Call Us for Consultation

Understanding Upper Back Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Relief

Understanding Upper Back Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Relief

The upper back, also known as the thoracic spine, is the area between the base of your neck and the bottom of your ribcage. While less common than lower back pain, upper back pain can nonetheless be a debilitating and frustrating problem. Let’s dive into the causes, symptoms, and ways to find relief.

Common Causes of Upper Back Pain

  • Muscle strain: Overuse, improper lifting, or even repetitive movements can strain the muscles supporting your upper back.
  • Poor posture: Slouching forward puts immense pressure on the upper spine and its muscles.
  • Degenerative disc disease: Wear and tear on the spinal discs (the cushions between your vertebrae) can lead to pain.
  • Osteoarthritis: This form of arthritis causes the breakdown of cartilage in the joints of the spine, leading to pain and stiffness.
  • Myofascial pain syndrome: A condition where trigger points in the muscles cause referred pain in seemingly unrelated areas, including the upper back.
  • Lifting and Carying: Carrying or lifting something heavy can strain the upper back. People should take care to use safe lifting practices when pushing, pulling, or lifting items.
  • Less common causes: In rarer cases, upper back pain can be caused by problems like fractures, infections, or tumors.

Signs and Symptoms: How Does Upper Back Pain Feel?

  • Aching or sharp pain: It may be localized between your shoulder blades or radiate outward.
  • Stiffness: Difficulty moving your upper back or feeling like it’s locked in place.
  • Tenderness to touch: The muscles in the area might feel especially sore when pressed.
  • Muscle spasms: Involuntary muscle contractions can cause intense pain.
  • Headaches: Tension in the upper back and neck can sometimes trigger headaches.

Relief Strategies: What to Do About Upper Back Pain

  1. Dry Needling: Inserting the needle into the trigger point causes a local twitch response, helping to relax the contracted muscle fibers. This reduces pain and tension in the upper back.

  2. Improve your posture: Be mindful of sitting and standing up straight. Ergonomic adjustments at work can make a big difference.

  3. Physiotherapy: A physical therapist provides targeted exercises to stretch and strengthen your upper back muscles, correct posture, and improve range of motion.

When to See Your Doctor

Consult your physio for proper evaluation and if you experience:

  • Severe or persistent pain
  • Pain after an injury or fall
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness spreading down your arms
  • Fever, chills, or unexplained weight loss

Prevention is Key

To prevent recurring upper back pain, try these tips:

  • Regular exercise: Strengthening and stretching exercises for your back and core muscles.
  • Maintain good posture: Throughout daily activities, focus on keeping your back straight and shoulders pulled back.
  • Ergonomic workplace: Ensure your desk and chair setup supports good posture

Don't Let It Rule Your Life

Upper back pain can be a pain, but it doesn’t have to control you. Understanding the cause and utilizing the right treatments can put you on the path to recovery and help prevent future issues.


Stop letting the pain get in the way. We’re here for you.


I understand how pain and difficulty moving can limit all the things you love to do. We’re here to help you get out of pain, get moving again, and back to living YOUR best life. We’ve been helping the community of Charleville and Limerick for the last 22 years.

"I spent a fortune over 10 years and even had appointments re only step I had left to consider, surgery..... after suffering awful with chronic tennis elbow. I decided to try one last physio as I had been interested in Don for a while, but reluctant. Hewas brilliant, 95% improvement in my therapy. I would strongly recommend Don for this ailment ."
Jackie Webb
"Cannot recommend Dom enough. I injured my trap in the gym and couldn't straighen my neck, was in bits, very uncomfortable. Rang him and he was able to squeeze me in within a few hours. While he was treating my shoulder I mentioned an ongoing issue with my elbow and he said we may aswell sort that too. Immediate relief on both when finished. An absolute gentleman to deal with. Recommend 100%."
Shane Keogh
"I have had serious pain in my legs for over 6 years, I have had bone density scans, blood tests, specialists and even put on hrt, all to no avail, gave up on finding out what was wrong until I went to Don, found him by accident, but what a find. 6 weeks in and the results are amazing, diagnosed me in the first 5 minutes of the consultation and the pain is decreasing every week. I would highly recommend Don, 5 stars isn't enough!!"
Jessie Skehan

Check out our 5 star reviews on Google and Facebook!

We’ve helped thousands of people just like you and your recovery is our TOP PRIORITY.

Please fill out your information below and I'll be happy to see how I can best serve you.
Marketing by