Poor posture is often the cause when upper back and chest pain occur together. Standing incorrectly or sitting incorrectly can focus strain on the upper back and chest instead of spreading it around the muscles of the torso. Sometimes these pains are confused with a heart attack. But one must avoid confusing a heart attack with some sort of strain by seeing a doctor immediately if upper back and chest pain occur together.
Your doctor may do a quick preliminary test of your upper back and chest pain to try to rule out heart attack. For example, you may be asked to take a quick, deep breath. If this worsens the pain significantly it is more likely that your upper back and chest pain is symptomatic of a strain, though this is not conclusive as it merely indicates you likely have a strain. It does not indicate you have no heart attack either. It will just help the doctor determine which tests to do next to focus the diagnosis of your upper back and chest pain.
When you go to your doctor’s office or an emergency room complaining of upper back and chest pain, your doctor will also ask about your daily living habits while observing your posture. If you use a computer or sit at a desk a lot or do a lot of driving, this will further indicate to the doctor that you are putting too much strain on your shoulder, neck, upper back, and/or chest. This is particularly likely if your pain seems to travel down your back.
There are many ways of treating and helping prevent recurrences of upper back and chest pain. Many find massage to be a helpful relief. Others find that routinely doing an exercise called a shoulder raise gradually reduces their upper back and chest pain. This exercise is done twice a day for about 10 repetitions each by standing upright with arms hanging and then moving the shoulders in controlled, wide circles up and down.
Getting into a routine that builds the larger upper torso muscles without straining them can be very beneficial. These new muscles will help take some of the strain off the spine, bones, and smaller muscles. Swimming is often good in this regard as it involves smooth, fluid movements.
Of course, if poor posture got you into this mess, getting out of the poor posture habit will be the best way out of it. Find ways or people to remind you to sit up properly and to practice proper lifting habits. If you have further questions, consult medical books, a physical therapist, or your doctor about how to sit and stand to prevent upper back and chest pain.