Are you experiencing discomforting pain in your upper back? Is it hampering your quality of life? If yes, you need to learn about the causes and ways to prevent or get rid of the upper back pain. Upper back pain is the pain that occurs anywhere from the base of your neck till the bottom of your rib cage. It is not as common as the lower back pain or neck pain, as the vertebrae do not flex or move as the bones of your lower back and neck do. Read on to learn more about the treatment and causes of upper back pain.

What Causes Upper Back Pain?

  • Poor Posture: Having a sedentary lifestyle or sitting for a long period of time in a slumping or slouching position can cause structural changes in the back or neck.
  • Overuse/Injury: Putting the upper back through more work than usual, such as lifting heavy weight, carrying heavy backpack just over one shoulder, repetitive throwing, bending, or twisting, may make you suffer from the upper back pain. Injuries, such as being hit hard on the back, a sudden fall, and similar others may make you suffer from the upper back pain.
  • Thoracic Herniated Disc: Herniated disc can cause nerve compression, which could cause pain in the back.
  • Compression Fractures: A vertebral bone can become weak and not be able to fully support the weight above it which may lead to a fracture of the bones.
  • Arthritis: Various types of arthritis can occur in or spread to the thoracic spine.
  • Fibromyalgia: This is often caused by overuse or deconditioning of the muscles. This condition is known for widespread pain and fatigue throughout the body, and the upper back is commonly affected.
  • Severe Spinal Deformity: If a spinal deformity progresses enough, it can cause painful muscle spasms and also stress in the discs and joints.

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11 Effective Ways To Treat Upper Back Pain:

Lifestyle Changes

  • Exercise & Stretches: Going for regular walks, non-contact sports, and stretching can strengthen the muscle group which supports your mid-back which relieves you of the pain. Both stretches and general exercises, such as swimming, cycling, and walking, are recommended treatment for upper back pain. Also, go for Pilates sessions and yoga regularly to get rid of the upper and middle back pain.
  • Practice Better Posture: Following a good posture throughout the day while sitting, walking, or lifting heavy objects can reduce the risk of developing pain. Simple changes while working, bending the knees, when lifting the heavy objects, placing straps over both the shoulders instead of just one and when wearing a backpack can avoid stress on your back and help you obtain relief the pain.
  • Rest & Activity Modification: If the pain gets worse with certain movements or activities, a short rest period may help. For example, if performing certain tasks exacerbate the pain, avoid that activity rather than push through the discomfort. After taking a short rest, try to continue the activity again.

Other than lifestyle changes, here are some more ways to prevent the discomforting upper back pain.

  • Ice Or Heat: Ice may be applied to reduce swelling within the first couple of days of the pain. The application of heat is usually recommended after the initial 48 hours. Ice or heat applications provide gradual relief from the stiffness and pain in the upper back.
  • Massage: A good massage can help loosen the tight muscles and allow more blood to flow to the painful area. A physiotherapist may recommend specific exercises along with a relaxing massage to relieve you of the upper and middle back pain.
  • Acupuncture: It involves putting tiny needles into your skin at a certain area to help you obtain relief from the pain and promote healing.
  • Sleeping: A comfortable bed and proper position of sleeping is the best way to avoid back pain. An uncomfortable bed or sleeping position could lead to pain and stiffness in your back.
  • Painkillers: Over the counter medications are available to relieve the pain. Acetaminophen or NSAIDs are available to help you obtain relief from the pain and swelling.
  • Quit Smoking: Studies have shown that the people who smoke are more likely to have chronic back pain, as it accelerates the degeneration of spinal discs.
  • Reduce Stress: Learning ways to reduce stress can help control the upper back pain. Deep breathing, relaxation exercises, and meditation could help you in a great way.
  • Stay Positive: It’s important to stay positive when in pain, although it’s difficult, it can help you overall faster recovery.

Also Read: Could your Back Pain be Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Proper posture and certain lifestyle changes could help you to prevent upper back pain. So, if you happen to suffer from the upper back pain anytime, please follow these tips to obtain relief from it.

Written by Dr. Renuka, Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah 


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