Upper back pain types

Upper back pain often has a variety of symptoms and causes, though the symptom that typically receives the most attention is local back soreness.

Pain that radiates along a nerve to other parts of the torso can also be traced to causes in the upper back. While these symptoms may present themselves differently, they share a common cause — nerve compression.

The role of spinal nerves

The brain sends and receives sensory and motor signals throughout the body by way of the spinal cord and an infrastructure of nerves and neurons. To facilitate this flow of information, nerves branch from the spinal cord in the spinal canal, travel through canals between the vertebrae and then travel into the body.

If these nerves become irritated or compressed, a signal is sent to the brain, and pain or other symptoms may follow. The types of upper back pain depend on the specific compressed nerve.

For example, compression of the ulnar nerve root (located in the cervical spine) can lead to pain that radiates from the spine through the shoulders, down the arms, across the elbows and into the small and ring fingertips.

Upper back pain symptoms

Some of the most common upper back pain symptoms of this nerve compression include:

  • Pain, stiffness and soreness in the back at the site of the compression
  • Traveling pain that radiates into the shoulders, ribs, arms, hands, muscles and anywhere else in the upper body
  • Unexpected muscle weakness in the shoulders or elbows
  • Numbness or a tingling sensation in the hands and fingers
  • Loss of motor function or reflex

Upper back pain treatment

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, the first step toward relief is to visit your physician. Due to the varying causes of upper back pain, it’s important to receive a proper diagnosis in order to determine your best plan of care.

Your upper back pain may be sufficiently managed with nonsurgical treatments, such as pain medication, physical therapy or extended rest, among others. If your pain persists after several months of nonsurgical treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our minimally invasive spine surgery.

Our minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures are often the clinically appropriate first choice over traditional open neck and back surgery, and offer many advantages, such as a lower risk of complication and a shorter recovery time.^

Contact Laser Spine Institute today for a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.