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Upper back pain with more pain when swallowing
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Upper back pain with more pain when swallowing

I am a hairstylist, age 41 and female. I have been doing hair 23 years, but recently purchased the salon I have been working at and my workload tripled.

Anyway....my upper back is always in pain from keeping my arms elevated when cutting hair and also using a very heavy blowdryer in my left hand.  
Recently (about a month ago) my neck began to do a weird snap, crackle, pop as I turned my head slowly, kind of like if you were checking traffic before pulling out, or just turning your head to talk to someone etc. It would only do it maybe a couple times a day, or skip a couple days and then happen again.  Shortly after that I began to expericence some neck pain, and upper back pain.

Within a few days of that, I began to feel pain in that region (upper back by shoulder blades) when I swallow food. As the food passes that area where my back hurts it sort of intensifies that pain I already felt. I tried to blow it off thinking it was a pulled muscle, that I had slept wrong, or it was from my new hairdryer that weighs a ton. I kept waiting for it to stop, but it still has not gone away.  I then began to worry and looking up stuff on the internet. All of the people I talk to whether friends, family, or clients have never heard upper back pain and then pain in back when swallowing.
So if any of you have had this or have known someone who had this I would be interested in hearing from you. I went to Urgent Care and they took a Chest X-ray and and EKG and were normal.   So it's not my lungs, chest or heart. I think it has something to do with my neck popping and then the pain I already have in my shoulder area all the time.
Does anyone know if this could be a nerve?

Please send me a private message or comments here. thank you! JB
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45 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_n_tn
I am having the same exact pain. I woke up yesterday and my back was aching and when I swallo it seems that it hurts on the way down in that exact spot. Are you also having spasms? I go through a 15 minute time where I continue to have contant spasms in  my back. I went to urgent care today, but it was not alot of help. The doc just gave me pain med and previcid trying to heal my symptoms. Nothing is working yet this is my second day. I have a. appt on thursday with my physician becuase the UC doc recommended I get a CT scan and Xray, but from your info they may not see anything either. Tell me if you have figured out anything becuase I am getting frustrated with this unknown pain. Maybe we can console each other.

Dee M
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi Dee, I sent you a private message. Yes, I seem to have the spasms too. I tried to explain to the GI doctor that I saw today what they felt like. I kept saying "twinge" of more pain as the food went by that area, but I guess it could be like a spasm. He wanted to say could be gall bladder, but my pain is shoulder blade LEFT side, and gall bladder is on your right. I don't know if there is a correlation or not. Barium swallow x-ray scheduled next week.  Adding you as a friend and we can keep in touch. Glad I found someone who I can talk to, I thought I was going crazy. Not one person has ever heard of this in my family and friends and even customers at work. They all go "Wow, that sounds scary"  thanks everyone...it's not scary really...just frustrating knowing that each time you eat and swallow that you'll get that spasm in your back. Guess it's a good way to lose a couple of pounds. Keep in touch k??
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Avatar_n_tn
Wanted to update this thread...had the barium swallow and I am assuming it showed nothing. That was 10 days ago and no one has called me.  I am thinking I might need an MRI now. The pain is really in my neck and travels into my shoulder blade. Someone mentioned it could be a herniated disc in my neck, which at this point it has to be either something like that or some sort of muscle tear or strain. Nothing helps....frustrated.
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666921_tn?1254994218
Hello,  I have experienced pain when swallowing as you described it.  I also get severe neck/shoulder/middle back pain.  Have had cortisone injections  which helped greatly with the muscle pain but obviously was not a diagnoses or a cure.  Does any of your symptons seem to have any connection to menstruation?  I have been searching for answers for a long while........,...tired, frustrated!
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi:  I don't have pain when I swallow but I have the sensation of an object in my throat.  I also have burning chest and thoracic area muscle pain.  My throat use to be in pain on one side, along the carotid artery.

Anyway, countless Doctors later, I have been dx with a laryngeal neuropathy.  I have taken all kids of meds but the thing that has helped me the most has been Physical Therapy.  My muscles are SO tight, beyond tight!!!  

You have a job with repetative stress and holding your arms up like that for hours will take a toll.  
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Avatar_n_tn
That is my problem too (the tight muscles).  I think there is something wound up so tight in that area, and because I keep going to work day in and day out and aggravating it more, it is not healing. I think Physical Therapy or some sort of gym related exercise would help. So far I am still in pain in that area though.
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Avatar_f_tn
I woke up 7 days ago with a stiff neck and since then the pain has traveled just below my neck and is in my upper back.  I also have intense sharp pain when I swallow food. I went to the er yesterday, the doc was very unhelpful since they did a cat scan and he comes back to tell me well nothings broken and sd they were going to give me naproxen and walked out the room. Could someone please speculate what could be wrong with me?
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Avatar_n_tn
I have the same thing. Back pain ache between my shoulder blades and pain when I swallow food. Larger the mouthful, more painful. I thought it was just a bit of back pain, didnt get off to sleep last night too well, this morning thought I might have a colapsed lung as I couldnt locate any painful back muscles but the pain is there somewhere. I also get the spasms, not too bad but I never had spasms with normal back pain before.
Doctor advised no collapsed lung, just back pain, take ibuprofen which did help. Now, 24h later I am noticing pain swallowing food.
Hopefully it will just go away, will let you know. I'm a 35 year old bloke.
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Avatar_n_tn
Just as an update, Back pain is getting better each day, swallowing/burping pain still excruciating but you can tell its healing. Should be back to normal in a week.
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Avatar_f_tn
I am new to this, and my husband seems to think it is just something that will go away in time, but 2-3 days ago I started experiencing middle back pain also, between shoulder blades on the right side when I swallow only.  The pain isn't anywhere else.  And I have no other symptoms, just when I swallow food or liquids.  I am nervous about it, yet not going to the doctor by my husbands recommendation, maybe over reacting a little because it has only been 2 days, but who can explain why I all of a sudden have a pain in my back when I eat.  I hate it and want it to go away.  Anyone have any suggestions.  I was reading that a doctor recommended possible the gall bladder.  I have an appetite.  I am 33, work a lot and running with the kids, but healthy as far as I know.  Concerned ...
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Avatar_m_tn
Upper middle back pain for me as well.  Definitely feel food and liquids passing through in my back.  It's about a 2 second delay when I swallow anything until I feel it.  It doesn't "hurt", but it's like someone pokes me in the back.  Stiffness in my neck at times as well.

Have yet to see an answer to this, but would like to know what's going on.

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Avatar_n_tn
I recommend going to your local message therapist that is best recommended to you and then go to a chiropractor right after your session it will do wonders. 90% sure it is muscle related pain caused by either bad posture or sitting in a desk all day! good luck
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Avatar_n_tn
I am 38 and have pain in my upper back and it feels worse when I eat.  A bit like a spasm.  Sometimes at night I feel full and uncomfortable and the pain is noticeable in my back.  I've had an upper GI which came back normal, they checked my gall bladder and that was normal.  I'm on acid blockers to see if that helps.  Have you had any relief since last September?
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Avatar_f_tn
I am currently experiencing similar symptoms- pain while swallowing, stiffness/discomfort in the neck/shoulder blade region. I consulted my doctor and he suspects arthritis, specifically the C6 vertebra. In order to alleviate pain, he suggested to avoid positions where I look downward and try to eliminate some trigger foods from my diet. Hope that helps point you in a good direction to figuring out what is causing your pain.
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Avatar_n_tn
I am 40yrs old and this past Friday night is when my upper back pain symptoms started.  I believe it is related to a pulled muscle I got from a sudden jerking motion and now I am suffering for it.  I am no stranger to back pain, as I always have lower back pain.  Upper back pain has occured as well but never with pain as I swallow.  It is a sharp pain in my upper mid back more to the right side for me as the food passes that area.   In Dec 2009 I had such severe lower/mid back pain that I could hardly stand up and the only position that relieved my pain was laying down on my stomach. I went to the doctor who prescribed me meds  (vicadin and muscle spasm relaxer) but I don't like taking meds if don't need to. I also went to the Chiro but at 3x week/ $40 a visit I almost went into the poor house.  It did help some but eventually I stopped and then I got pregnant. Most of my back pain actually went into hybernation during that time. Since my daughters birth I have experienced one really bad back ache that was related to some exercise I did that I don't normally do.  I could hardly lift her up. I self treated with strong Motrin and a muscle stimulating device my husband had used for his own back pain.  This helped my body get better. I am now doing the same for this pain and the Motrin really works well for me to keep the pain in check, but when I sleep at night I am not comfortable and I have the added swallowing pain too.  I might have to go back to the Chiro, at least my copay is only $10 now.  Motrin is very good for muslce pain but you are supposed to take it religiously in order for it to do it's job.  The little stimulator device is also a great tool.  I will let you know the pain gets better and if these things worked
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Avatar_m_tn
I am having the exact same symptoms as everyone else.  Even swallowing oatmeal is agony and water hurts very bad.  I woke up in the middle of the night 3 days ago with a big lump in my throat.  It felt like I had taken a large pill and it didn't go down all the way.  I went back to sleep and now it's been 3 days.  I no longer have the feeling of something being in my throat, but now the pain is on my right upper back, just below my shoulder blade.  I am going to my doctor today and will keep you all updated.  Not to scare anyone, but I did read that it could have something to do with the pancreas being inflammed. Has anyone heard anything like that? Oh and I am burping more than usual too.  Feeling really frustrated.  Christine
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi Dee - Did you ever get diagnosed as to what was happening with your back pain and swallowing? Any information would help me.  I am going through the exact same thing.  
Thanks,
Christine
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Avatar_m_tn
HI - Just wondering if you ever figured out what was going on with your back pain and swallowing.  Mine started three days ago and is driving me crazy.  I can't even drink water without my upper right back hurting as it goes down.  I'm going to both the Chiro and the Med Doc today to find some answers.  Kind of scared of what it might be. Any info you can give me would be helpful.
Thank you so much!
Christien
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi Justine - I'm having the exact same symptoms of food and drinks hurting down my back and then lasting for a few seconds afterward.  It doesn't actually stop though, so it is constant, but more so when I eat or drink.  Did you ever get a diagnosis?
Any information would help please.
Thank you,
Christine
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi everyone, I am also suffering with severe pain when swollowing seems to travel up to base of head (sharp) to mid shoulder blades. I had my gall bladder out last may so I know it's not gall bladder issues for my self, although similiar to everyone else. I have a herniated L4/L5 disk, all lower disks are gone including hips calling it ankylosing spondilitis (as my spine is slowly becoming one straight unit). I have been seeing a pain doctor, had tones of injections over the last 2 years, and just recently had 5 nerves burnt, including the sciatica nerve along the base of my spine. I have had pain in my neck with treatments done to it as well, however it never hurt to swollow. I do however have a bone scan scheduled for tomorrow morning and I am hoping something shows up on it. I most certainly  will keep you all updated if anything happens to show up. (34 yrs old)
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Avatar_f_tn
I have the pain also, but thinking problem is with spine as the esophagus lays against spine!
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Avatar_f_tn
I'm going to get an MRI. done of my spine.I had an accident 17 yrs ago and have had pain in my back right side near spine under shoulder blade. Now hurts when I swallow, especially something cold. Thinking I have a ruptured or herniated disc which has caused a nerve to be tender! And when I swallow it puts pressure on the raw nerve or the cold water irritates like a tooth ache. I'm no doctor but I'm very analytical of this and hoping MRI finds something out. A ruptured or herniated disc will never get better it has to be trimmed to get it off nerve. I have had lower lumbar surgery 2 herniated disc. And which my neural surgeon told me the same thing. I will post to let you know what they find.
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Oops neuro
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Avatar_m_tn
Dear all,

I have the same symptoms for 6 months.. I know it is a very long time but it did not go away unfortunately. Everytime i swallow food or liguid my left shoiulderblade area hurts, like stinging pain . It is only one spot and i am really getting crazy with it. I had my MR for back and neck 5 months ago. I have 2 herniated discs, that is what the doctor said, but she did not exactly confirm that this swallowing problem could be caused because of that but she said it is probable. I am so worried if it could be from my esaphogus. But i can not understand if it was from the esaphogus why it should make the feeling of pain only at one certain spot? I alsi went to the gastrologist but those times i hade additional problmes like food stucking in the throat or pain on the chest . And he said it could be gerd. But theose additional symptoms then went away and my problem is the pain in my back when swallowing . Infact i have pain there constantly for examle when i am writing you thsi message my i have an uncomfortable feeling at my left back from the neck around the shoulder blade. But if i drink or eat sth i feel it at one certain point, justine b symptoms are the same with me but i do not know if he could solve hsi problem . Your comments are very precious. Hope all of us can get better asap. But thsi is so weird and noone can understand me.
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Avatar_m_tn
Did you see the doctor?
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Avatar_m_tn
hi justine ,

your sysmptoms are exactly the same with mine .
I really wonder ıf yours have been solved?
your reply ıs very much ımportant to me .
pls help.
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Avatar_f_tn
I wish someone would post a diagnosis for this.  It just started for me yesterday, aargh.  It hurts sometimes lying down but mostly when I swallow something larger and it hits that area between the shoulder blades.  It scares me.
Shelly
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi shelly,

If you read mine, i had pain at one single spot on my left shoulderblade while swallowing even food or liquid. No diagnosis was foumd. I went to many doctors. The GI said if I want to feel better i can have endoscipy done or barium swallow. I did not do both. It is with me for 8 full months, everyday, in every bite . I can not beleive but is better for 1 week and i can not beleive it. So i dont think it should sth very severe. Wait for one or two days to my opinion. It can be a tight muscle at your back.
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1986014_tn?1326586721
Wow ....I was really scared before I started reading about the pain everyone is going through. Mine is exactly the same; however, mine generated from waking up stress out knowing that I had two deadlines due and even though I knew I had them done, just the fact of thinking about them day and night.  I honestly believe that it is all stress related. I hurt when I swallow as well and I guess that is really what freaked me out.  I am going to try a couple of things and if it helps I will post.  Icy hot seemed to relieve some of the pain but not all the way.  Does anyones pain radiate to their arms?
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi my friend,

I have this constant pain for about a year. I have it also without swallowing and it rises upon swallowing at on specific point on my left shoulder blade area and also raditaing to my left arm .
Have you seen any doctor? And is your similar to what I am describing?
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Avatar_f_tn
I am.wondering the same about menstruation affecting our situations more for the past 3 or 4 months i have gotten.very sick at some point n than i realize its around my pre-mentrual cycle this month my chest and bach hurt so.much and will not go.away i do not want to take pain medicine.because i dont want.to.aggravate my what ever is wrong with me as almost anything i eat does
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Avatar_m_tn
I had the same problem it started out with my neck , when I would try to turn my neck around it would give my back right shoulder a pain , after like a week I was eating and when ever I swallowed a food it would give me a pinching pain in a back I think that is a back muscle problem because my muscle was hurting first ! But if u guys know what is it please write me
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi Healthylife,

It has been long since I did not come to the forum mbecause my problem is still continuing and it will be 2 years soon. Problems still have.
Pain when swallowing even my saliva , everyday . Without swallowing I also have severe pain in my neck and left back . Moreover when I bend my neck forward İT HURTS  soo much. Did your problem go? I have it for 2 years .
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Avatar_m_tn
I used to experience mild pain in my back when swallowing cold fluids. Barium swallow revealed some seepage ( I guess reflux) back into esophagus. Doc said it was esophagitis. Did anti-acids for years. It seemed to subside when I stopped drinking a lot of beverages with meals, also when I stopped overeating. This was about 30 years ago. About a week or so ago I have started experiencing it again. I think it's time for me to cut down on drinks with meals and over eating again. I have experienced some recent regurge and wonder if that's my culprit. Good luck with your problem! ja
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Avatar_m_tn
If I had it to do again,,,,and I might, I would probably get the diagnostics....barium swallow and/or endoscopy, because these tests can be so revealing, and can help a doc diagnose a problem. Good luck.
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5045730_tn?1362790635
Hey I am actually having this problem as well I feel pain on my right shoulder blade when I move and swallow at times a little heartburn on my upper right side of my stomach that shoots to my back  I had my gallbladder removed 3 years ago. Also when laying flat and breathing I feel like a bubble while I breath it is a very weird sensation.
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Avatar_f_tn
I've been having the same pain nearly on my right shoulder whenever I swallow, I'm 19 and work as a cook at a restaurant and am worried it might be problematic to my job or could be something costly that I can't afford please let me know what you found out about it and if I can do something to help rid me of it
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Avatar_f_tn
I know it's been two years since your posts but did you ever find any answers to your back/throat/swallowing pain?  Your symptoms sound exactly like mine.  Thanks!!
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Avatar_m_tn
To everyone who has posted that they experience the sharp pain, in their back, between the shoulder blades, when swallowing.... most likely you have either an esophageal ulcer or esophageal spasms.... this caused referred pain in the upper back area.  The usual cause of this is GERD or stress.  The treatment is most likely to be PPI (Priolosec).  It will take several days to weeks to heal.  You really should have an EGD performed by a gastroenterologist, just to be sure what it is and that it's responding to treatment.  Left untreated, an esophageal ulcer can eventually involve blood vessels and lead to an emergency situation.
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Avatar_m_tn
dear all,

just to have an update.... I want to because, because most people are disappeared when their problems are solved. I want to give feedback to all who have pain under the area of shoulderblade whıle swallowıng.

I am %85 ok after almost 2 years. I am so happy. I dıdı everythıng, Barıum swallow, heart check , endoscopy, neck and throat check , ınner organs ultrasound ... everythıng was normal.
In  the end I went to a therapist and I  got 10 tımes trıgger shot around that area wıth small needles like acapuncture and also got a medıcatıon .
the diagnosis was myofacial pain but not a  typical one
hope anybody who have the same problem wıll get better soon but do not get dısappoınted. I had ıt wıth me sınce 2011 June, almost 2 years.  

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Avatar_m_tn
to  all who have issues with shoulders neck and scapula, yes it can wreck your life. I am finally gaining on my problems after nine years and eight surgeries ,long thoracic nerve damage, torn labrum  bankart tear and   many  others.finding the right doctors is key.mri with dye contrast is important. good luck and don't give up   carl
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Avatar_f_tn
6 hours ago, i discovered i had same problem  when i swallow.   I had a feeling that there is a tumor in the spinal cord or nerve that caused the pain.  
Make hard boil egg.  Roll it in the painful area to melt tumor.  Do it often and longer.  See if it works.  
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Avatar_m_tn
i am 15 and am having the same problem!!!!!!! did you find the answer?
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Avatar_m_tn
This is so annoying, I also experience the problem (obviously why I am here), and at first I thought something got stuck down my througth..then i thought something scractched it and damage my internals (i was getting desperate for a cause), now i am starting to think it is cause I am using a different chair since our company relocated... But how does that cause a pain that causes sleepless nights??? I am starving, but dont want to eat...
Hope we find an anwser soon...

Thank care
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Avatar_f_tn
I have the same thing mine is due a spur growing on c5 and c6 which is growing into my throat I now may need surgery to fis the problem , I also start choking uncontrollably for no reason , I don't know if that also happens to u maybe this will help
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