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Dr. Bob
Dr. Bob, Medical Doctor
Category: OB GYN
Satisfied Customers: 5071
Experience:  20 Years in Internal Medicine, Neurology and Sports Medicine
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I am a 53 year old woman and I have severe back pain that

Customer Question

Hello, I am a 53 year old woman and I have severe back pain that began yesterday. The pain began yesterday in my upper back. When I lie down the pain goes away. This morning, upon waking, the pain began stronger than before, and I felt it lower in back than before as well. I lied down and it got better. After a few hours of feeling ok and doing some errands around town, I got home and my back began to hurt more than before, and also my diaphram began to hurt as well, but not as bad as my back. I would describe the pain in my back as deep throbbing, and constant until I lie down flat on my back. The pain in my diaphragm I would describe as mild/dull.
I do not recall having any physical occurrences that could have caused any muscle injury, however I have been extremely emotionally stressed lately, and also spend many hours sitting in-front of the computer on an uncomfortable chair. So, is this something you think I should visit the emergency room for? I suspect this is stress related, and I am not on any medication and am healthy as far as I know.
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: OB GYN
Expert:  Dr. Bob replied 3 months ago.

Hi Ana. Statistically speaking, this is most likely musculoskeletal in origin and may involve actual spasms in the muscles of the back and diaphragm region. Your extended computer work in an uncomfortable chair would be the most likely culprit if you have been well otherwise. That said, there are certain conditions of the chest that can cause mid to upper back pain that is quite severe. Some of these are serious conditions such as an aneurysm in the large artery of the chest, the aorta. For this reason, I would suggest that if you are currently in pain that you go into a local urgent care clinic and request at least a CXR if not a chest CT to rule this type of condition out. Either way, they can also get you on an appropriate analgesic to control your discomfort.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Hello, thank you for you prompt response. Not today but for couple of days the muscles at the back of my head feel very tense and painful. Can this also be causing my back pain? I feel fine other wise
Expert:  Dr. Bob replied 3 months ago.

Yes, that would suggest involvement of the upper trapezius muscles that extend from the middle of the back up to the back of the head and over to the top of the shoulders. These muscles are frequently strained from poor posture and prolonged positioning with the head flexed forward (e.g. computer work). Treatment is conservative and includes rest, heat, motrin, muscle relaxers if needed and careful attention to posture and ergonomic forces (i.e. those involved in your workstation such as the height of the computer, the comfort and height of the chair, the keyboard, etc.). If you can, get a referral to a physical therapist. They can develop a home program for you of stretching and strengthening to treat your current pain and prevent future recurrences. They can also come out to your home and evaluate your workstation and make suggestions about making it more user-friendly. :-)

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