What Causes Upper Back Pain
Upper back pain is usually caused by soft tissue injuries, such as sprains or strains, or muscle tension caused by poor posture or looking downward for long periods.
Poor posture and text neck can combine to wreck your upper back. Common behaviors and activities that can cause upper back pain include:
- Poor posture
- Spinal stenosis
- Cancers that affect the spine
Dont let that long list of potential, serious conditions alarm you too much. In younger patients and when I say young, I mean people up to their mid-60s its most commonly a strain, Dr. Knight says.
Is Shoulder Pain A Sign Of Lung Cancer
Sharp shoulder or scapula pain are some of the most common symptoms of a Pancoast tumor, particularly in its early stages. The pain typically develops as the tumor impacts one or more of the nearby structures, such as the:
- Ulnar nerve, which runs from the side of the arm to the wrist
- Branchial plexus, the nerve fibers that run downward from the spine and into the shoulder and arm
- Parietal pleura, the highly sensitive outer layer of the membrane that lines the chest cavity.
- Endothoracic fascia, the fibrous tissue that separates the chest wall from the diaphragm and the pleura
Shoulder pain can be a symptom of other lung cancers besides Pancoast tumors, typically if a lung tumor presses against a particular nerve or if the cancer travels to the tissues or bones near the shoulder joint.
Its important to note that shoulder pain is far more likely to be caused by an orthopedic condition, such as osteoarthritis or a rotator cuff injury, than lung cancer. Nevertheless, shoulder pain that persists for more than a few days should be evaluated by a medical professional. Shoulder discomfort that is related to lung cancer may worsen at night, be present while resting or occur without impacting range of motion. Lung cancer that is not classified as a Pancoast tumor may also cause a hacking cough, shortness of breath and wheezing, among other respiratory symptoms.
Patient With Rare Bone Cancer Receives Innovative Care At Scripps
For Rose Truong, nagging pain in her right shoulder had become a fact of life. Through the years shed heard it may have been caused by anything from a rotator cuff injury to frozen shoulder to stress to simply aging . Shed even been told it was because her purse was too heavy. Physical therapy and steroid injections should have helped, yet her shoulder pain got consistently worse.
What they were saying was kind of making sense, but it was lasting just a little bit longer each time, she says. Her pain progressed to a point where it was waking her up multiple times a night and the over-the-counter pain medicine and patches were no longer cutting it. By the time a doctor ordered an ultrasound, Truong had been dealing with intermittent shoulder pain for nearly four years. That doctor told her he suspected a torn rotator cuff.
I was just like, thank God, she says. Now its not in my head. For the first time someones given me something to work with.
Turning to Scripps for help
Around the same time, she learned that her entire department at work would be phased out in February 2020. She thought she was going to be laid off, so she had her newlywed husband add her to his insurance plan, though she ultimately ended up in a different position at the same company. Navigating a new health care system at the start of the pandemic wasnt ideal, but Truong was desperate. She was in so much pain, she had no choice but to seek medical care.
What is chondrosarcoma?
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Shoulder Blade Pain Symptoms
The shoulder blades are medically known as the scapulae. They’re triangular-shaped bones in your upper back. They stick out and become more visible when you move an arm toward your back.
The shoulder blades have many functions. One is to support pivotal movements of the shoulder.
If you have shoulder blade pain that lasts more than a few days, see your healthcare provider. Get checked even if you suspect an activity caused your pain.
Expected Symptoms Of Lung Cancer
Lung cancer produces symptoms that most people would expect. These symptoms are tied to the basic functions of our lungs. These symptoms include:
- Coughing. Coughing that doesnt go away or gets worse.
- Shortness of breath. Feeling out of breath, tightness in the chest, feeling like you cant breathe, or feeling you cant get enough air.
- Coughing up blood, phlegm, or mucus. Coughing up blood-tinged or rust-colored phlegm or mucus.
- Chest pain. Pain that gets worse with laughing, coughing, or deep breathing.
- Wheezing. Wheezing is that high-pitched whistling sound that happens when exhaling.
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Pain Moves From Your Chest To Your Back
One potential cause of back pain is a condition called costochondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage connecting your ribs to your breastbone. While lifting heavy items, respiratory infections, and chest injuries can cause it, often the source of the pain is unclear. You may feel pain that travels from your chest to your back. Definitely get checked out by your doctor, it often goes away without any treatment.
Pain And Tenderness In The Armpit
According to studies, the first place breast cancer spreads to is the axillary lymph nodes .
The axillary lymph nodes indicate breast cancer in the same way the lymph nodes in the neck and throat indicate a flu, making the axillaries an essential place for onset discovery.
The journal of Clinical Oncology reported about the significance of axillary lymph node metastasis in primary breast cancer saying that axillary lymph node status is the single most important prognostic variable in the management of patients with primary breast cancer.7
The American Cancer Society says that sometimes a breast cancer can spread to lymph nodes under the arm or around the collarbone and cause a lump or swelling there, even before the original tumor in the breast tissue is large enough to be felt.1 Therefore any pain or discomfort in the left or right armpit is something that should definitely be tested and you should also be aware of the other causes of armpit pain.
The first thing to do is to compare the painful armpit to the other armpit. If the difference is persistently evident, its worth consulting an expert.
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It Could Also Be Stress
Along with sub-par posture, strain in the muscles around the neck and shoulders or between the shoulder blades can be multi-factorial, says Kaliq Chang, MD, an interventional pain management specialist at the Atlantic Spine Center in West Orange, New Jersey. Most notably: stress, strenuous exercise, and sleeping with your neck in a weird position.
Back Pain : An Unknown Cancer Symptom
Lower back pain can be a symptom of cancer of the colon, rectum, or ovary that has metastasized into surrounding regions .
Throughout the back, tumors in the spinal column may cause back pain from expansion of the bone or from weakening the bone.
This in turn can cause spinal fractures, compression of the nerves, or spinal instability. Unlike occasional muscle pain, this causes tenderness and discomfort in the bones .
When the pain is felt between the shoulders, it may be a sign of esophageal cancer or lung cancer . Liver cancer has also been known to cause radiated pain in the back .
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Right Shoulder Blade Pain Is Common But Self
Pain is the body’s messenger signaling a potential problem that deserves our attention. Pain in certain areas of the body is more significant and avoiding any delay in seeking medical care is important. Pain in right shoulder blade can be caused by a range of processes, ranging from the non-worrisome benign to life-threatening.
When To Go To The Doctor
You cant always assume the discomfort is no big deal. If pain lingers for more than a few days or requires regular pain medications, you should be evaluated by your physician, says Leda Ghannad, MD, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and physical medicine and rehabilitation at Rush University Medical Center. Another sign: if the pain limits your abilities in your day-to-day life, like you have to call off work to stay in bed. Following are signs you need to get medical help, pronto.
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What Does Lung Cancer Shoulder Pain Feel Like
Shoulder pain from lung cancer is quite similar to other forms of shoulder pain. Because of this, it might be difficult to determine the cause of your shoulder pain.
If youve recently fallen or injured your shoulder in some way, lung cancer is unlikely to be the cause of your shoulder pain. There are many reasons for shoulder pain that arent lung cancer.
Lung cancer is more likely to be the cause of your pain if youre a smoker and your pain:
- occurs during rest
- isnt associated with any strenuous activity involving the shoulder
- happens at night
- doesnt resolve itself after a few weeks
Your shoulder pain is also more likely to be a symptom of lung cancer if you have other lung cancer symptoms as well. These might include:
- shortness of breath, often mild and with activity
- a persistent cough
- losing weight without a reason
People who have shoulder pain from lung cancer often describe it as a radiating pain from the shoulder down their arms to their hands. There may also be numbness or tingling. At other times, it can feel like a deep ache.
Lung cancer frequently causes chest pain as well. Sometimes, this chest pain is a result of bouts of coughing.
In other cases, the pain of lung cancer is a result of a large tumor pressing on other structures or growing into the chest wall and ribs.
Tumors in the lungs can also press on blood vessels and lymph nodes. That causes a buildup of fluid in the lining of the lung, and it can cause pain or shortness of breath.
- minor injury
Shoulder Pain As A Symptom
Unfortunately, shoulder pain related to lung cancer or mesothelioma can be very similar or identical to that of conditions such as arthritis. If you have any question at all about shoulder pain, it’s better to be safe and talk to your healthcare provider. Yet, there are a few symptoms that make lung cancer more likely.
Symptoms that may be more concerning for lung cancer include shoulder pain that’s worse at night, pain that occurs at rest, and pain that’s not associated with any loss of motion with activity.
Shoulder pain is also more likely to be something non-skeletal if you do not recall any injury or activities in which you may have overused your shoulder.
Shoulder pain is also more likely to be a symptom of lung cancer if you have other symptoms of lung cancer, such as shortness of breath a persistent cough, wheezing, hoarseness, coughing up blood, fatigue, or if you are losing weight for no reason.
Keep in mind that the symptoms of lung cancer in women and symptoms of lung cancer in non-smokers are often less typical than those in menand sometimes very vague, such as the gradual onset shortness of breath with activity and fatigue.
Many people dismiss the early symptoms of lung cancer as being due to age-related changes in exercise tolerance, weight gain, or being too sedentary.
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Breast Cancer And Shoulder Blade Pain
Some women may feel back pain in the upper back between the shoulder blades before any other sign of breast cancer reveals itself. The discomfort is usually attributed to muscle pain, inflammation of the spine or stretching the tendon and ligaments in the back.
Its important to know that tumors will sometimes develop deep within the breast tissue of the chest and felt in the spine or ribcage. There is also the possibility of metasis, a malignant spreading of the disease to the ribs or spine.
For example, The National Breast Cancer Foundation reports about a patient who was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and suffered from a severe back pain.5
The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association reported that metastatic bone disease secondary to breast cancer is a common cause of low back pain. The report stressed the need for further imaging in patients with a history of breast cancer and whose physical examination and plain film radiographs are inconclusive or suspicious.6
Pancoast Lung Cancer Tumors
Pancoast tumors are a relatively rare form of lung cancer. These tumors develop in a groove called the superior sulcus at the top of the lungs. They often cause intense shoulder pain on the same side of the body as the affected lung, as the superior sulcus is close to the shoulder.
Some people with a Pancoast tumor may experience a group of symptoms called Horner syndrome, which might further contribute to shoulder pain. This syndrome can also cause
changes in the eyes, including droopy eyelids or shrinking in one pupil, and asymmetrical changes in sweating, such as reduced sweating on one side of the face.
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What Are The Possible Complications Of Right Scapula Pain
Just like treatment, complications of right scapula pain depend on the underlying cause. For musculoskeletal reasons, most cases of pain resolve with appropriate treatment. However, potential complications include ongoing pain and limited shoulder function. Complications associated with scapula pain radiating from another site can be serious or even fatal, depending on the cause. It is recommended that you talk to your doctor to understand your risk of complications and how to prevent or treat them.
All About Esophageal Cancer
Learn who is at risk for esophageal cancer and how to recognize the signs of this relatively uncommon cancer.
As you eat, you probably don’t think much about how your food will get from your mouth to your stomach. But all the while, your body is at work in the fairly complex process that is digestion, and it all starts with your esophagus the tube that carries the food into your stomach. And like many other parts of the body, the esophagus is susceptible to cancer.
There are two main types of esophageal cancer, squamous cell esophageal cancer and esophageal adenocarcinoma. Squamous cell esophageal cancer, the most common type, affects the cells that form the interior lining of the esophagus. Esophageal adenocarcinoma develops in the tissues found in the base of the esophagus, nearest the stomach.
Risk Factors for Esophageal Cancer
There are a number of risk factors for esophageal cancer. Because early detection is important for treatment and long-term survival, people who are most likely to get esophageal cancer should be on the lookout for warning signs of the disease. Some factors that increase the risk for developing esophageal cancer include:
For more information on the causes of and risk factors for esophageal cancer, see “Tracking the Underlying Causes of Esophageal Cancer.”
Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer
Many people don’t have any obvious symptoms of esophageal cancer until the cancer has become quite advanced. These warning signs may then show up:
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Could My Back Pain Be Spine Cancer
For people who have severe back pain, it is natural to wonder whether or not the pain might be a sign of spinal cancer. While most back pain is unrelated to cancer or tumors, it is possible and important to check out. This article explains when back pain may be related to a spinal tumor, how to get an accurate diagnosis, and what to consider for treatment options.
Tumors growing within the vertebrae can make the spinal bones weak, causing them to break and collapse. Watch:Metastatic Spinal Cancer Video
Abdominal And Pelvic Causes
You might be surprised to hear that stomach or even pelvic troubles can cause shoulder blade discomfort, yet this is fairly usual. Irritation of nerves that pass along the base of the diaphragm can trigger pain, which seems like it has come from your shoulder or shoulder blade. You may have heard people talk about having shoulder or shoulder blade discomfort after surgery. When gas is injected right into the abdominal cavity during laparoscopic surgery, it usually irritates nerves along the bottom of the diaphragm leading to shoulder discomfort post-operatively.
Some problems which might create shoulder blade discomfort consist of gallstones, peptic ulcer disease, acid reflux, liver disease. With these conditions, the referred pain is frequently to the right shoulder blade. The pancreas becomes part of the gastrointestinal system. However, pancreatitis is more likely to trigger discomfort in the left shoulder blade.
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Coping With Breast Pain
Breast pain can be very distressing, and many women worry that they may have breast cancer. In most cases breast pain will be the result of normal changes in the breasts.
Even though you may feel reassured that your breast pain is normal and you dont have breast cancer, the pain often remains. This can be upsetting, especially if your specialist cant tell you the exact cause of your breast pain.
Women affected by breast pain may feel many different emotions, including fear, frustration or helplessness. Although understanding more about your breast pain wont cure it, it may help you to get back some control over your life.
Having severe, long-lasting breast pain can sometimes affect a womans daily activities which may cause anxiety and, for some, depression. However, this isnt the case for most women and their pain can be helped or managed.
Having breast pain doesnt increase your risk of breast cancer. However, its still important to be breast aware and go back to your GP if the pain increases or changes, or you notice any other changes in your breasts.