Upper Back Pain

Upper back pain is less common than lower back pain and neck pain; however, it can be just as debilitating. Chronic upper back pain can make everyday tasks difficult. Doctors often refer to upper back pain as thoracic spine pain or TSP. There are a number of common causes for this type of pain.

Upper Back Pain

Muscle Deconditioning Through Poor Posture

You likely know that through exercise, you can condition your muscles over time. Doing the opposite is possible. If you often slouch while sitting, your muscles can decondition. Over time, this weakness in your muscles can result in painful strains.

Overuse of the Muscles

If you overuse any muscle in your body, it can cause irritation, tightness, and muscle strain. Repetitive actions that cause you to overuse your upper back muscles can cause upper back pain. If you spend your day at work lifting heavy objects, you can experience pain. If you ignore the pain, it can become chronic.

Traumatic Injury

Traumatic injuries to the muscles or bones in the upper back can result in pain. A few examples of a traumatic injury include:

    • Car accident
    • A slip and fall accident
    • Lifting heavy objects incorrectly
    • Work-related accidents
    • Pushing yourself too hard while working out

In some cases, you will feel the pain immediately after the accident. In others, it can take time for the pain from the injury to become apparent.

Herniated Disc

While herniated discs are more common in the lower back, it is possible to experience this condition in the upper back. Between each of the vertebra in your back, there are soft, rubbery cushions. A herniated disc occurs if one of the cushions pokes through and puts pressure on the spine. Even the slightest amount of pressure can cause pain in the upper back. A herniated disc in the upper back can also cause weakness and numbness in the arms or legs.

Pinched Nerve

If you have a herniated disc and it slips far enough out that it compresses a nerve, it is called a pinched nerve. If the nerve is located in the middle of the back, it can result in pain in that area.


As you get older, the cartilage that cushions your bones can wear down. When this happens, it can wear down so much that the bones will rub together causing serious pain. This condition is called osteoarthritis.

If you are suffering from upper back pain, you should schedule an appointment with The Wellness Center PDX in Portland. Our chiropractor will perform a complete exam and use diagnostic tests such as x-ray, MRI, or CT scan to determine the source of your pain. When this has been determined, we can create a treatment plan to treat your condition and help relieve your pain.

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1359 NE 35th Ave Portland OR 97232
Phone: (503) 389-5545
Fax: (888) 847-1238

11750 SW Barnes Rd #240 Portland OR 97225
Phone: (503) 389-6962
Fax: (888) 847-1238

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Reviews From our Satisfied Patients

  • "I had a really attentive chiropractor who made sure that I was comfortable and heard about all of the offered services that would help me with my back problems. I came away feeling confident that the doc would help any way they can, and that's always cool. Definitely recommend."
    James Wells
  • "I was very impressed with the whole crew at Wellness Center PDX! Professional and compassionate, from the front desk to the clinicians. They talked me through procedures to ensure that I understood what was happening and what they needed to accomplish. Some temporary facilities issues (the A/C was scheduled for repairs, as it had not been operated since the previous autumn, and had been found to be out of repair) marred the visit, but staff had worked to mitigate the impact. Definitely worth a second visit. I'm glad I went."
    Brian Hester
  • "Everyone here is so nice! From Catina and Patricia at the front to Dr Gabriel, Nicole, and Daniel, everyone is so amazing! They are dedicated and patient with their explanations and treatments. Love my visits"
    Traci Davenport