Upper Back Pain: 9 Causes

Upper Back Pain: 9 Causes

What Are The Most Likely Causes Of Upper Back Pain?

In many cases, pain in the upper back is as a result of injury, muscle overuse, or poor posture. Treatment might include various home remedies, including gentle exercises and rest, or probably visiting a physical therapist. 

Generally speaking, the upper back is the place between the neck’s base and the bottom of the ribcage. The upper back consists typically of 12 bones, which doctors refer to as the thoracic spine. The upper back’s first bone starts at the base of the neck, while the 12th bone reaches just below the ribcage. Anywhere between these bones can act as a target for upper back pain. 

Most people explain upper back pain as a pulling or burning sensation in a particular place, which might be the location of strain or injury. 


What Are the Common Reasons for Upper Back Pain?

While it is less common compared to neck pain or lower back pain, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men might experience upper back pain, based on a certain study at Occupational Medicine. Doctors often refer to upper back pain as TSP or thoracic spine pain. 

Some of the common causes include:


1. Poor posture and muscle deconditioning

Using the muscles less incorrectly or infrequently can lead to back pain.

Over time, an individual can condition their muscles to be more enduring or stronger via exercises and weight training. Unfortunately, the reverse is true. Over time, humans might decondition their muscles by not using them appropriately. 

In some muscles, such as back muscles, deconditioning could be as simple as sitting at a desk with poor posture for too long. And anyone might do this while at work.

 Also, slouching in your chair over a desk might result in a loss of strength in your muscles. The weakening of muscles might result in pain in the area over time since they experience irritation or strains. 

Once a person slouches, the pressure from the body itself and gravity pushes on the ligaments, discs, neck, and spine. Over time, this pressure could result in pain and other complications. In most cases, it’s possible to condition your muscles to be more durable and stronger. The process begins with rectifying the posture while sitting, and setting aside regular breaks from your desk to stretch and move around. 

Exercises might also enhance strength in the back, and making use of a standing desk can assist, as well. 

Although conditioning the muscle needs patience, anyone who has chronic upper back pain due to weak muscles may gain from visiting a physical therapist to figure out an exercise routine for their particular requirements.


2. Muscle overuse

Another prevalent cause of upper back pain is overusing back muscles. Typically, this occurs because of repeating the same motions or activities over time. This could be a cause of:

  • irritation
  •  tightness
  • muscle strain

A pitcher in baseball is a classic example of how exactly this works since s/he makes a similar motion each time they pitch, and this can usually take a toll on their shoulder. 

Certain repetitive activities might cause similar pain. For instance, someone who carries things above their head for the entire day, has to make the same motion throughout the day, might begin to experience strain, tightness, or muscle irritation. If they ignore these signs, this could lead to chronic pain. 

Typically, treatment for muscle overuse starts with resting the area and using ice packs or heat to enhance blood circulation to other muscle tissues. It might also help in finding ways to take breaks between activities or to avoid the repeated motion wherever possible. 

A physical therapist might advise exercises to enhance strength and flexibility in the area. 


3. Herniated disc

Discs within the spine secure the vertebrae from rubbing against one another. 

Although it’s more common for herniated discs to occur in the lower back, it might sometimes happen in the upper back as well. Discs are generally the soft, rubbery cushions found between each vertebra. Typically, herniated discs occur whenever a piece of cushion cuts through and exerts pressure on the spine. 

Even a little amount of pressure can lead to great pain in the middle of your back, and other symptoms, such as weakness or numbness in the legs or arms. 

Most people don’t require surgery when it comes to herniated discs and will always recover by taking anti-inflammatory medications or with rest.


4. Traumatic injury

Another common cause of back pain is a traumatic injury. This might be the result of situations that include:

  •  working out too hard
  •  lifting incorrectly
  •  work-related accidents
  •  slipping and falling
  •  car accidents

Sometimes, the injury is obvious, and pain appears only after the accident. In other cases, the pain might not develop until the later or the following day. 

Traumatic injuries can be serious, and problems from injuries, for instance, fractured vertebrae, can put a person at a higher risk of lasting complications, such as chronic pain, paralysis, and nerve damage. 

A doctor must look at every potential back injury since they must heal appropriately to avoid long-term pain. 

Also, a doctor might refer the individual to a physical therapist or physiologist to help muscle injuries in healing correctly. For severe injuries, surgery might be necessary.


5. Osteoarthritis

Sometimes, the source of back pain is not the muscles, but an issue in the joints and bones. As a person ages, the cartilage that safeguards and cushions the bones might wear down. Osteoarthritis is the term for this. As stated by the United States National Institute of Aging, osteoarthritis is the most prevalent type of arthritis

Eventually, osteoarthritis might result in the cartilage between the bones entirely wearing away, which causes the bones to rub together. Also, this can exert pressure in the spine’s nerves, leading to tingling or numbness in the legs or arms. 

Anyone who thinks they have osteoarthritis must visit a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Typically, treatment focuses on keeping the joints functioning and controlling pain.




6. Pinched nerve

Sometimes a herniated disc could slip further out such that it compresses the surrounding nerve.

Generally, a pinched nerve in your middle back might cause:

  • loss of control or weakness in the legs
  • issues with controlling urination
  • pain and numbness in the legs or arms

Once a pinched nerve originates from a herniated disc, then the treatment is quite similar to that of treating the herniated disc. Usually, a pinched nerve doesn’t require surgery; however, in some cases, doctors might advise spinal steroid injections. 


7. Spinal infection

Sometimes surgery might be required to treat a spinal infection. An infection might rarely be the reason for upper back pain. Simply put, a spinal epidural abscess is generally a collection of pus and germs that form between the bones and the spinal cord of the spine. 

Typically, the abscess can develop and swell, resulting in pain. Since early diagnosis is essential, medical specialists will treat a spinal abscess fast to avoid serious complications. Antibiotics might assist, and surgery might be required to clear the abscess and lower the risk of complications. According to a particular study at BioMed Research International, mortality can range from 2-25% in individuals with spinal epidural abscess since it might take a longer time to diagnose their condition.


8. Myofascial pain

Pain might also stem from issues in the back’s connective tissue, which doctors refer to as the fascia. 

Myofascial pain might start after overuse or an injury; however, chronic myofascial pain might last long after the original injury. In some cases, it’s still unknown why myofascial pain progresses. 

Doctors might advise myofascial release therapy and physical therapy to allow an individual to work the fascia and, in turn, relieve the pain.


9. Lung cancer

In sporadic cases, back pain might be because of lung cancer.

 According to a particular study, complications can result in cancer spreading to the bones in approximately 30-40% of people who have non-small cell lung cancer. 


Other Conditions Relating to Upper Back Pain

Certain conditions affecting the muscles or spine might also result in upper back pain. 

Some of these conditions include:

  •  problematic kyphosis
  •  spinal deformity
  •  fibromyalgia
  •  scoliosis

Treatment for all conditions are different and will have varying levels of success. 


How Do You Prevent Upper Back Pain?

It might not be possible to prevent every cause of upper back pain; however, there are a few simple steps people can take that might avoid some of the more prevalent causes. Some of these steps include:

  • Take frequent breaks from lying down or sitting to move and stretch different muscle groups.
  •  Take regular breaks while working at your desk to stretch to make the muscles stay strong and loose.
  •  People who prefer lifting weights must avoid lifting with their back or twisting.
  •  Take some minutes to warm up the body or stretch the muscles before any activities.
  •  Work with a professional physical therapist to keep pressure off the joints and strengthen weak muscles.
  •  Have regular massages to help in working out the tension of the muscles. If you want a tool that could massage all areas of your body, the PSO-RITE was specifically created to assist with various lower back and hip problems. 
  •  Avoid wearing heavy purses or backpacks.
  • Be aware of posture at all times, sitting correctly, walking upright, and using back supports if need be.



PSO-RITE is a no brainer when it comes to relieving upper back pain. Its patented design mimics the hand and elbow of a massage therapist.


What does the PSO-RITE do?

  • Increases circulation, relaxation and warmth to the muscles, and increases mobility. The PSO-RITE is used for muscle lengthening and joint decompression, which enhances physical performance. It also adds range of motion by releasing tension in the muscle allowing the joint to have more space, increasing mobility/movement.
  • What is releasing?  the cross link adhesions between the muscle fibers.
  • Increasing Capacity which will increase your Performance


Where do you use PSO-RITE?

  • Everywhere: Hip flexor, psoas, lower back, shoulder, neck etc.
  • Along any muscle


You can also visit our store and check out our Psoas Muscle Massager that can help in releasing your psoas muscle and stretching your muscles.


Outlook on Upper Back Pain Symptoms, Treatments, and Prevention

In most cases, back pain appears due to lifestyle issues, like overused or weak muscles from repetitive behaviors. In such cases, lifestyle changes, like stretching and regular exercise, might help in relieving pain. After visiting https://pso-rite.com/collections/all, you’ll find several products used for joint decompression and muscle lengthening, and this enhances overall physical performance. 

In cases of chronic back pain and trauma, you should see a doctor and get a diagnosis. If you’re unsure of where to begin, you should ask your doctor about their available plan and treatment options. They might advise specific exercises or refer you to a physical therapist.

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