What Could Be Causing Your Upper Back Pain?


The upper back is comprised of 12 vertebrae in the middle of the spine which allows you to stand upright and protects the organs in your chest. Upper back injuries and problems are less common than lower back problems are, but they can be just as serious and painful. If you're one of the unfortunate people who experience, upper back pain, read on to learn more.


Back pain that lasts from 4 to 12 weeks, or is directly related to tissue damage is known as acute back pain. If your back pain lasts longer than 3 months or is beyond the point of tissue healing, then you could be suffering from chronic back pain.


What causes Acute Upper Back Pain?

Would you describe your upper back pain with an adjective like "annoying" rather than "debilitating?" Can you trace its cause to something obvious: shoveling dirt, playing a demanding tennis match, helping a friend move? In these cases, you're probably suffering from the most common causes of acute back pain: muscle strain or overuse.

What are the Symptoms of Acute Upper Back Pain?

Acute upper back pain symptoms can differ from person to person. For some, the pain might be mild and go away within a couple days, but for others, the pain can worsen and interfere with daily tasks. With acute pain, the pain is a sign of injured or diseased tissue, the severity of the pain matches the level of tissue damage. When the tissue heals the corresponding pain is relieved. Upper back pain symptoms and treatment plans can vary depending on the cause of the underlying problem.

Some common symptoms of acute back pain are:

  • Sharp pain

  • General discomfort

  • Stiffness

  • Radiating pain

  • Tingling, numbness, or weakness

How Do You Treat Acute Upper Back Pain?

If you avoid strenuous activity for a couple of days, the pain should subside on its own. But don't avoid all activity! Not only is bed rest ineffective for treating minor back pain, but studies show it can actually make things worse.

Relief for minor back pain:

  • take it easy

  • take over-the-counter pain relievers as needed

  • use an ice pack (for swelling) or a heating pad (for stiffness)

  • be mindful of practicing good posture

 Upper back pain often corresponds to neck and shoulder pain. If your pain is radiating from the neck and shoulders, massage may also provide upper back pain relief.

How Do You Prevent Acute Upper Back Pain?

If you’ve experienced upper back pain, you know how bad it can be. Do yourself a favor and take steps to prevent it. When lifting heavy objects, squat and keep your back straight. Never bend at the waist to hoist something that might be heavy. Don’t slump or slouch; stand and sit tall.


What causes Chronic Upper Back Pain?

Chronic upper back pain may be a result from a serious cause or injury, like a car accident, or as a side effect of a medical cause such as joint dysfunction, herniated disc, or Scheuermann's Disease, a condition typically affecting teenagers. Unlike acute pain, which follows a straightforward path of cause and effect, the course of chronic pain varies widely. Chronic back pain is often categorized into two major categories; chronic pain with an identifiable cause and chronic pain with no identifiable cause.

Chronic pain with an identifiable cause includes:

Chronic pain with no identifiable cause is when pain persists after the tissue has healed and there is no clear reason for the pain.

What are the Symptoms of Chronic Upper Back Pain?

  • Intense pain affecting your ability to function

  • Pain ongoing for an extended period

  • Accompanied by numbness and tingling in your back or legs

  • Accompanied by fever, chest pain, weakness, unintended weight loss or difficulty urinating

How Do You Treat Chronic Upper Back Pain?

If you're experiencing upper back pain for a long time or it's so painful that you aren't able to participate in your daily schedule, you should schedule an appointment with a back specialist. The effectiveness of a particular treatment for chronic pain will often differ from person to person.  Most patients will have an exam and images completed before a diagnosis can be made. Procrastinating could lead to serious complications.

How Do You Prevent Chronic Upper Back Pain?

Not all causes of upper back pain can be prevented. If you are located in The Woodlands, Conroe, or the surrounding areas and you’re experiencing severe upper back pain that doesn't go away on its own after 7-10 days, contact our team for an appointment. Take care of your back by staying healthy and strong!