Upper back pain causes cover a wide range of ailments from a simple muscle strain to a deadly heart condition such as a dissecting aortic aneurysm. The usual suspects in upper back pain tend to relate the spinal column. The spinal column of the upper back consists of twelve bones known as the thoracic vertebra. These bones are surrounded by nerves, connective, tissue and muscles. Misalignment of the vertebra or the stress and strain of the muscle surrounding them are the most common causes. While the lower back a neck are responsible for movement, the thoracic spine remains stable with little movement. The role of this portion of the spinal column is to keep the body upright and to protect the vital organs. Pain in this area can actually be a referred pain that originates from a vital organ. Therefore, diagnosing the reason for upper back pain can be much more difficult than in the other areas of the back. Furthermore, the severity and quality of pain in the upper back can vary greatly.
Unlike lower back or neck pain, upper back pain can be a sign or symptom of a condition or disease that is completely unrelated to the spinal column itself. However, many of the same afflictions such as a herniated disc can occur in the same way that it does in the neck or lower back. The most common causes today are related to the fact that so many people spend hours hunched over a computer keyboard. This type of injury occurs over time and is usually muscular in nature. Resolution of these common injuries lies primarily in the learning of better posture. Muscular strains causing upper back or neck pain usually subsides within six weeks of onset. Anti-inflammatory medications that are often found over the counter can assist in pain relief caused by upper back pain.
Heart attacks are often an upper back pain cause. In many of these cases the pain radiates from deep within the chest wall toward the upper back. A dissecting aortic aneurysm elicits a severe tearing type of pain toward the region of the upper back. This is caused by the progressive weakening of the walls of the aorta, which is the largest artery originating from the top of the heart. The weakened wall of this large artery essentially balloons out as it descends toward the abdomen. If not properly diagnosed, an aortic aneurysm usually results in death if it ruptures.
Osteoarthritis, scoliosis, osteoporosis and diseases such as muscular sclerosis (MS) are all upper back pain causes. These are conditions that result in the eventual degeneration of the vertebra. Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine often found in children. Treatments for scoliosis may include a surgical procedure that fuses the entire thoracic vertebra together. Currently, there is no cure for osteoarthritis, osteoporosis or muscular sclerosis.
Upper back pain causes are not all that common due to the limited movement of that portion of the spine. Therefore, careful attention must be paid to pain originating from the upper back. Referred pains from the vital organs often mimic certain types of pain that may seem less than serious.