Upper back pain symptoms

Upper back pain symptoms are generally caused by muscle strain or ligament sprain in the cervical (neck) or thoracic (middle back) regions of the spine. Symptoms are usually the result of repetitive movements or poor posture.

This pain can generally be managed with over-the-counter pain medication and rarely lasts longer than a few months, but sometimes the pain and symptoms indicate a more serious spine condition.

When pain becomes chronic

If upper back pain symptoms persist for longer than three months, the pain is considered chronic. If your pain becomes chronic, we recommend visiting your physician for an accurate diagnosis, as there are many possibilities of what could be causing the pain.

When chronic pain occurs, it’s likely that an anatomical abnormality of the spine itself may be the cause. Degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis, bone spurs, herniated/bulging disc and spinal stenosis may cause chronic neck or upper back pain. These conditions are more likely to develop as we age, because our spinal discs weaken over time, making them more susceptible to damage.

Types of symptoms

Your physician will likely begin the diagnosis by gathering your medical history and performing a physical examination. Be sure to describe your symptoms as accurately as possible to help your doctor diagnose your condition.

The following symptoms are typically associated with degenerative spinal conditions:

  • Radiating pain — This is also known as traveling or referred pain because it originates at the site of the nerve compression and moves down the nerve pathway into other parts of the body, such as the arms or chest.
  • Localized pain — This term refers to pain that has developed at the site of the pinched nerve.
  • Tingling — A tingling sensation is also known as paresthesia — it’s similar to the uncomfortable sensation you feel when you strike your funny bone.
  • Numbness — Numbness refers to a partial or complete loss of sensation.
  • Muscle weakness — This symptom may manifest itself in a diminished ability to grip or lift objects.

Treatments for upper back pain

While these symptoms may be managed using conservative treatment, such as pain medication and physical therapy, surgery may become necessary if your pain becomes chronic after several weeks or months.

When upper back pain symptoms are disrupting your quality of life, Laser Spine Institute offers a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery with our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures.^

Our minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures treat a wide range of spine conditions that can cause upper back pain and have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief.

Are you wondering if you’re a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures? Contact us today for a no-cost MRI review* and to learn more about our minimally invasive spine surgery.