What Are the Signs of Upper Back Pain?

While the pain that you can feel in the portion of your back covering your neck to the bottom of your rib cage is the most obvious sign of upper back pain, it can be difficult to diagnose exactly what is happening with your back. What’s interesting about upper back pain is that it can be very acute compared to the dull ache that is commonly felt with lower back pain. Here’s a look at common ways that upper back pain is experienced:

  • A sharp, stabbing pain is the most common symptom of upper back pain. Many people experience knife-like, throbbing pain and burning. The pain is usually centralized in one spot. However, it may web out to other areas.
  • Some people with upper back issues experience general discomfort and strain in the area instead of pain.
  • Pain can actually travel from a nerve in the upper back to other parts of the body to create sharp, radiating “stabs.” These pains typically reach the arms, chest, stomach and sides. While some people feel dull trickles of pain, others actually feel sharp “shocks” in the impacted areas. Typically, radiating pain will happen on whatever side of the body the back pain is originating from.
  • Upper back pain can manifest as sensations of tingling, pins-and-needles feelings, numbness and weakness. Typically, the “tingling” sensations run from nerves in the thoracic spine to other parts of the body.
  • Some people with upper back injuries actually feel stiffness instead of acute pain. In some cases, the stiffness only manifests after a person has experienced sharp pains and soreness for a prolonged period. The stiffness often reduces mobility and range of motion by making movements rigid and strained.

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