If you ask a physician, which you should if you have upper back pain, you will learn that upper back pain has a number of causes as well as symptoms.
“I have upper back pain between my shoulders,” says one person. “My upper back pain is in my neck,” says another. “I have pain in upper back when swallowing,” says a third person. It is unusual to have pain with swallowing that is related to back muscle pain, and this person will obviously want to see a physician if symptoms persist.
But what causes the more common upper back pain?
Upper Back Pain Means Something Is Amiss
Pain is always a warning signal, so you will not want to ignore upper back pain. It may be something as simple as muscle strain, or it may signal something more.
Much upper back pain is the result of a muscle strain. Your back muscles constantly work to keep your spine aligned and healthy. To do so, they gently tug left, right, up and down. If they are forced to pull too long or too suddenly in one direction or another, they can become strained. This happens most frequently when unexercised muscles lack strength, or when muscles become injured because they are forced to repeat motions (overuse injury).
Causes of Upper Back Pain
The following is a limited list of upper back pain causes.
- Prolonged time hunched over a computer keyboard
- Unmanaged stress in workplace or home
- Improper sleeping posture
- Muscle injury caused by sports
- Muscle injury caused by improper exercise
Even wearing clothing that is too tight or too heavy can cause upper back pain.
As you can see, common upper back pain is usually a result of either muscular irritation or joint dysfunction.
1. Muscular Irritation
Upper back pain is frequently caused by irritation of the large muscles that attach your shoulder girdle to your shoulder blades and the back of your rib cage.
TREATMENT: Gentle exercise is a good treatment of upper back pain. Massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic or osteopathic treatments are also options. The focus is to stretch and strengthen muscles to relieve present pain and avoid upper back pain in the future.
2. Joint Dysfuntion
Upper back pain is less frequently caused by improper functioning of the two joints that connect your ribs with your spine in back.
TREATMENT: This upper back pain is usually treated by manual manipulation to mobilize the joints. You will want to have this performed by a therapist. Again, gentle exercise is vital.
What Should I Do?
We always recommend seeing a physician if back pain seems unusual or persists more than a few days. Upper back pain is no exception.
In rare cases, upper back pain may be connected with thoracic disc disease. This condition needs to be diagnosed with x-rays or CAT/MRI scans and medical advice given by a trained professional.