Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

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 heed, it can spread or worsen the situation.

There are various causes of upper back and neck pain including poor posture, prolonged sitting in a chair, improper lifting of a heavy item, sports injury, smoking and obesity. Nowadays, poor posture 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. The severity of upper back pain is greater in smokers and obese people.

How To Prevent And Relieve Upper Back Pain?

The best way to prevent upper back pain is to avoid activities that might aggravate pain including poor 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. 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.

How Should I Sleep With Upper Back Pain?

Not only good posture is required during the day, but also good sleep hygiene is necessary for neck and upper back pain alleviation. Back pain can cause trouble sleeping and certain sleep postures can aggravate back pain. The worst sleeping position is sleeping on one’s stomach, which can flatten the natural spinal curve thus causing strain to the back muscles as well as strain to neck and shoulders as the neck is rotated while sleeping on the stomach. If one is a habitual stomach sleeper then one must place a pillow in the lower abdomen and pelvis area. The best sleeping position with neck and upper back pain is to lie flat on back with slight elevation of neck and shoulders by using pillows placed under the shoulder and neck area and one can also place pillow under the knees to maintain the natural curve of the spine. If one is a side sleeper then they can curl up their legs slightly towards the chest and sleep with a pillow between the knees, which will help maintain the curve of the spine. It is also necessary to sleep on the right mattress, which is neither too soft nor too firm.

If the neck and upper back pain persists for over a month then it is advisable to visit a doctor for further evaluation.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: June 18, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We'll help you live each day to the healthiest