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Avatar universal

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
62 Responses
Avatar universal
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
Avatar universal
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??
Hi, gosh this was a long time ago! I have this now though, any answers?
Avatar universal
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.
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!
Avatar universal
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.  
Avatar universal
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.
Hi Justine, Did your pain ever go away?
Hi Justine, Did your pain ever go away?
Avatar universal
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?
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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 ...
Avatar universal
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.

Avatar universal
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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