Pain in the upper back along with more common acid reflux symptoms might actually be a sign of heart trouble.

The upper back pain may be a coincidence and totally unrelated to the acid reflux or heartburn.

“Most patients with acid reflux do not experience back pain,” says Lauren Gerson, MD, board certified gastroenterologist formerly with California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.

She is a nationally recognized researcher of general gastroenterology including management and treatment of GERD.

The key word here is “most.”

Dr. Gerson continues, “In some patients, there may be radiation from the upper esophagus to the upper back.

“If this radiation persists and chest pain is present, I would recommend a cardiology evaluation and perhaps a back evaluation with an X-ray.”

The chest pain of acid reflux or GERD can mimic the chest pain of a heart attack. However, back pain from a heart attack is not uncommon.

In fact, back pain caused by a heart attack can be the only “pain” symptom with this condition.

A person with acid reflux or GERD can just as easily have a heart attack as a person who does not suffer from any digestive disorders.

The bottom line is that back pain from acid reflux is very uncommon, though not impossible.

If the back pain that you think is from your acid reflux or GERD is also accompanied by feeling short of breath, and/or nausea, dizziness/faintness, sweating, jaw or left arm pain, you should be seen in the ER.

For more information on long-term treatment options for GERD, visit

Dr. Gersondr. gerson passed away in July 2017 after a valiant battle against metastatic melanoma. Dr. Gerson devoted herself to solving her patients’ most difficult and longstanding health challenges.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  



Top image: Shutterstock/staras