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What Causes Upper Back Pain?

Learn what causes upper back pain from physical therapist Eric Sampson in this Howcast video.


There are a number of causes to upper back pain.

The upper back is referred to the area just a little bit below the neck, maybe a few inches below the neck.

And the first thing you have to make sure when you're dealing with upper back pain and the cause of upper back pain is to make sure you're in the right area.

And the common injuries that occur with the upper back are usually associated with prolonged sitting and prolonged posturing in the sitting position.

The patients I tend to see with the upper back strains and pains are usually sitters. But they've been sitting for maybe two decades. They're into their 40s and 50s now and they've really promoted this poor posture for entirely too long.

Eventually, with the further worsening of your posture, we tend to slouch more in that upper back area. And that can lead to the breakdown of tissue.

Another common cause of the upper back problems is associated with the patients that are standing too much and looking over their work. For instance, architects and chefs have a hard time with their job because they're standing a lot but they're still bending their heads down and forward, further promoting a poor postural habit in that upper back area.

So, there's a lot of wear and tear to those tissues. You can have herniated or bulging disks. You can certainly have muscle strains.

But by and large, the causes are usually postural and they're usually prolonged postural problems. Usually chronics. 20 plus years. Or like I said, standing over their work for too long.

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