Pain in the upper back is usually the result of poor posture, muscle overuse, or injury. Treatment may include home remedies, such as rest and gentle exercises, or possibly seeing a physical therapist.
The upper back is the area between the base of the neck and the bottom of the ribcage. There are 12 bones that make up the upper back, which doctors call the thoracic spine. The first bone of the upper back begins at the base of the neck, and the 12th bone ends just below the ribcage. Upper back pain can appear anywhere between these bones.
Most people describe upper back pain as a burning or pulling sensation in one place, which may be the location of injury or strain.
Common causes of upper back pain
People can condition their muscles over time to be stronger or more enduring through exercises and weight training.
The reverse is also true. Humans may decondition their muscles over time by not using them correctly.
In some muscles, including back muscles, deconditioning is as easy as sitting at a desk with incorrect posture for too long. A person may do this while at work.
Slouching in a chair over a desk may cause a loss of strength in the muscles. Over time, the weakening of muscles may lead to pain in the area as they experience strains or irritation.
When a person slouches, pressure from gravity and the body itself pushes on the spine, neck, discs, and ligaments. Over time, this pressure can lead to pain and other complications.
It is possible to condition the muscles to be stronger and more durable in most cases. This process starts with correcting the posture while sitting, and taking regular breaks from the desk to move around and stretch.
A traumatic injury can also lead to back pain. This may be the result of situations that include:
slipping and falling
working out too hard
Preventing upper back pain
It may not be possible to prevent all causes of upper back pain, but there are some easy steps people can take that may avoid some of the more common causes. These include:
Take regular breaks from sitting or lying down to stretch and move different muscle groups.
Take frequent breaks when working at a desk to stretch, so the muscles stay loose and strong.
Take a few minutes to stretch the muscles or warm up the body before any activities.
People who lift heavy objects should avoid twisting or lifting with their back.
Have regular massages to help work out the tension of the muscles.
Work with a physical therapist to strengthen weak muscles and keep pressure off the joints.
Avoid wearing heavy backpacks or purses.
Be conscious of posture at all times, walking upright and sitting correctly, using back supports if necessary.
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