Symptoms of Upper Back Pain

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Upper Back PainMany cases of upper back pain are caused by muscle or soft tissue problems, such as sprain, strain, or tension. Many symptoms, then, relate to the muscles:

  • stiffness
  • spasm
  • pain
  • tightness
  • tenderness when the injured area is touched

Sometimes, you can also feel upper back pain when you take a deep breath because the vertebrae (the spinal bones) in your thoracic spine are connected to the ribs. Sneezing or coughing may also be painful.

With upper back pain (or mid-back pain), you may also have pain in your shoulders and neck (cervical spine). That's because all your muscles are connected, so if it's a muscle problem causing your upper back pain, the other muscles in your shoulders and neck can be affected.

Updated on: 09/01/15
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Causes of Upper Back Pain
Jason M. Highsmith, MD
This article was reviewed by Jason M. Highsmith, MD.
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Causes of Upper Back Pain

Upper back pain, or mid-back pain, is pain in the thoracic spine, and is most often caused by muscle sprain, strain, or fatigue. Other soft tissue injuries can also cause back pain. There are a couple other common causes of upper back pain: Learn what they are in this overview article.
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