Upper, middle, or lower back pain is one of the most common conditions that people visit the doctor for. Upper and middle refers to the region from the base of the neck to the base of rib cage at the back. The bones in this region work in association with the rib cage and protect internal organs while keeping the back stable. Pain in this region is not as common as lower back pain.
Upper and middle back pain is often felt in the form of a sharp, shooting pain or as a stiffness that spreads at the back. Pain may be acute, sub acute, or chronic as in the case of lower back pain. Some of the most common causes of upper and middle back pain include:
- Muscle strain – This may be due to injury or over use of the muscles and ligaments that support the back and hold the spine together.
- Improper posture – This is one of the most common causes of pain in the region.
- Affected nerves – When nerves are pressed due to problems like a herniated disc, it results in a sharp, burning pain.
- Fracture of vertebrae – The upper and middle back region has 12 vertebrae attached to the rib cage. A fracture in one of them would cause a shooting pain at the back.
- Osteoarthritis –The small facets of the vertebrae that join the spine are efficiently cushioned by cartilage. As the cartilage breaks down in osteoarthritis, it results in a sharp pain at the upper back.
- Connective tissue issues – Problems with the muscles or a group of muscles at the back may result in myofascial pain.
Some of the rare causes for pain in the region include gall bladder disease, infection and cancer. Warning signs of this pain that requires immediate medical attention includes back pain associated with:
- Leg weakness
- Numbness and tingling in legs or chest
- Loss of bladder control
Simple home remedies may be of help in the case of mild pain. Over the counter pain medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be helpful in reducing pain. Heat and ice compress also might be helpful in alleviating pain. Physical therapy and exercise will help in improving the flexibility and mobility. If the pain is increasing and starts affecting day to day activities of the person, it is time to get a prescription medication.