Upper Back (Lung?) Pain
November 12, 2005 4:13 PM Subscribe
For the past four and a half years I have had pain in my upper back, between and just below my shoulder blades. It feels to me like its lung pain. It is worse when its cold, and at night (I think because it's cold at night). My doctor doesn't know what it is. Any ideas?
posted by duck to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
You are not a doctor, I know. But my doctor is stumped and if I could take some ideas that might be helpful. So, in greater detail:
I'm a 29yo female. Relatively healthy. However, almost 5 years ago, I had non-hodgkin's lymphoma in my eyes (not in my lymph nodes) treated with radiation. Towards the end of the course of radiation, I got pneumonia, presumably because my system was weakened. I am cancer free and the chances of my cancer coming back are pretty close to 0. Supposedly the kind I had doesn't come back.
This back pain started at the same time as the pneumonia. Since, as I said, it feels like its my lungs, I told my doctor about it, calling it "lung pain" at the time. He said it was normaly for my lungs to hurt after pneumonia and that it could take a long time to pass (this was 3 or 4 months after the pneumonia.
After about three years, I figured, well I know he said it could take a long time to pass, but it's been long enough, and I brought it up again. This time we went into more detail and I showed him where the pain was. He looked a little perplexed and said "That's not where your lungs are." Oops...I never said I was an anatomist. He did a full exam as well as x-rays and can't find anything wrong. He says maybe it's muscular. It doesn't feel muscular to me.
It's in my upper back, between and immediately below (though still sort of centre-ish) my two shoulder blades. So divide your back into 5 horizontal sections...it's in the middle 3.
It feels like it's "inside" not on the surface. It doesn't feel like muscle pain, at least not the sort of muscle pain you get from exertion or fatigue, which is the only kind I know. It feels "hollow". I don't know how else to describe it other than hollow. It is not a sharp pain, it's fairly constant when it's there. It's not *bad* pain, meaning I'm not incapacitated by it by any stretch and only occasionally does it interfere with my sleep.
It is worse when it's cold. Meaning it's worse when my back is cold or not snugly covered (undershirt). If my back itself is kept warm, it doesn't matter if I'm in a cold place (e.g. warm parka keeps the pain at a low-level even if I'm outside and breating freezing air in the dead of winter).
I realize that last point contradicts my lung hypothesis. Yes, I still feel like it's my lungs. The doctor said my lungs would hurt in the front, not the back. That seems strange to me...I'm not that deep, my lungs are presumably pretty close to the surface from either direction. And besides, this doesn't feel like the surface. Further, it just "feels" like it's a lung thing. Lastly, it did start with the pneumonia.
It does not seem to be related to any physical exertion. it gets worse in the winter as you might expect, but AC in the summer when I'm wearing those little spaghetti-strapped tops, also doesn't do me an favours.
As I said, the pain is not terrible. It's not like I need painkillers or like I can't do things. But the long duration and constancy of the pain worries me, and I would like to know what it is so I don't have to worry about it anymore.