real too and can cause these symptoms. In your last sentence you mention that after driving and the pain starting up, so did this symptom. That can be common too with pain causing anxiety. Just a thought.

  • Robin, it's interesting you made the point that anxiety is real. After I completed my post early this morning, it occurred to me that what I wrote implied I thought anxiety is not "real", but I didn't mean it that way, and I didn't think anyone would take it that way. Of course, I know anxiety is real and significant. You were were right to correct me. I did not mean to minimize the significance of anxiety, and I apologize to anyone who took it that way. What I was trying to say is simply that I believe the cause of the feeling I am having in my trachea is in my spine, not in my brain. (Please let's not get into the biology of perception.)

    I hope you are right, though. I am having a lot of anxiety :S about what is happening, but it seems the anxiety is the result of my concern about what is wrong, rather than the cause of what is wrong. My surgery is in the morning. I guess if the symptoms stop when they give me the anesthesia, that will be proof the cause is anxiety, not physical. If I have unusual breathing after they give me the anesthesia, then we'll know the cause is physical. And if that happens, the anesthesiologist will surely cancel the surgery. I'll be glad when this is resolved. #:S
  • That makes me think that you also have some reflux or something going on, especially when you said you had to cough. Before I had a stomach protectant (Pariet), I would have that same symptom, and it really did feel like a "spasm". Are you on any type of anti-inflammatory, and if so, are you taking something to protect your stomach?? I know this probably looks like it's off-track, but I think sometimes we have more than one or two things going on, so the symptoms can kind of "intertwine".

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  • You know your body best of course.. and I would not have said a word except that you put emphasis on the word REAL, and then I felt almost obligated. But no..I'm the one who is sorry, sorry if I offended you in any way at all.
    So many people suffer with anxiety, myself included, and sometimes my anxiety conflicts with other symptoms too, making it difficult at times to seperate my issues when I'm overly anxious.. can't even clarify this statement right now-lol.

    I hope that your surgery turned out ok and you are feeling better.


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    Post Edited by Moderator haglandc
  • Robin, TracyLynne,

    Thank you both for responding.

    Robin, no need to apologize. You did not offend me. You are right about anxiety. It does complicate things. Pain can cause anxiety that can cause more pain that can cause more anxiety, and on and on. It's a vicious circle, and it can be hard to break. I understand that.

    As for my surgery, it turned out okay. I had no breathing problems during surgery, as I was worried I might have. I talked with the anesthesiologist about my concerns before surgery. She told me something I didn't know: The anesthesia "paralyzes" your muscles, so you aren't breathing on your own during the surgery, at least that is how I understood what she told me. So, even if I did have some neurological problem that mildly affected my breathing, it didn't matter because I would be on a respirator anyway. The main thing is that I survived the surgery. I was so relieved when I woke up in recovery! Whew!

    The surgery seems to have resolved the symptoms (pain in my neck, muscle knots in my "traps", radiculopathy in my arms,hands and fingers) I was experiencing due to the nerve compression at C6/C7, but I am still in pain. The problem is that I'm not sure how much of the pain is normal post-surgery pain, and how much of it is attributable to an upper back stress/injury that occurred a mere 2 1/2 weeks before the surgery. The weird breathing/chest squeezing/winded sensation is one of the results of that new back injury, and the surgery did not change that symptom one whit. That weird symptom, the pain in my upper back, and the radiculopathy under my right armpit and in both triceps are all new. Those symptoms all started after the upper back incident, and the surgery does not seem to have had any effect on them.

    Thank you for your "out-of-the-box" thinking and suggestion, but, no, I am not taking any anti-inflammatory medications, and I've never had any problem with acid reflux. Also, I did start or stop any medications prior to the appearance of the breathing symptom. (By the way, I like the quote at the bottom of your post. :) It reminds me of another quote: "We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails." The quote has been attributed to several different people.)

    I wonder what "frankiemuniz01" posted?
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