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COPD and upper back pain between shoulder blades and shoulders

Baz2002 profile image
12 Replies

I have COPD and have had this condition for over 12 years but over the last3 years I have developed pain between my shoulder and shoulder blades across the upper backend am finding it difficult to understand why. The doctor insists that breathing muscles are causing this but yet I walk my dog twice a day for an hour a time and rarely get out of breath. Is anyone else experiencing this condition from having COPD?

12 Replies
T_Lady profile image

Hello I also had this problem when I attended a six minute walk test to get discharged from pulmonary rehab, I have a long term problem with my lower back, so when I encountered a problem with upper back I thought my pain had spread upwards I asked physio who was in charge of my walk test, he said no wasnt anything to do with my old problem, what a relief, anyway he said when the lungs are short of oxygen they will take it from those upper back muscles, made a lot of sense, sorry my answer is a bit long winded but I felt the need to explain. Joan x

PS: I also have had COPD about 12 years approx.

Ergendl profile image
Ergendl in reply to T_Lady

Thanks for sharing your physio's explanation. Now I understand why the other day, I felt exhausted after doing a lot of physical things, but my back recovered quicker than I expected.

anng18 profile image
anng18 in reply to T_Lady

Thank you T Lady,

I have a lot of problems in the upper back/shoulder region and you have just explained why. Not one medical person I have met has been interested. In fact the lung consultant I saw, some years ago, said it is nothing to do with my lungs, as they do not have not pain receptors.

Needless to say, he wanted to be rid of me. Haven't seen a consultant since.

honeysuckle78 profile image
honeysuckle78 in reply to T_Lady

thank god to read this I keep saying about my pain in upper back . It’s obviously linked to flare ups co insides with my newly diagnosed bronchiectasis .

Just saw specialist who makes me feel totally inadequate..

PaulineHM profile image

Hi, shoulders and upper back muscles are often affected by long term respiratory conditions. In the lower and upper back everything is connected to everything else. I always have to work hard to keep my upper back in good shape and find that the strength and resistance exercises from PR are especially helpful. Lower back exercises are helpful too. The breathing muscles are connected to the lower back. I hope this is helpful? I was diagnosed with COPD 20 years ago.

Be well.

jackdup profile image

I have pain between my shoulder blades as well but don’t know if it is associated with COPD or not but certainly could be. It seems worse the day or days after I have been doing physical things so not sure if it is a result of breathing hard from the physical extortion or the physical exertion itself, but than I have experienced at times when I have no been physical active to any degree,

Gulmarglover profile image
Gulmarglover in reply to jackdup

Thank you for this. It certainly doesn’t help having to carry an oxygen cylinder on your back. Any tips would be welcome!

jackdup profile image
jackdup in reply to Gulmarglover

I’m sure it doesn’t. What does the tank weigh?

Gulmarglover profile image
Gulmarglover in reply to jackdup

I think 2kg plus. Probably more. I find the concentrator good in the house, as long as you don’t trip over the tube or forget you’re connected!

I’ve been diagnosed 4 years and it’s recently got a lot worse. But there are many far worse than I am.

Fribox profile image
Fribox in reply to Gulmarglover

Only just seen this post.Relieved to find that there's a connection with copd..As to the oxygen tank,I would have struggled with it on my back so bought myself a cylinder trolley.Looks like a mini golf trolley!Not cheap but for long term oxygen users is a great investment.Hope this helps. Sue x

Gulmarglover profile image
Gulmarglover in reply to Fribox

That sounds a good idea. Thank you

JulyAugust profile image

Hello Baz, I’ve only just seen this thread so not sure if you still have your upper back/shoulder pain. I think it’s easy to attribute all our ailments as being associated with COPD but it’s not always the case. I developed severe neck pain and pain across the shoulders over a year ago. I had it every day and it was hellish to sit at my desk to work as I could barely think straight from the pain and pain killers did absolutely nothing to alleviate it. I assumed it was associated with my COPD but a respiratory consultant I saw said it wasn’t and (like another responder here said) no doctor seemed to be interested in it. Anyway I was due to have a minor op about three months ago to remove a small lipoma and as part of the pre-op assessment I had a blood test and it turned out I was severely anaemic. The op was cancelled and I was given an iron infusion and put on a high dose of iron tablets and after about a month the chronic neck pain I’d suffered for over a year went away. It is absolute bliss not having that pain plaguing my life every day. I do think COPD can cause some aches and pains but it can also be caused by some other reason as in my case…I found out about something called ‘referred pain’ (Google it) which most doctors know little or nothing about.

Best wishes, Jan

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