Management of upper back pain

Fact Checked

Upper back pain is usually caused by poor sitting position or standing posture or it can be a result of a minor trauma from performing exercises or playing sports.

Symptoms of upper back pain

  • A burning and sharp pain
  • Sore to touch which indicates a strained muscle
  • Stiffness and tightness of the muscle
  • Weakness of the arms and legs
    Upper back pain
    Stiffness and tightness of the muscle.
  • Numbness and tingling sensations in the arms, chest, belly and the legs
  • Loss of bladder control


  • Poor posture
  • Muscle strain, overuse, injury to the ligaments, muscles and discs that functions in supporting the spine
  • Pressure placed on the spinal nerves due to herniated disc.
  • Fracture of one of the vertebrae
  • Osteoarthritis due to the breakdown of cartilage that function in cushioning the joints in the spine.
  • Myofascial pain affecting the connective tissue of muscles


  • Take plenty of rest for fast healing of the condition. Take leisurely walks to stimulate flow of blood in the area.
  • Take prescribed over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to lessen swelling and pain.
  • Maintain good posture at work and at home. Avoid slouching or prolonged leaning on one side of the body. Avoid sleeping in mattresses that are too soft and using thick pillows to prevent upper back pain. Do not sleep on the stomach to avoid accidentally twisting the head and neck and worsen the condition.
  • Apply ice on the upper back for at least 20 minutes every two to three hours for several days to lessen pain and swelling. Avoid placing ice directly on the skin to prevent frostbite and worsen the condition. Wrap ice in a towel or cloth before applying to the affected area.
  • Compress ice against the back using a wrap-around elastic support to lessen inflammation. Avoid wrapping it too tight to prevent stoping of blood circulation in the area.
  • Take an Epsom salt bath to lessen swelling, pain especially caused by muscle strain. The magnesium present in Epsom salts relaxes the muscles. In a bathtub filled with warm water, mix it with 1 to 2 cups of epsom salt mix them well until salt is totally dissolved. Soak in the solution for at least 30 minutes. Avoid soaking for more than 30 minutes to prevent dehydration.
  • Perform regular exercises that strengthen and stretch the muscles of the back, shoulders and stomach. This improves posture; lessen the chance of injury and pain.
  • Avoid being stressed by performing deep breathing and relaxation exercises or meditations.


  • Avoid carrying bags such as single-strap bag or purses that cause an uneven weight across the shoulder. Use bags with wheels or a two-shoulder backpack with padded straps.
  • When standing, stand with weight equally distributed on both feet and do not lock the knees. Tighten the muscles of the stomach and buttocks to maintain a straight back.
  • Wear flat or supportive shoes when standing for long periods of time.
  • Quit smoking

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • All content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.

The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
If you need medical advice or help with a diagnosis contact a medical professional