Cervical pain and respiratory discomfort: What link?

back pain while breathing

The neck pain are a common problem that can affect people of all ages. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including injury, poor posture, and stress.

In addition to neck pain, some people may also experience difficulty breathing. In particular, this may be due to inflammation or irritation of the nerves in the neck.

In this article, we will look at the link between neck pain and difficulty breathing. We will also explore some treatment options for these two conditions.

Definition and anatomy: cervical spine

La cervical spine is composed of seven vertebrae, which are the bones that make up the spine. The first two vertebrae, the atlas and the axis, are unique because they allow the head to move.

The atlas is the bone at the top of the spine that supports the head, while the axis is the bone below the atlas that allows the head to rotate.

The other five vertebrae in the cervical spine are called cervical vertebrae. They are numbered from C3 to C7, C3 being there vertebrate closest to the head. The cervical vertebrae are smaller than those of the thoracic and lumbar spine, and they have a distinct shape that allows them to support the weight of the head.

La cervical spine is also responsible for protecting the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs from the brain down the spinal canal.

The spinal cord begins at the base of the brain and ends at about waist level. It is protected by a layer of tissue called the dura, which surrounds it like a sleeve.

The dura mater is surrounded by another layer of tissue called the meninges, which helps protect the spinal cord from injury.

Respiratory System Anatomy

The respiratory system is a network of organs and tissues that work together to move air in and out of the body. The main function of the respiratory system is to supply the body with oxygen, which is essential for cell function. The respiratory system includes

  • The nose,
  • The mouth,
  • The throat,
  • The lungs and the respiratory tract.

The nose and mouth are responsible for the inspiration of the air, while the lungs and airways are responsible for exhaling air. The throat serves as the air passage between the nose and the mouth and the lungs.

The lungs are made up of tiny sacs called alveoli, which are responsible for exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide between blood and air. The respiratory system is constantly working to ensure that the body has enough oxygen to function properly.

Causes and Symptoms of Neck Pain

Neck pain is common and can be caused by a number of different factors.

  • Poor posture (unsuitable posture)
  • Bad sleeping habits
  • And repetitive movements

These last mentioned are the most common causes of neck pain. In some cases, neck pain can also be caused by a herniated disc (cervical hernia) or another underlying medical condition.

The neck pain symptoms include stiffness, pain and reduced range of motion. In severe cases, the pain may radiate to the arms, middle back ou between the shoulder blades. It can even cause headaches.

If you suffer from neck pain, it is important to see a doctor to rule out any underlying medical issues.

What is the link between neck pain and difficulty breathing?

when neck pain and/or stiffness occurs, it is often accompanied by difficulty breathing.

The link between the two could be the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. These systems work in tandem to help maintain homeostasis in the body.

The primary function of the sympathetic nervous system is to prepare the body for fight or flight » This system is activated when the body perceives a threat. It triggers the release of hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which increase heart rate and blood pressure.

En outre, le blood flow is redirected from (relatively) nonessential organs, such as the digestive system, to the muscles. The main function of the parasympathetic system is to promote “rest and digestion”. This system is activated when the body perceives that a threat has passed.

It helps to lower the heartbeat and blood pressure. Also, it increases blood flow to the digestive system. When neck pain and/or stiffness occurs, it can interfere with the communication between these two systems.

This can lead to difficulty breathing as well as other symptoms, such as fatigue and headaches.

Breathing difficulty related to stress

When people are stressed, they may unknowingly tense their abdominal muscles and diaphragm, which can lead to rapid, shallow, jerky breathing.

Other links

There are other possible links between neck pain and difficulty breathing. One possibility is that the pain is associated with apnea, or pauses in breathing. Another possibility is that the pain is due to muscle spasms in the muscles used for breathing at the cervical level.

These muscles include the scalenes and the sternocleidomastoid muscle. Finally, cervical stenosis, or narrow cervical canal, can also cause neck pain and difficulty breathing.

When to worry

When you feel a neck pain and difficulty breathing, it is important to pay attention to other potential symptoms that could accompany these problems. If you also notice:

  • Facial or generalized numbness
  • visual disturbances,
  • speech changes,
  • Loss of balance or loss of consciousness.

These may be signs of a serious condition that requires medical attention.

Also, if you feel a neck pain and difficulty breathing accompanied by sudden memory loss, it is essential to seek emergency medical attention as this could be a sign of a stroke.

The neck pain and difficulty breathing may also be signs of respiratory dysfunction that require urgent medical intervention. These dysfunctions can be caused by cancer, heart attack, or other serious health problems.


La respiratory distress and neck pain can be extremely uncomfortable, even frightening. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, there are some things you can do to ease your discomfort.

If you have trouble breathing, sit up straight and try to take slow, deep breaths.

This will help you clear your respiratory tracts and breathe more easily. If you have neck pain, apply ice or heat to the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. You can also take over-the-counter pain relievers if needed.

Encourage breathing exercises

In order to relieve neck pain and difficulty breathing, it is important to focus on diaphragmatic breathing. This type of breathing encourages the use of the diaphragm muscle to expand the lungs and take in more air.

The breathing exercises such as meditation and sophrology can help improve the functioning of the respiratory system and reduce the feeling of chest tightness.

Don't wait to see if the symptoms go away on their own; instead, seek medical help quickly to ensure you receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.


Back to top