Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

A burning pain in the chest and back may be the beginning of the onset of a potentially serious medical illness and any such symptom needs to be urgently evaluated by a physician. The chest cavity has many vital tissues and organs in it to include the lungs, the heart, and the esophagus and thus a burning pain in the chest and back may be caused due to dysfunction in any of the organs.

What Causes Burning Pain In The Chest & Back?

What Causes Burning Pain In The Chest & Back?

Burning chest and back pain may also be caused due to a nerve problem or even benign musculoskeletal conditions. Some of the causes of burning pain in the chest & back include:

Cardiovascular Causes of Burning Pain in Chest and Back:

Myocardial Infarction: A burning chest and back pain which does not resolve within a few minutes is a sign of an impending myocardial infarction. This pain is caused when the heart does not get the required amount of blood due to some blockage of the arteries.

CAD: Coronary artery disease is the most common cause for a cardiovascular condition causing burning pain in the chest and back. The pain may radiate to the left arm to the neck and jaw. The individual may also have nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and palpitations. Such types of pains are a medical emergency and the individual needs to be taken to the nearest emergency room for treatment as any delay in treatment may prove costly.

Pericarditis: Pericarditis, which is inflammation of the pericardium and myocarditis which is inflammation of the myocardium can also cause burning pain in chest and back.

Aortic Dissection: This is yet another cardiovascular cause of burning chest and back pain. The aorta carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body and runs from the heart down to the abdomen. A rupture of the aorta within the chest cavity can also cause burning chest and back pain. A rupture of the aorta is mostly caused due to a penetrating injury to the chest from a stab or a gunshot wound. A motor vehicle accident in which the steering wheel hits the chest directly may also lead to an aortic rupture causing burning chest and back pain.

Lung Conditions that Can Cause Burning Chest and Back:

Pneumonia: The most common condition of the lung which can cause burning chest pain and pressure is pneumonia. Pneumonia occurs when the airways get inflamed and swell causing constriction.

This leads to reduced supply of air to the lungs causing difficulty breathing along with burning chest and back pain. Pneumonia is normally a viral infection, although certain forms of bacteria can also cause pneumonia.

Pleuritis: This is a lung condition in which there is inflammation of the sac which encompasses each lung. This condition can also cause burning pain in the chest and back. This pain tends to get worse with coughing or sneezing.

Pulmonary Embolism: This is yet another lung disorder which causes burning chest and back pain. Additionally, the individual may experience difficulty breathing and persistent cough. Pulmonary embolism is potentially a serious condition and requires emergent medical treatment. A blood clot in the legs called deep vein thrombosis which breaks free and gets lodged in the lungs is the primary cause of a Pulmonary Embolism.

Esophageal Conditions Causing Burning Chest and Back Pain:

GERD: There are also certain esophageal conditions which may cause burning chest and back pain. GERD is the primary disorder of the esophagus which causes burning chest and back pain. GERD is caused when the acid produced in the stomach reflux back into the esophagus causing inflammation of the lining of the esophagus.
Esophageal spasm is yet another condition which causes burning pain in the chest and back.

Musculoskeletal and Nerve Dysfunction

There are also certain benign medical conditions like musculoskeletal and nerve disorders which may cause burning pain in the chest and back. These disorders affect the nerves, cartilage, and muscles within the chest cavity causing the pain.

Costochondritis is one such condition which causes burning chest and back pain. This condition is caused by inflammation of the rib cartilage. When the nerves around the chest and back area get affected or inflamed then that may also cause burning chest and back pain.

Some of the common conditions that may affect the nerves of the chest and back are shingles or herpes zoster resulting in burning pain in the chest and back.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: May 23, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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