4 Common Causes of Upper Back Pain

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: April 8, 2019

Upper Back Pain

Lower back pain typically gets all the headlines, but it’s not the only area of your back that can end up causing you pain. The upper portion of your spine, also known as the cervical section, is also a familiar spot for spine pain and discomfort. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at four common causes of upper back pain, and we share some prevention and treatment techniques.

Muscle Deconditioning and General Soreness

The most common cause of upper back pain is simply muscle fatigue and general soreness. This may not sound like a big deal, but repetitive stress that goes untreated can lead to much more serious conditions, like a herniated cervical disc and nerve compression. Upper back muscle soreness is more common today than ever before, as more people are craning their necks forward to look at their phone. Be aware of your posture when you’re checking your phone or working at your desk if you want to avoid overstressing key muscle groups in your upper spine.


When the cartilage that cushions and protects your bones wears down, which occurs naturally as we age, osteoarthritis sets in. This can develop in your upper back and lead to nerve impingement or similar issues. Osteoarthritis is not reversible, so we need to be cognizant about preventing it from developing in the first place. We can do that by eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy posture throughout our daily lives.

Shifting Discs

Poor posture and spinal disc degeneration can lead to the shifting or moving of spinal discs. When these discs shift, bulge or herniate, they can compress spinal nerves or even the spinal cord, causing serious pain and discomfort. Having good spinal posture can keep the discs in your cervical spine from shifting, as can activities that strengthen your discs, like exercise, a healthy diet and avoiding smoking. If physical therapy can’t treat the problem, disc fusion or replacement are common treatment options.


If you’ve ever been in a car accident or been tackled hard in a football game, you may have experienced what’s known as whiplash. Whiplash occurs when you suffer a forceful trauma that whips your head backwards or forwards, damaging the muscles and soft tissues of the neck and upper back. Rest and gentle stretching exercises are great ways to allow a whiplash injury to heal, but for more serious cases, hands-on intervention by a skilled spine specialist can help.

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