Upper back and chest pain

Has anyone ever experience a sharp pain in they’re upper back, chest, and side under the arm? It almost feels like a pulled muscle but I haven’t done anything for it to be hurting. This pain is kind of intense and I don’t know what causes it. Some times muscle spasm in my arms accompany this.

1 Like

Hi Norma,
it sounds like you have this regularly and you’re certain it’s nothing dangerous which needs to get checked, like a heart attack? - then:
have you considered costochondritis for this, inflammation of the rib muscles? Those rib muscles can spasm themselves (once as a kid made me stop breathing, thought I was gonna die). I’d think the arm spasms are connected, rather than independent.

Simplified: Any sharp local pains would usually inflammation either like here of the muscles themselves, or if around joints then their tendon insertion points.
Pains in the same area and seemingly moving ones in my experience are usually connected via bad or relief posture, or spreading, but may be independent, so are good to tackle individually.

Both muscle and tendon are “easy” to work on using youtube physios. For any pain or other symptom type, put in how you’d roughly call it, and listen to what various people say about it, learn the lingo, often they’ll show movements how to decide what it is, and then treatments, if not, then a variety of appropriate words plus “treatment”, or if you know a specific kind of treatment works, that one, like for me usually stretches and acupressure.

In your case I may start with the apparent origin area - you named upper back first, and in my case the costochondritis was/is from my hunchback and seemingly torso muscles. This means I have to do 8 mins of back exercises for my kyphosis every day without fail, life long.
This would be like in your case: ‘you haven’t done anything for it to be hurting’ - in my case, just sitting with too little support is what triggers it. To prevent it I usually sit twist-stretched on the floor leaning against my sofa or if I need to sit on a chair a swiveable, adjustable bar chair which is actually more for my lower back and tailbone, which gets stiff, but twisting to and fro also helps stretch the upper back for a certain time, whilst the lack of a lean isn’t good, but I spose difficult whilst eating or encapsulating my supps… (making me think tho… :thinking: :face_with_monocle:)

How to do such exercises would be - as now inflamed - starting very low - short careful stints, with lots of breaks, until you’re certain you’re not making it worse. Heat (or cold) and a topical cream (something with arnica works best for me) may help or make it worse, so also try that carefully.

If you like, keep us posted how this works out, so we can support / adjust further.

1 Like

Yes. I get this on occasion. I think it is a rib that goes out of alignment. It is always on the left or less dominant side. Heat, ibuprofen or tumeric. Stretch. Relax shoulders. I’m a RN. Try not to worry. It sounds musculoskeletal.

1 Like

Ah, hadn’t heard of that one…

Here’s a video about that to demonstrate what I meant by physios helping you find out if it is a certain issue.

@Norma, I’d be interested if that works out better for you than costochondritis? It sounds more likely.
I’d say one rib would be very localized, whilst costochondritis would be a broader area, altho it can also be sharp and of course hurts when you breathe in.

To distinguish from heart attack you can press the areas, and if that hurts on the surface, then it should normally be musculoskeletal, like you say @equustndr.

Thank you I will look into it

Thank you I will look into some stretches that would help.

I get this on occasion. Sudden very sharp pain in my left ribs, like an icepick stab, enough to make me jump and cry out. It happens when I’m sitting, standing, walking, so posture isn’t a factor. Usually only lasts a few seconds so I don’t think it’s muscular. I’ve been diagnosed with Nutcracker Syndrome, which is when the renal vein is pinched between two other structures (usually the aorta and the superior mesenteric artery.) This causes the blood in the renal vein to back up which most commonly causes pain in the lower abdomen around my left ovary but I think it may also be causing the pain higher up under my left ribs. Nutcracker is often related to connective tissue disorders like Ehlers-Danlos, which in turn is often related to fibromyalgia.

1 Like


Yes, I have the same pain that you’ve just described but I think the pain on the side is the worst of all the pains that I go through on a daily basis there are days where I don’t even want clothes on because it hurts so much and it’s a shame that there is no cure for this and we have to suffer on a daily basis with this I’ve had it for the past three years and it’s just getting to be too much for me