Upper abdominal discomfort under sternum and radiating to back between scapula.

by Lawrence Boroviak
(Mount Juliet, TN)

I am 78 year old adult male in excellent health.


Medical conditions include hypercholesterolaemia and diverticulitis with both under control.

Existing condition originated about six months ago with severe lower abdominal cramping moving to upper abdomen location. This situation has repeated itself three times during the past six months.

During the past month I've been taking OTC antacid and most recently modified diet to exclude gluten and dairy free foods. Have no history of allergies.

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Dear Lawrence Boroviak (Esq.),


Greets from us all here at abdopain.com, and thank you for stopping by.

The common causes of a upper abdominal discomfort under sternum that radiates to the back between the scapula include:
  • Heartburn (GERD)
  • Gastritis
  • Peptic ulcer - stomach or duodenal ulcer
  • Pancreatitis
  • Non ulcer dyspepsia
  • Hiatus hernia
  • Gallstone pain - though that pain tends to be more on the right upper abdomen and spreads through the ride side to under the right scapula bone.
  • Stomach cancer


The pain you have described does indeed sounds like that caused by either heartburn (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease - GERD) or peptic ulcer disease. It would be important to find out which of these is the case. Both of these conditions can be treated successfully.

Just to confirm, did you say that your upper abdominal discomfort (burning) under your sternum and radiating to your back between your scapula started only recently - in the last 6 months?

There seems to be two different pains you have described here - one that starts from your lower abdomen and moves its way up and the other is a upper abdominal discomfort of a burning character you experience under your sternum and that radiates to your back between your scapula bones.

The first pain I understand, has come on only three times in the last 6 months, while you are taking antacid for the second pain and modifying your diet as well?

I am trying to tease out these to be sure. If you have developed a upper central abdominal pain or discomfort of new onset in the last 6 months, it is important that you get to see your doctor for a physical examination and testing.

Developing a new onset indigestion pain at 55 years or older, being male, and Caucasian, all adds up to significantly increase the risk for developing Barret's esophagus. It is important to get checked.

I am not in any way suggesting that you do have Barret's esophagus.

If after examination and testing, your may benefit from the use of medications like Omeprazole or Pantoprazole.

I hope I have not raised more questions than answers. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any further questions.

Looking forward to hearing from you with an update.

Dr Omatseye Edema MD MRCGP CCFP MSc DRCOG
Family Physician, Emergency Medicine Practitioner and WebMD
Abdopain.com.

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