Can Sitting Cause Upper Back Pain?

Back pain is the leading cause of muscle tightness and strain and every other person suffers from back pain. Upper back and neck pain is a worrisome situation since it prevents a person from going about their daily chores. The discomfort is present while standing, moving, sitting as well as other body movements. The pain limits movement and if not paid attention, it can either spread or worsen.

Can Sitting Cause Upper Back Pain?

Can Sitting Cause Upper Back Pain?

There are various causes of upper back and neck pain including poor posture, improper lifting of a heavy item, sports injury, obesity and prolonged sitting. Although, sitting does not cause upper back pain, but yes sitting for long hours repeatedly can cause upper back pain whether it is sitting on a chair, couch or while driving. Now a days, poor posture while sitting is the main cause of neck and upper back pain as most of us crane our necks over the computer screens, phones, or TV screens all day, which misalign our spines, thus causing upper back pain. Poor sitting posture includes slouching in a chair or sofa that puts extra strain on ligaments and muscles of the back leading to them being overstretched.

Why Prolonged Sitting Causes Upper Back Pain?

Prolonged sitting is often accompanied by poor posture such as slouching and head craned forward. This leads to upper back muscle strain when the head is craned forward or when one is in a slouched position. Strained upper back muscles can lead to pain in the neck, shoulder, and head and face region, migraine headaches, knots in the back and other complications.

Preventing and Relieving Upper Back Pain

The best way to prevent upper back pain is to avoid activities that might aggravate pain including poor sitting posture, slouching in the couch and craning over the phones. It is advisable to maintain a good posture and walk upright without slouching or hunching and to avoid prolonged sitting in one posture. It is best to walk for sometime regularly and avoid prolonged sitting. It requires conscious effort to avoid forward drifting of the head and the head should always be aligned with the back and the body. A simple tip is to place a cushion in the form of a folded towel behind the waist while sitting to avoid slouching. Slouching can also be avoided by lifting the breastbone that also helps regain the curve behind the waist.

Upper back pain can also be relieved with over the counter pain medications such as Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (ibuprofen, naproxen). Along with pain medications, one can also try cold or warm compresses to relieve pain. Cold compresses should be tried within 72 hours of injury followed by warm compresses or alternate warm and cold compresses after 72 hours of injury.

The discomfort of neck and upper back pain can also be relieved by stretching the muscles of neck and upper back. Head tilts can be performed to relieve neck pain.

Stretching the neck on both the sides and holding it there for one deep breath and repeating it 10 times on each side will help alleviate neck strain. Upper back pain can also be alleviated with I-Pose. It is done by either sitting or standing with back erect and hands on sides. The arms are lifted slowly, palms facing each other, above the head and kept there for at least three deep breaths and then arms are brought back to the sides. This is repeated at least 10 times. Another stretch is W-Pose for upper back pain alleviation. This can also be done while sitting or standing. The arms are kept on the sides and then extended in front of the chest after, which the elbows are pulled backwards next to the rib cage. This position is maintained for 30 seconds and repeated at least 10 to 15 times.

Exercises and lower backstretches can also be done to strengthen the back muscles in order to avoid slouching and to get a strong back.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 16, 2019

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