The Top 5 Upper Back Pain Causes

Upper Back Pain Causes

Upper back pain isn’t as common as low back pain, but when it happens, it is still as painful as low back pain. Additionally, when issues happen in the upper part of the back, it signals a more serious issue than a herniated disk or a muscle strain.

Today we look at the definition of upper back pain and the various causes of the condition.

Introduction to the Upper Back

The upper back is the area between the neck and the upper part of the lower back. The upper part of the back is totally different from the lower part because instead of this part being mobile and flexible, it is supposed to stay strong and provide stability for your body. Additionally, the upper back is the part of the body that gives you the strength to perform various actions such as sitting down and walking.

However, although it is stable and strong, it is vulnerable to injury, which in turn leads to back pain.

Top Causes of Upper Back Pain

1. Poor Posture

Pain in the upper part of the back can result from poor posture over various years. With the technology age comes the need to sit at desks all day, which in turn places a lot of strain on the upper back. The strain is as a result of slouching over when typing or writing, and coupled with the weight of the upper body, the structures in the upper part of the back feel all the brunt.

2. Muscular Irritation

Another cause of upper back pain is muscular irritation. This phenomenon arises due to overuse of the muscles in your shoulder or under-use of the muscles in this area. Under-use of the muscles causes them to weaken, which means they won’t be able to support the body as expected.

Another cause is overuse of the muscles in the upper part of your back. When muscles get overworked, they become irritated and this leads to swelling, which in turn causes back pain that can be hard to treat. A major cause of overuse is performing tasks that are repetitive or taking part in rigorous sports such as rowing.

3. Joint Dysfunction

Joints in the upper back are the joints that attach the ribs to each side of your spine. The thoracic vertebrae have a number of joints. Two of these joints, called facet joints link to other vertebrae, while another type of joint called the costovertebral joint links the vertebrae to the rib. Any dysfunction in these joints can cause pain in the upper back. The dysfunction might be due to injury or infection.

Another form of dysfunction occurs as a result of poor body mechanics. This can be excessive twisting, bending, lifting, which can damage the connective tissue that connects bone tissue together.

4. Degenerative Disease

The joints of the upper back can become stressed, which in turn leads to degenerative bone conditions such as arthritis. Such conditions can affect your spine and lead to upper back pain that radiates to the neck area.

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Signs of degenerative disease include pain and aches that often lead to restricted motion, which in turn leads to a stiff neck.

5. Thoracic Herniation

A herniated disc in your upper back can occur when the inner fluid material of a spinal disc leaks out of the disc. The extent of the pain depends on the size of the herniated disc as well as the pressure that is exerted on the spinal cord.

The specific symptoms of the herniated disc differ depending on the point from which the disc herniates. A herniated disc can impinge on a nerve root or even the spinal cord.

Treatment for Upper Back Pain

Diagnosis and treatment of upper back pain depend upon the cause. The physician usually uses radio imaging techniques to understand what the cause of the pain is. Proper diagnosis is necessary for effective treatment. The treatment process also depends on the localization of the pain. Mild pain takes a few days to heal, but chronic pain might need more than a few weeks to heal well.


Once you understand the cause of the upper back pain, you can take the necessary measures to treat it.

References and Further Reading

1. Upper and Middle Back Pain
2. A Prospective Study of Neck, Shoulder, and Upper Back Pain Among Technical School Students Entering Working Life
3. Back pain

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2 Replies to “The Top 5 Upper Back Pain Causes

  1. Hi i have pain in one of my upper back vertebra a few years ago and i can still feel the pain and it was due to the jump i did while running
    Can you please tell me should i do ?

    1. Hi I have pain on my upper back I’m not sure whether it is caused by lifting heavy things at work but now it’s been a year or more changed from that department or mybe it is caused by colds in my work place

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