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Upper Back Pain: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Upper Back Pain: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Upper back pain is a common problem that affects people of all ages. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor posture, muscle strains, and arthritis. 

Are you currently suffering from upper back pain? 

In this article, we’ll talk about the causes of upper back pain, its symptoms, available treatments, and how to prevent them in the future. We’ll also be talking about how  kinesiology tape in providing support in the area and how it can help alleviate discomfort. 

Table of Contents 

  • What causes upper back pain? 
  • What are the common symptoms of upper back pain?
  • How do you diagnose upper back pain?
  • Who is prone to upper back pain?
  • How do you treat or relieve upper back pain?
  • How do you apply kinesiology taping for upper back pain?
  • Tape Geeks: The One-Stop-Shop for Your Kinesiology Taping Needs!
  • How do you prevent upper back pain?
  • Conclusion

What causes upper back pain?

causes upper back pain

Some of the most common causes of upper back pain include: 

  • Overuse. When you put more pressure on the back than what it is used to, it may cause inflammation and strain in the muscles and ligaments in the upper back.
  • Bad posture. Having poor posture due to a sedentary lifestyle or having the habit of sitting with a poor posture for long periods can change the structures of the back and neck. This causes the neck and the spine to weaken. In turn. it will be unable to hold the head in a neutral position as easily. As an example, working in front of a computer for long periods with improper posture leads to having the head and shoulders hunched forward. Being in this position places more pressure on the spine that may eventually lead to pain.
  • Improper lifting technique.When lifting, it’s crucial to have the spine aligned. Otherwise, it may place excessive pressure on the upper back. Remember to keep the heavy object you’re lifting above the head to be centered. Otherwise, if it’s leaning more to the left or the right, it may leave you more susceptible to injury.
  • Pinched nerve. Often a result of repetitive motion, a pinched nerve happens when there is pressure or compression on the nerve near the upper back. 
  • Trauma from an accident. Experiencing a fall from a significant height, a car crash, or having a sports injury may all contribute to experiencing upper back pain. These types of events can all cause injuries that affect the spine’s bones, muscles, nerves, ligaments, and other soft tissues. 

        What are the common symptoms of upper back pain?

        common symptoms of upper back pain

        • Sharp pain. Rather than the pain felt through the entire upper back area, it’s described to be a knife-like pain situated in one spot.
        • Stiffness. As the pain becomes worse, it can result in limited mobility in the upper back muscles, ligaments, and joints. This, in turn, may affect arm movements, making them challenging to do. This could include lifting and rotating your arms.

        How do you diagnose upper back pain?

        • X-ray. An x-ray will produce an image of the bones to show spinal degeneration, fractures, and tumors.
        • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). An MRI machine will show a cross-section image of soft tissues and bones. MRI is useful for detecting compression on the nerves. The machine is also great for detecting infections, tumors, or ligament damage.
        • Bone Mineral Density Exam. This exam uses an x-ray to measure your bone density. 

        Who is prone to upper back pain?

        Who is prone to upper back pain

        Some of the factors that increase your risk for back pain include: 

        • Age. People in their 30s or 40s are more susceptible to developing back pain.
        • Weight. Having excess weight puts more pressure and strain on the back leading to back pain.
        • Smoking. Being a smoker makes you more at risk to smoker’s cough - a condition that can strain your back. Smoking also slows down healing, making your back pain last much longer. 

        How do you treat or relieve upper back pain?

        Treatment options vary depending on the cause of the upper back  pain but may include: 

        • Over-the-counter-pain (OTC) medication. Taking OTC medication may help with reducing pain and inflammation. Some of the drugs that you may take are aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen. 
        • Apply ice and/or heat. Applying ice may help in reducing inflammation and swelling. After 48 hours, applying heat is also recommended. When applying ice or heat, you should limit it to 15-20 minutes at a time to avoid damaging your tissues.
        • Kinesiology tape. The kinesiology tape lifts the skin and increases blood flow and circulation in the area. The tape also helps reduce pressure off the area while giving support. 
        • Physical therapy. A physical therapist or other qualified medical professionals may design a physical therapy program for you depending on your case. These treatments may involve strengthening and stretching exercises that focus on your upper back muscles. 
        • Surgery. While rare, some severe upper back pain cases may require surgery to treat. 

        How do you apply kinesiology taping for upper back pain? 

        Before your upper back pain application, here are some  tips on how to prepare beforehand. And, since you’ll be  applying different kinesiology tape tensions, learn more about it here. 

        *In applying this protocol, we recommend having a partner to help you as it is a hard-to-reach area. 

        Here’s how you can apply kinesiology tape on the upper back pain to help with discomfort brought about by muscle strain:

        1. Prepare two strips of kinesiology tape. 
        2. Start in a normal posture. Next, roll your shoulders forward to stretch the muscles in the area. 
        3. Have your partner get the first strip and anchor it on top of the scapula. Give the middle of the tape 100% tension and apply it towards the top of the neck. 
        4. With the second strip, anchor it on the same spot as the first strip. Give the middle of the 100% tension and apply it down towards the spine. 
        5. Rub the tape to activate the adhesive. 

        Tape Geeks: The One-Stop-Shop for Your Kinesiology Taping Needs! 

        When addressing your upper back pain, you should also consider the quality of the kinesiology tape you’re using. Taping shouldn’t just be about muscle and joint support, but should also be friendly to your skin - this is what Tape Geeks is all about! 

        Enjoy a great stick without making your skin sick with Tape Geeks kinesiology tape! TG tapes are hypoallergenic, zinc-free, and latex-free. What’s more, they’re manufactured in an ISO-certified and dermatologist-approved factory in South Korea which are known for their consistent and reliable adhesives.

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        Support, compression, and stability - the  Tape Geeks’ Power Wrap has you covered! With this stretchy and hand-tearable bandage, never be bothered by adhesives, pins, and scissors for prep again. 

        Tape Geeks 5 cm (2”) x 5m Premium Kinesiology Tape 

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        With two rolls of kin tape and a pair of razor-sharp scissors, always have muscle and joint support at arm’s reach. 

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        How do you prevent upper back pain?

        Here are some things that you can do to avoid upper back pain: 

        • Practice good posture. Maintaining good posture whether you’re sitting, standing, or walking around reduces your risk of back pain. Doing so keeps your spine neutral and prevents undue pressure on the area. 
        • Work on your form when lifting weights.Maintaining proper form when lifting weights protects your upper back muscles from 
        • Do posture exercises. Here are some posture exercises that you can do that may help with back pain: 

        Chin tuck

        1. The chin tuck can be done in a sitting or standing position. When sitting, have your feet placed flat on the floor.  
        2. Pull your neck towards your neck and hold the position for about 5 seconds before relaxing.
        3. Repeat this three times. 

        Goalpost squeeze

        1. While in a seated position, lift your arms and bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle, similar to a goalpost. 
        2. Next, pull your elbows toward the back of the room and then, release. 
        3. Repeat this move ten times. 

        Shoulder blade squeeze

        1. Place your hands on your thighs while keeping your shoulders down.  
        2. Next, squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold the position and count to five before relaxing again. 
        3. Repeat this move three times. 


        Upper back pain is a common ailment that can be caused by many things, including injury, poor posture, and stress.

         If you are experiencing upper back pain, it’s important to seek medical attention to find the root of the problem and get appropriate treatment. There are many treatments available for upper back pain, ranging from medication to physical therapy to kinesiology tape. 

        Kinesiology tape is a popular treatment option because it provides support and relief in the area. If you are suffering from upper back pain, consider trying kinesiology tape as part of your treatment plan. 

        You can read more about different aches and pains like  neck pain and  abdominal strain in the  Tape Geeks blog.

        Thanks for reading!

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