man with upper back pain

What causes upper back pain?

causes back pain

What does upper back pain feel like?

Upper back pain can refer to pain between your shoulder blades or anywhere in the region between your neck and waist.

As well as pain, you may experience tightness, stiffness, tenderness or even headache.

Upper back pain causes

Upper back pain is often linked to injury of one of the muscles of the upper back:

  • The trapezius near your shoulder blade, which helps you stand up straight and throw things
  • The latissimus dorsi, which is located lower down on your back and helps with breathing and arm movement
  • The rhomboid muscles — these are adjacent to the trapezius and support your shoulders

It can also appear after injury to the soft tissue.

The kind of activities that can lead to upper back pain include:

  • Poor posture — this includes constantly looking down at your cell phone. Upper back pain causes after sleeping and sitting at a desk for prolonged periods can also be attributed to poor posture
  • Whiplash and other neck injuries
  • Lifting objects that are too heavy for you or by using poor technique
  • Repetitive movements
  • Contact sports
  • Wearing a backpack or other load that’s too heavy for you

Severe upper back pain causes

Some people experience severe upper back pain due to other medical conditions. These include:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fracture of a vertebra
  • Slipped disc
  • Spinal stenosis — where the space inside the spine narrows and puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves
  • Ankylosing spondylitis — a type of arthritis that affects the joints in your spine

Treatment for upper back pain

One of the most effective ways to treat upper back pain is through osteopathic practice.

Here at Osteo Health, we use a variety of techniques to trigger your body’s healing processes and relieve pain, including:

  • Osteopathic adjustments — hands-on techniques include stretching and applying gentle pressure to release tension
  • Shockwave therapy — an acoustic wave penetrates tissue and stimulates collagen and new blood vessel production while reducing inflammation
  • Laser therapy — different wavelengths are applied to the upper body to relieve pain and reduce inflammation
  • Ultrasound therapy — ultrasound is used to stimulate cells and trigger the body’s own healing response
  • Electrotherapy — a safe and therapeutical electric current is used to soothe inflammation and reduce pain

We can help with your upper back pain

Don’t worry — there is help out there for upper back pain. You can find out more by reaching out to the experts here at Osteo Health.

Call us at 403-814-0404 or book an appointment with us online at for a gentle solution to TMJD.


Check out our videos on TMJD!

Approved by Indira Ravaeva. Manual Osteopath. Member of National Manual Osteopathic Society and Osteopathy Australia.


‘Upper Back Pain Causes, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment,’ Spine Universe, 4 May 2021

‘What are the most likely causes of upper back pain?’ Medical News Today, 30 June 2022

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