Upper Back Pain
Introduction to Upper Back Pain
Upper back pain is a highly common condition. Though it isn’t usually caused by a serious medical condition it is worth investigating if persistent, severe, or gradually worsening.
What is Upper Back Pain?
Upper back pain is a highly common condition that many people will experience at some point in their lives. Though it isn’t usually caused by a serious medical condition it is worth investigating if persistent, severe, or gradually worsening.
What are the causes for Upper Back Pain?
The potential causes of back pain are also highly variable and as a result it is important to be able to present an accurate description of the pain and your lifestyle to a clinician.
Potential causes include poor posture, whiplash and other forms of acute trauma, prolonged periods in awkward positions such as during sleep, twisting sharply, straining muscles with overactivity and unsafe lifting technique.
Upper back pain is also associated with being overweight, smoking and advanced age. Moreover it may have a psychological rather than an anatomical cause and be associated with depression or anxiety.
What are the symptoms of Upper Back Pain?
The nature of back pain may be highly variable in type, severity, duration and location depending on what the cause may be. It may be characterised as dull, sharp, stabbing or as an ache, and it may or may not radiate towards other parts of your anatomy such as your limbs and extremities. It may also present alongside tingling or pins and needles in different areas depending if the cause can be attributed to your upper back or neck. It is important to remember for how long the pain has been present and whether any factors are associated with it, such as whether it is more or less severe with activity or if it is particularly bad at certain times of day.
Ultimately the symptoms are highly variable, though having an accurate description of the pain will help greatly in determining a diagnosis and an appropriate course of treatment.
How is Upper Back Pain treated?
Treatment is highly dependent on the cause of your back pain but initial treatments often include over the counter painkillers. Should the upper back pain persist then physical therapy, massage and other therapies may be included in your treatment. Other causes may be explored and you may be described antidepressants and counselling if a psychological cause is determined.
Many people believe that resting until symptoms resolve themselves is a viable course of action though research has consistently shown that people who maintain an active lifestyle and keep moving despite the pain ultimately have significantly better outcomes.
Lifestyle choices such as changing your sleeping conditions and activities will be considered and you may be asked to attend a pain clinic to better inform you about how you can maintain your quality of life with upper back pain.
The most severe cases can be treated surgically through spinal fusion where two vertebrae are surgically immobilised, or via a discectomy where the tissue between the two vertebrae is removed thereby stabilising them in relation to each other.