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Does Heart Problems Cause Back Pain

When To See The Doctor For Chest Pain

What Does Back Pain Have To Do With Heart Disease? | Dr. Michael Greger

When in doubt, call your doctor about any chest pain you have, especially if it comes on suddenly or is not relieved by anti-inflammatory medications or other self-care steps, such as changing your diet.

  • A sudden feeling of pressure, squeezing, tightness, or crushing under your breastbone
  • Chest pain that spreads to your jaw, left arm, or back
  • Sudden, sharp chest pain with shortness of breath, especially after a long period of inactivity
  • Nausea, dizziness, rapid heart rate or rapid breathing, confusion, ashen color, or excessive sweating
  • Very low blood pressure or very low heart rate
  • Fever, chills, or coughing up yellow-green mucus
  • Problems swallowing

What Are We Seeing In This Image How Blood Pressure Can Be Affected By C1

This image displays the close proximity of the vagus nerve, the glossopharyngeal nerve, and the spinal accessory nerve to the C1-C2 vertebrae. This proximity makes compression of these nerves common in cervical spine instability.

  • When a person has cervical instability those nerves can get compressed and they can get stretched. Some of the nerve impulses can be blocked. When this happens you could get tachycardia that comes and goes. If you move your head in a certain direction all of a sudden you could get tachycardia or lightheartedness because your brain isnt getting the right sensory input because there are problems in the nerve conduction of the vagus nerve and the glossopharyngeal nerve.

The vagus nerve and the glossopharyngeal nerve runs in front of the cervical vertabrae C1-C2 and branch out to innervate the receptors in the carotid sinus and the aortic arch that control blood pressure. The aortic arch is the top part of the aorta and carries blood away from the heart.

When atlanto-axial instability is present, blood pressure issues can occur because of impairment in the vagus and glossopharyngeal nerve function.

Heart Rate Variability Monitoring For Chronic Health Conditions And Cervical Instability Cases

Ross Hauser, MD explains how monitoring HRV can be a helpful way to see how a persons vagal tone and overall health are improving or declining. This is an objective test we have some patients monitor at home and we have a more comprehensive version that we can do in-office.

The summary transcript is below video:

Video summary:

Heart rate variability or HRV measures the functioning of the autonomic nervous system. It measures if the balance between the sympathetic nervous system and the Parasympathetic system is good or if this balance is off. When it is good the body is in a good position to heal and regenerate.

We do heart rate variability testing in the office and this testing gives us a sense of how balanced someones autonomic nervous system is. When somebody has a high vagal tone meaning their vagus nerves, which are the nerves in the body that give the body health, when the HRV is high, the person has better athletic ability they also have a greater resistance to stress.

When people have a low vagal tone they cant handle stress, theyre much more prone to getting illnesses, they tend to have depression or they might have other signs like brain fog or melancholy and other psychological conditions. They are easily fatigued.

Diseases associated with low heart rate variability


  • multiple chemical sensitivity
  • Chronic Lyme Disease symptoms

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Heart Attack Warning Signs And Symptoms: Chest Head Jaw And Tooth Pain

Chest discomfort, manifest as pain, fullness, and/or squeezing sensation of the chest

Chest pain is the hallmark symptom of a heart attack, although it can take many different forms. In other cases, chest pain may not occur at all. The characteristic chest pain of a heart attack has been described as a sense of pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain that starts in the center of the chest. The pain or discomfort typically lasts more than a few minutes, or it may go away and then return. It can spread down the arms, to the back, or to the head and neck. Both women and men report chest pain as a primary symptom of heart attack, but women more often than men are likely to have some of the other symptoms, such as nausea, jaw pain, or shortness of breath, that are described below.

Jaw pain, toothache, headache

The pain of a heart attack can spread down both arms, to the jaw or head, or to the back. Some people report tooth pain or headache as a symptom of a heart attack. It is possible to have these types of pain without chest pain during a heart attack.

Shortness of breath

Feeling short of breath or like you are gasping for air is a common symptom of a heart attack. Shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, is medically known as dyspnea. Shortness of breath may occur before or during the chest pain of a heart attack, and in some cases, it may be associated with other heart attack symptoms without any chest pain.

Six Ways Chronic Pain Affects Your Heart

Heart disease is different in women and may be deadlier ...

Like it or not, pain plays an important role in your life. Not in an angsty, life is pain kind of way, but as a signal to your nervous system that your body is not functioning properly.

Pain is your bodys way of letting you know somethings wrong. It often accompanies an injury like a back sprain or broken bone. It can result from an illness or health condition. In most cases, it fades as your body heals.

Chronic pain, on the other hand, is pain that persists for more than 12 weeksoften for months or even years. There is not always a clear cause.

Chronic pain can cause multiple health problems including excessive fatigue, disrupted sleep, and depression. Heres a look at six ways it can affect your heart specifically.

Find a doctor

Dont let pain put a strain on your heart. Find a doctor at that can help you determine the cause of your pain and offer solutions that bring relief.

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Related Resources

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.

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Imagine If Somebody Has Cervical Instability And Its Interrupting All These Functions You Do Not Have Blood Pressure Or Heart Rate Monitoring Your Body Does Not Receive And React To Proper Messages Coming To And From The Brain

The vagus nerve also serves to innervates the sinoatrial node and the atrioventricular node of the heart. Simply these two nodes serve as the pacemakers of the heart. They get their messages from the vagus nerve is to slow the heart rate down and slow or lower the blood pressure.

For a more detailed explanation lets turn to the online publication Pacemaker Malfunction in the US National Library of Medicines STATPEARLS Updated May 2021.

The sinoatrial node acts as the natural pacemaker of the heart. The cells present in the sinus node have innate automaticity , which starts the electrical activity in the heart. This innate electrical potential moves from the sinoatrial node to the atrioventricular node and finally into the His-Purkinje system ). It relays electrical impulses or messages from the atrioventricular node to the heart muscle cells that coordinate the contraction of ventricles.

Different arrhythmic problems

Now the next line: This movement of electric potential in an orderly manner controls the rhythmic contraction of the chambers of the heart. The failure of this intrinsic electrical conduction in the heart can result in different arrhythmic problems.

So imagine if somebody has cervical instability and its interrupting all these functions. You do not have blood pressure or heart rate monitoring, your body does not receive and react to proper messages coming to and from the brain.

Assessment Of Exposure: Lbp

The main exposure investigated in this study was participants reports of chronic LBP. Participants who answered yes to the following question: have you ever suffered from chronic LBP were considered cases. This question originated from the Spanish National Health Survey , with chronic LBP defined and explained to participants as the presence of pain in the lower back area that lasted at least six months or longer .

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Other Heart Attack Early Warning Signs And Symptoms: Arm And Back Pain

Arm pain

The chest pain of a heart attack can spread, or radiate, down one or both arms and to the shoulders. This often happens, and the pain may even extend to the wrist and fingers. This is most common on the left side of the body but it can also occur on the right side.

Upper back pain

The upper back is another common location for the spread of the pain from a heart attack. Most commonly, back pain that stems from a heart attack is described as occurring between the shoulder blades.

General malaise

A feeling of being generally unwell or like you are coming down with an illness can accompany a heart attack. This can be described as fatigue or even lightheadedness, with or without fainting. Some people will experience severe anxiety or panic during a heart attack. This has been described as feeling a sense of doom, as one experiences a panic attack.


Sweating, or perspiration, can accompany a heart attack. Some people have described feeling like they are breaking out in a cold sweat.

When Should I Call My Doctor

Heart Disease: Why Does Pain Vary for Patients?

See your doctor if the angina becomes worse or occurs more often. Sometimes its hard to tell a severe attack of angina from a true heart attack. Call your doctor or 911 or go to a hospital emergency room right away if:

  • You have chest discomfort with light-headedness
  • You are sweating a lot during an attack of angina
  • You have chest discomfort that lasts more than 10 minutes or goes away and comes back.

You still have pain 15 minutes after taking one nitroglycerine tablet every five minutes.

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All Of A Sudden I Had Chest Pain Chest Heaviness Shortness Of Breath And My Heart Was Pounding

Someone will be in our office. They will tell us a story about a sudden, without cause, onset of a panic attack and heart attack-like symptoms. Such as this one:

I had an uncontrolled panic attack while driving to work. There was no new stress in my life, I was not even thinking bad thoughts, in fact I was not particularly thinking about anything. All of a sudden I had chest pain, chest heaviness, shortness of breath and my heart was pounding, I thought I was going to pass out. After I calmed down enough to drive again, I went home, laid down, and waited for this to subside.

When searching for a possible cause of this event, this person revealed to us that she worked for a chiropractor and had a lot of cervical manipulation recently. Upon examination in our office with a digital motion x-ray it showed an incredible amount of upper cervical instability. This, we suggested, may be the cause of these and other symptoms she was suffering from including head pressure, history of migraines, sensitivity to sound, intermittent blurry vision, off-balance, as well as brain fog.

Symptoms Can Be Different For Men And Women

Men and women experience heart attack symptoms in slightly different ways. The main difference is how pain radiates.

  • For men: Pain will spread to the left shoulder, down the left arm or up to the chin.
  • For women: Pain can be much more subtle. It may travel to the left or right arm, up to the chin, shoulder blades and upper back or to abdomen . Women are also more likely to experience these accompanying symptoms: shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and back or jaw pain. Read an in-depth overview of heart attack symptoms for women here.

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly with mild pain and discomfort. Surviving a heart attack depends upon how well you recognize and react to these symptoms. Remember that “time is muscle.” The sooner you receive medical care, the sooner heart muscle can be saved.

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I Thought I Had The Flu

Even though heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, women often chalk up the symptoms to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, the flu or normal aging.

They do this because they are scared and because they put their families first, Goldberg said. There are still many women who are shocked that they could be having a heart attack.

A heart attack strikes someone about every 43 seconds. It occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This happens because the arteries that supply the heart with blood can slowly narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances .

Watch an animation of a heart attack.

Many women think the signs of a heart attack are unmistakable the image of the elephant comes to mind but in fact they can be subtler and sometimes confusing.

You could feel so short of breath, as though you ran a marathon, but you haven’t made a move, Goldberg said.

Some women experiencing a heart attack describe upper back pressure that feels like squeezing or a rope being tied around them, Goldberg said. Dizziness, lightheadedness or actually fainting are other symptoms to look for.

Many women I see take an aspirin if they think they are having a heart attack and never call 911, Goldberg said. But if they think about taking an aspirin for their heart attack, they should also call 911.

The Carotid Sinus Baroreceptor Has A Crucial Role In The Control Of Blood Pressure And Heart Rate

Heart Health for The Heartland

The glossopharyngeal nerve / Carotid baroreceptors connection:

  • In the medical publication STAT PEARLS housed at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine an explanation of function for the glossopharyngeal nerve / Carotid baroreceptors connection is given.
  • Carotid sinus baroreceptor has a crucial role in the control of blood pressure and heart rate. Afferent signals travel from carotid baroreceptors to the cardiovascular control center in the midbrain via the glossopharyngeal nerve. The efferent signals transmit via parasympathetic and sympathetic nerves to the heart and blood vessels. This response brings appropriate changes to maintain heart rate and blood pressure in normal physiological limits, which is known as carotid sinus baroreflex

The Vagus Nerve / Aortic Baroreceptors

  • Returning to the medical publication STAT PEARLS lets get an explanation of the function of the Vagus Nerve / Aortic Baroreceptors connection. Lets focus on some of the key points:
  • Misinterpretation of the existence of hypertension
  • Increased pressure on the carotid artery
  • Fainting or syncope
  • The carotid sinus detects this increased firing of afferent signals via the glossopharyngeal nerve, leading to a misinterpretation of the existence of hypertension.
  • To briefly review:

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    Top Warning Signs That You May Have Heart Problems

    Does heart disease run in your family? Do you have a history of eating unhealthy foods and exercising only intermittently? Are you worried that you might be at risk for experiencing heart problems? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then continue reading to discover the warning signs of heart problems so that you can stop problems where they start or even before they begin. If you are ready to change some unhealthy habits now in the service of helping your heart be the healthiest it can be, then let’s get started with learning about these major warning signs.

    It Is Not My Neck My Doctor Says There Is No Connection Between My Neck Problems And My Cardiovascular Problems

    Above we discussed that when we see new patients they come to us with not one or two or a few symptoms, they can come to us with many symptoms. They also see specialist for every individualized symptom and each specialist treats their specialty symptom. If the cardiologist cannot control rapid heart beat with heart medicines, the person may be sent to a mental health specialist for specialized psychiatrics medications. If the person with cardiovascular-type symptoms is having hearing problems, they see an ear specialist, digestive problems, a GI specialist, etc. For some people this separation of specialties may help them considerably. For others they enter the rabbit-hole of years and years of testing, hit and miss medication prescriptions, and typical sense of nothing helping.

    At our center we try to focus on people who have all these symptoms as a person who may have a general underlying cause to their problems. That is a problem of cervical spine instability as discussed throughout this article.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of A Heart Attack

    When people think about heart attack symptoms, they tend to picture someone clutching their chest in pain and keeling over. While chest pain often described as a squeezing sensation or a crushing pressure is the most common symptom of a heart attack, its by no means the only one. And whats really interesting is that the symptoms are not always the same for women as for men.

    Typical heart attack symptoms include:

    • Chest discomfort
    • Discomfort in other upper body areas
    • Shortness of breath
    • Breaking out in a cold sweat
    • Lightheadedness

    According to the Cleveland Clinic, womens symptoms tend to appear more benign on the surface and so may go unreported until its too late. These include:

    When To See A Doctor

    Heart Disease: Why Does Pain Sensation Differ?

    You should always take chest pain seriously, as sometimes it may be an indicator of a serious health condition, like a heart attack.

    Always seek emergency medical attention if you have unexplained or sudden chest pain, especially if you have difficulty breathing or the pain has spread to other areas like the arm or jaw.

    You should also make a doctors appointment for any condition that isnt relieved using OTC medications or has symptoms that recur, are persistent, or begin to worsen.

    You can connect to a physician in your area using the Healthline FindCare tool.

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