Upper Back Pain: The Top 5 Causes and What You Can Do About Them

Upper Back Pain: The Top 5 Causes and What You Can Do About Them

Do you suffer from upper back pain? If so, you are not alone. This is a very common problem that can be caused by a variety of things. In this blog post, we will discuss the top causes of upper back pain and what you can do about them. We will also provide some tips for preventing this type of pain from occurring in the first place. Let’s get started!

The main causes of upper back pain include:

Muscle strain or injury 

This can happen when you engage in activities that require repetitive motions or overexertion of the muscles. It can also occur due to poor posture and not using proper technique during physical activity.

Poor posture

Slouching, hunching over, and sitting for prolonged periods of time without taking breaks can all contribute to pain in the upper back 

2 easy exercises you can do to improve your posture courtesy of Surrey 88 Ave Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic


This is a degenerative joint disease that can cause pain and stiffness in the upper back. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and generally affects people as they age. The condition occurs when the protective cartilage that covers the ends of bones wears down over time. This can lead to pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints. Osteoarthritis can also cause upper back pain.

Disc herniation

Also known as a slipped disc, this occurs when one of the discs between the vertebrae in your spine becomes displaced or ruptures, leading to pressure on nearby nerves and resulting in upper back pain.


This is a condition where the spine curves to the side, often causing pain and discomfort in the upper back. Scoliosis is a condition that causes the spine to curve sideways. The spine may look like an “S” or a “C.” Scoliosis usually begins in childhood or adolescence. If it’s not treated, scoliosis can get worse as you grow older. The good news is that most cases of scoliosis can be successfully treated with a combination of treatments that can stop the progression of the disease and relieve pain.

Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS)

Is a condition that causes chronic pain in the muscles and connective tissues. The symptoms of MPS can vary from person to person, but they often include muscle aches, stiffness, and tenderness. The most common type of MPS affects the upper back, causing pain and stiffness in the shoulders and neck. The exact cause of MPS is unknown, but it is believed to be related to overuse of the muscles or trigger points. Treatment for MPS typically involves a combination of stretching exercises, massage, and heat therapy. With proper treatment, most people with MPS can find relief from their symptoms.

Referred Pain

When most people think of upper back pain, they assume that the pain is originating from the muscles, bones, or joints in that area. However, upper back pain can also be caused by referred pain, which is pain that originates from another part of the body. For example, diaphragmatic (upper stomach) muscle tenderness can refer to pain in the shoulder and neck, while intercostal muscle (between the ribs) tenderness can refer to pain in the scapula (shoulder blade). As a result, it is important to see a doctor or a physiotherapist if you are experiencing upper back pain, as the cause may not be immediately obvious. With their help, you can determine the source of your pain and find the treatment that will provide relief.

So, what can you do about these causes of upper back pain

First, it is important to see your doctor for a proper diagnosis. They may suggest physiotherapy to alleviate the pain. Stretching, practicing good posture, and taking breaks during physical activity can also help prevent and relieve your back pain. A customized home exercise program will help you to maintain a healthy back. It is also important to try to maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly to keep your muscles strong and supportive of your spine.

How can physiotherapy help upper back pain?

Physiotherapy can help alleviate upper back pain by strengthening the muscles and improving posture. Physiotherapists may also use techniques such as manual therapy, (massage and joint mobilization) and laser to relieve muscle tension and pain.

Taking steps to prevent upper back pain is important in maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. Remember to practice good posture, take breaks during physical activity, and see a doctor or physiotherapist if you experience persistent pain. With the right prevention and treatment measures, you can say goodbye to back pain for good!

We hope this blog post was helpful. If you’d like to find a top physiotherapy clinic near you just click the find a clinic near me button on this page.

Physiotherapy helps with these common conditions courtesy of Surrey 88 Ave Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

If your back pain is persistent and does not improve with at-home treatments or over-the-counter medications, it is important to see a doctor. Additionally, if the pain is accompanied by other symptoms such as numbness or tingling, difficulty breathing, or loss of bladder or bowel control, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

Stress can contribute to upper back pain, as it can cause tension in the muscles and impact posture. It is important to find ways to manage and reduce stress in order to prevent or alleviate back pain. This may include exercise, meditation, talking to a therapist.

Sudden onset of upper back pain can be caused by a sudden injury or strain, referred pain from another area of the body, or even poor posture. It is important to see a physiotherapist to determine the cause and find appropriate treatment.

About Howard Morris

Howard Morris is a registered physiotherapist with the Allied Physiotherapy Health Group. He treats patients with various musculoskeletal conditions using patient education, progressive exercise therapy, manual therapy, muscle trigger point release and muscle energy techniques to restore full function. His treatment philosophy involves providing his patients with the know-how to self-manage their injuries. He aims to provide his patients with quality treatment and care that exceeds expectations.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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