See a doctor immediately if you are having chest pain and upper back pain, especially if they are accompanied by shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting or sweating, explains MedicineNet. These symptoms are sometimes caused by a heart attack, which, if untreated, can result in cardiac arrest and sudden death.
Another cause of chest and upper-back pain is a bulging thoracic disk. This is usually caused by bending or twisting movements or activities that involve hunching the shoulders, and is often associated with pain in the ribs, shoulder, arm or hand, explains PhysioAdvisor. Doctors usually treat this condition with rest and pain relievers, notes Spine-health. Once the pain begins to lessen, the person is usually able to resume normal activities over a period of about six to 12 weeks.
A sprain of one or more of the costovertebral joints, which are located where the ribs attach to the vertebrae, also sometimes cause upper-back and chest pain, states PhysioAdvisor. Often the result of bending to the side, twisting or arching the back, these sprains typically cause pain on one side of the upper back that radiates to the chest. Like any sprain, the treatment for a costovertebral joint sprain is usually rest, ice and anti-inflammatory pain medication for the first 72 hours, followed by gradually increased activity to mobilize the joint. Physical therapy is often prescribed as well.