Upper Back PainUpper back pain affects a large number of Americans, but can often be treated successfully. In order to maximize your odds of getting good results from treatment, it helps to know a bit about the potential causes first.

Causes of upper back pain

When possible, fixing the root cause of back pain is preferred over simply masking it with medication or other treatments. Additionally, knowing the cause allows you and your doctor to strategically choose the treatments most likely to be effective. Here are some possibilities to consider:

  1. Not keeping in good shape can increase your odds of back pain. If you’re not fit or are overweight, ask your doctor about safe ways of getting in shape.
  1. Work can also be a major factor. This might be because your job is very physical and puts a strain on your back. Or, a lack of activity like sitting at a desk all day might be causing issues that are compounded by poor posture or bad positioning of your chair relative to your desk or computer monitor.
  1. Other causes include conditions that may or may not be curable, including infections, scoliosis, arthritis, and damaged discs. If your discomfort results from a condition that can’t be cured, knowing the cause is still beneficial because that will provide clues as to which treatments are most likely to be effective in reducing or eliminating your pain.

How to treat it

Which treatment you use will vary depending on your situation, but here are some common options that can be discussed with your health care provider:

Applying heat and/or cold

Heat can stimulate circulation and reduce muscle spasms. Cold, on the other hand, can do a great job of numbing discomfort and also reducing inflammation.


Whether or not it’s a lack of fitness causing your problem, there are often specific exercises that can be prescribed to strengthen weak areas to alleviate pain and prevent it from coming back.

Manipulation or massage

Skilled practitioners can provide significant relief of certain types of back pain by adjusting the spine, and/or massaging affected tissues.


Acupuncture can be helpful for many types of pain, and for most people comes with little risk compared to alternatives. It’s often used to add to the effects of other treatments. If you don’t like the idea of needles being used, ask about acupressure.


Many people hesitate to take medication for back pain, but, depending on your situation, they may play an important role in helping you to feel more comfortable and enjoy an improved quality of life.


This is best reserved for cases that can’t be relieved through other less invasive methods.

Modern treatments for upper back pain can be very effective

It’s well worth seeking out the available options for decreasing or eliminating your pain. Modern treatments can be very effective, and relief could be just around the corner!