Upper Back Pain – Symptoms Causes Treatments
6 December 2022

Upper Back Pain – Symptoms Causes Treatments

It’s right there between your shoulders. The pain in your upper back isn’t getting better. You wonder how this happened. Muscle strain can often cause pain in your shoulders. However, it could also be caused by a more serious condition. To get the right treatment, it’s important that you recognize when you should see a professional. This article will explain the causes and the ways to get relief.

What causes upper back pain?

Upper back pain (or middle back pain), can occur anywhere between the base of the neck and the bottom of the rib cage. The thoracic spine is the upper and middle back. The thoracic spine contains 12 small bones called vertebrae. Your vertebrae form your backbone.

Each vertebra of your thoracic spine is connected to a pair of ribs. Your ribs wrap around you and lead to the sternum, a long flat bone that runs down the middle of your chest. This is your rib cage.

The disks on your upper back separate the vertebrae. These disks absorb shock from your movements. Your spine is also held together by many ligaments and muscles in your upper back. Your upper back pain could be due to various medical conditions or injuries to your bones, disks, and muscles.

Upper back pain is less common than neck and lower back pain. Because the bones in the upper part of your back aren’t as flexible or mobile as those in your neck and lower back, this is why it’s not as common. Your upper back bones work together with your ribs to stabilize the back. They all work together to protect vital organs, including your heart and lungs.

Possible Causes

What can cause upper back pain?


Muscle strain is the main cause of upper back pain. Your spine can be stabilized by your muscles, whether you are lifting heavy objects, bending your neck, or using poor posture. Mild cases can be treated at home with stretching, exercise, and hot or cold therapy. However, severe cases require a chiropractor.


Did you know that a shoulder injury can cause problems in the upper back? Patients who sustain a rotator-cuff tear can feel severe pain in their shoulders. To regain mobility and function in your shoulder, you should see a doctor.


A bulging disc or herniated disk can cause upper back pain. This refers to the cushion that lies between the vertebrae moving out of its normal position and placing pressure on a nerve. This usually occurs in the lower back but it can also happen higher up. Another sign is tingling or numbness in the neck.


Upper back pain can be a sign that something is more serious. Although it can be hard to see at first, upper back pain is often accompanied by other symptoms. These symptoms can help you decide if your condition requires immediate medical attention.

Heart Attack

Heart attacks usually start slowly and sometimes cause pain in the upper back. Other symptoms include chest pain, shortness or nausea, lightheadedness, and even lightheadedness.

Pneumonia and Chest Infection

Patients with pneumonia or a chest condition can experience pain in the upper back or throughout their torso when they breathe. These conditions are often accompanied by fever and the production of yellow or green mucus.

Lung Cancer

Upper back pain is not usually a sign of lung cancer, but it could be if you also experience the following symptoms: fatigue, wheezing, worsening or increased coughing, weight loss, and unrelated weight loss.

If you’re not sure what is causing your upper back pain, consult a professional. A chiropractor can diagnose if the problem is spinal or joint-related. If it’s not, a doctor may recommend you visit a physician for further testing.

What is the best way to diagnose upper back pain?

Your healthcare provider will ask questions about your medical history and activity levels. They may also ask about your pain. These questions may include:

  • What year did the pain first begin?
  • Which part of the body is most affected by pain?
  • Is there anything that makes the pain go away?
  • Is there anything that makes the pain worse?

A physical exam may be performed by your healthcare provider. To determine how your movement affects your pain, they may ask you to lift your legs or bend your knees. Your healthcare provider might test your reflexes and muscle strength.

Your healthcare provider may order additional tests depending on the results. These tests could include:

  • X-ray: This uses radiation to create images of your spine’s bones.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan): This uses a magnet and radio waves, to take pictures of your bones, muscles, and other soft tissue in your spine.
  • Computed Tomography (CT scan): This uses X-rays to create 3D images and soft tissue in the spine.
  • Electromyography (EMG): This test checks the nerves and muscles of your spine for damage. It can also check for nerve damage (neuropathy) that could cause tingling in your legs.
  • Blood test: This can detect genetic markers that may be associated with back pain.

How can upper back pain be managed?

The cause and symptoms of your pain will determine the treatment you need. Most people with mild to moderate upper-back pain can manage their symptoms at home. Try these remedies to manage your symptoms:

  • There are many over-the-counter pain medication options, such as Tylenol (r) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that can be used.
  • Heat pad to reduce stiffness and pain
  • Ice packs to reduce swelling and pain
  • Massage for medical purposes
  • Get plenty of sleep.

What can I do at home to reduce or prevent upper back pain?

There are many home remedies that can help you prevent or reduce upper back pain. You can also try these other methods:

  • Exercise: It can help strengthen and stretch your upper back muscles.
  • Proper posture is important: Stand straight and be tall. Do not slump or slouch.
  • Stress reduction: Deep breathing, relaxation exercises, and meditation are some of the best ways to reduce stress.

When should I call my doctor if I feel pain in my upper back?

Lower back pain will usually resolve on its own. If you have any questions, consult your healthcare provider. Call your doctor or chiropractor if:

  • After a week, your upper back pain does not improve.
  • Any tingling or numbness in your legs or buttocks is a sign of a tingling sensation.
  • Severe pain or muscle spasms.
  • New symptoms may include fever, weight loss, bowel problems, or bladder problems.

These could be signs of a more severe condition.

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Posted by ccadmin


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