Referred Chest Pain

Pain in the chest can sometimes be referred from the back. Pain will be felt in the chest but the cause of the problem may be in the thoracic spine.

Symptoms of referred chest pain

Symptoms include pain in the chest which comes on without a traumatic injury to the chest area. Pain may be made worse by taking deep breaths, coughing, sneezing etc. The upper back area may feel stiff. Upper back muscles may feel tight and tender.

Referred chest pain explained

Pain in the chest or rib area can sometimes be referred from the thoracic spine. This is the area of the spine which runs between your shoulder blades and down the mid-back. This is a common cause of chest pain in young athletes.

Referred pain is when pain is felt in one area but does not originate there. Instead it it caused by a problem elsewhere. Referred pain usually starts at a point higher up than where the pain is felt. In the case of referred chest pain, it can originate from many areas, with the most common being the facet joints or zygapophyseal joints of the thoracic spine. It may also originate from the Costovertebral or costotransverse joints, where the ribs attach to the vertebrae. Muscular tightness and trigger points can also develop, increasing the referred pain.

Treatment of referred pain  

Treatment of referred chest pain will depend on the cause of the pain, but commonly used treatments include deep tissue massage which releases tension in muscles which in turn reduces pressure on any nerves which are referring the chest pain.

Spinal manipulation to restore full range of movement to the joints in the spine. Stretching and strengthening exercises may also be recommended for the upper body, upper back and core to regain full movement and strength.