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What’s Causing Your Upper Back Pain?

Upper back pain can be a real nuisance, disrupting your daily activities and overall well-being. This pain can originate from a variety of sources.

One common cause is poor posture. Spending long hours hunched over a computer, or repeatedly looking down at a smartphone, can strain the muscles and ligaments in the upper back, leading to discomfort and pain over time.

Muscle strain or overuse is another frequent culprit. Engaging in activities your body isn't accustomed to, like moving heavy furniture or gardening, can result in strained muscles or ligaments in the upper back.

Aging also plays a role. As we grow older, the discs between our vertebrae gradually wear down, a condition known as degenerative disc disease. This can cause pain and stiffness in the upper back. Similarly, osteoporosis can lead to fractures in the vertebrae, causing significant upper back pain.

Upper back pain can also be a symptom of specific conditions. Kyphosis, characterized by an excessive outward curve of the spine, can cause pain and discomfort. Other spine conditions, like herniated discs or spinal arthritis, can also result in upper back pain.

Stress and tension are often overlooked factors. When we're stressed, our bodies tend to tense up. Chronic stress can lead to persistent muscle tension in the upper back, resulting in ongoing discomfort.

Sometimes, upper back pain can be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. For instance, it might indicate a problem with an internal organ, like the heart or lungs. Conditions like lung cancer, heart disease, or gallbladder disease can cause referred pain in the upper back.

In any case, if your upper back pain is severe, persists for more than a few weeks, or is accompanied by other symptoms like chest pain or difficulty breathing, it's crucial to seek medical attention. While many causes of upper back pain are manageable, some may require more specific treatments or interventions.

Jennifer Ferdinand, owner of Serendipity Wellness Studio in Burke, VA, has been practicing massage therapy and esthetics since 2006. She is nationally certified through NCBTMB, and licensed in Virginia for both Massage Therapy and Esthetics.

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