Upper Back Pain Causes, Risk Factors, Prevention And Treatment


Back pain is one of the most common reasons people miss work or need medical care. Back pain is the most typical cause of disability worldwide.

Thankfully, most cases of back pain may be avoided or addressed, especially for people under the age of 60. If prevention fails, the back can be swiftly repaired with simple self-care and regular, appropriate use of the body.

Surgery is not usually required to alleviate back pain.


During exams or imaging procedures, backache commonly occurs out of the blue. Back discomfort and the following conditions are commonly linked:

Tension on a muscle or ligament. Frequent heavy lifting or an abrupt painful movement might strain the back muscles and spinal ligaments. Constant tension on the back might result in uncomfortable muscle spasms in persons who are not in good physical shape.

Burst or bulging discs. Discs act as insulators between the bones of the spine. A disk's soft interior might swell or burst, pressing on a nerve. However, a ruptured or bulging disc may not necessarily be the source of back pain. Disc disease is commonly detected in spine X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs undertaken for another reason.

Arthritis. Lower back pain is a side effect of osteoarthritis. Occasionally, arthritis spinal stenosis is a disorder in which there is a narrowing of the space around the spinal cord in the spine.

Osteoporosis. If the bones become porous and fragile, the vertebrae in the spine may suffer excruciating breakage.

How to check if you have Upper Back Pain?

The majority of back pain gradually improves over the course of a few weeks with home treatment and self-care. Please access medical assistance, if you should experience any of the following symptoms of back pain:

  • More than a couple weeks in length
  • Is serious and does not get better with rest
  • Especially if the discomfort extends past the knee, the pain may spread down one or both legs.
  • Causes one or both legs to become weak, numb, or tingly
  • Accompanied by an inexplicable decrease in weight

Back discomfort occasionally indicates a significant medical condition. Access medical assistance, when you have back discomfort that:

  • Creates fresh bowel or bladder issues
  • Is accompanying a fever
  • Is after a fall, back injury, or other trauma

Risk Factors

Back discomfort may affect anybody, even kids and teenagers. These elements may raise the possibility of experiencing back pain:

Age. Beginning about age 30 or 40, back discomfort becomes more often as we get older.

Exercise inactivity. Back discomfort may be caused by weak, underused muscles in the back and abdomen.

Extra weight. Body weight that is too much strains the back.

Diseases. Back discomfort can be exacerbated by some cancers and forms of arthritis.

Incorrect lifting. Back discomfort might result from using the back instead of the legs.

Psychological disorders. People who are prone to despair and worry appear to experience back aches more frequently. Muscle tension brought on by stress may cause back aches.

Smoking. Back discomfort among smokers is more common. This might happen due to the fact that smoking induces coughing, which might result in disc herniation. Smoking also lowers blood flow to the spine and increases the risk of osteoporosis.


Back discomfort might feel like shooting, searing, or stabbing pain in the muscles. Furthermore, the soreness could go down a leg. Bending, twisting, lifting, standing, or walking might make it worse.


By keeping excellent physical health, learning optimal body mechanics, and using them regularly, back discomfort may be prevented.

To maintain a strong and healthy back:

Exercise. Regular low-impact aerobic exercises, or those that do not strain or shock the back, can improve back strength and endurance and muscular function. The best options are swimming, biking, and walking. Inquire with your doctor about the best activities to attempt. Build flexibility and strength in your muscles. Exercises for the back and abdomen assist train these muscles so they cooperate to support the back. Additionally, these workouts aid in strengthening the core.

keep a healthy weight. Being overweight puts tension on the back muscles.

Give up smoking. If you smoke, you are more likely to have back discomfort. The danger rises as you smoke more cigarettes.

Steer clear of postures that twist or strain your back. To appropriately use the body:

Stand wisely. Avoid slouching. Keep your pelvis in a neutral position. Placing one foot on a low footstool will help your lower back when standing for long amounts of time.

Swap the feet. With proper posture, the tension in the back muscles can be reduced.

Smart seating. A seat with armrests, a swivel base, and good lower back support is recommended. A cushion or towel wrapped up can be placed in the small of the back to retain the natural bend. Keep your hips and knees level. Change positions often, at least once every half an hour.

Smart lifting. If at all possible, avoid hard lifting. If you need to carry anything heavy, let your legs go down.

Make the effort. Do not twist your back; instead, keep it straight and simply bend at the knees. Hold the weight snugly against your body. If the thing is uncomfortable or heavy, get a buddy to help you lift it.


The majority of back pain sufferers, especially those under 60, find that home therapy is most effective after a month. Many people have discomfort for several months.

It could just be necessary to utilise heat and painkillers. It is not advised to stay in bed.

With back discomfort, keep up your activities as much as you can. Try a quick workout like walking. Avoid action because of dread of pain, but stop the activity that makes the pain worse. Home cures may not work after a few weeks of trying, in which case your doctor may suggest stronger medications or other therapies.


Drugs are prescribed based on the type of back pain. They might consist of:

Drugs that reduce pain. NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, and others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), may be of assistance. Use these and only take drugs as prescribed. Serious adverse effects might result from overuse. Your healthcare professional can advise prescription NSAIDs if over-the-counter painkillers are ineffective.

Muscle relaxants. A muscle relaxant could be helpful if mild to moderate back pain does not get better after taking painkillers. Dizziness and drowsiness can be brought on by muscle relaxants.

Topical analgesics. These items provide painkillers through the skin, including creams, salves, ointments, and patches.

Narcotics. Opioid-containing medications, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, may be administered under medical supervision for a brief period of time.

Antidepressants. Chronic back pain has been demonstrated to be reduced by several antidepressants, notably duloxetine (Cymbalta) and tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline.

Physical exercise

A physical therapist can provide activities to strengthen the body, promote flexibility, and strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, and posture. Regular use of these methods can aid in preventing pain from reappearing. Physical therapists will also instruct patients on how to adapt their activities when experiencing a backache episode to prevent pain flare-ups and keep up their activity levels.

Techniques, both surgical and otherwise

The following techniques may be used to alleviate back pain:

Shots of cortisone. An injection of cortisone and a numbing agent into the region around the spinal cord and nerve roots may be helpful if previous treatments are ineffective at relieving pain that travels down the leg. The inflammation surrounding the nerve roots is reduced with a cortisone injection, but the pain alleviation often only lasts for a month or two.

Ablation with radiofrequency. A little needle is placed into the skin close to the place where there is discomfort. To harm the adjacent nerves, radio waves are sent through the needle. Damage to the nerves prevents the brain from receiving pain signals.

Nerve stimulators that are implanted. Certain nerves can receive electrical impulses from implants placed under the skin that suppress pain signals.

Surgery. Sometimes persons with developing muscular weakness or leg discomfort from their back might benefit from surgery to increase space in the spine. Herniated discs or other diseases that cause the holes in the spine to close down may be the cause of these issues.

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Page last reviewed: Mar 21, 2023

Next review due: Mar 21, 2025

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