Upper back ache causes


Why Does My Back Hurt in the Morning?

If you do wake up in the morning with back pain, don’t despair — the following exercises and tips can help get you going while alleviating discomfort throughout the day.

Stretches in bed

One way to beat back pain is to make a habit of stretching right before you get out of bed. While lying on your back, reach your arms up above your head as far as you can. At the same time, reach your feet out in the opposite direction.

Then, bring your knees into your chest and hold for a lower back stretch. It may also feel good to gently rock from side to side.

Once you sit up, plant your feet on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Reach your arms up over your head again, then side to side for an allover stretch.


A plank works almost your entire body, particularly your core muscles. As your abdominals get stronger, you’ll put less strain on your back. Doing a plank can also alleviate minor back pain, especially in the lower back.

To do a plank, start facedown on the floor. Curl your toes and keep your forearms and elbows in line with your wrists. As you lift off the floor, push yourself into your upper back and keep your chin close to your neck.

Hold your plank for up to 30 seconds, crunching your abs tight as if you’re bracing for a punch in the stomach. You should also contract your glutes and thighs. Lower and repeat if desired.


You might remember the cobra stretch from yoga class. The mini-cobra uses the same basic movements but without overstretching your lower back.

To do a mini-cobra, lie on your stomach with palms facing down lined up with the sides of your head. Your elbows and forearms should also extend in straight lines to your palms. Slowly push your palms and forearms into the floor, lifting your chest up.

Keep your head looking forward and your neck straight. Hold the stretch for up to 10 seconds at a time, repeating up to 5 times total.

Knee bends

You may find back relief, especially in the lower back, by stretching your knees and glutes. One way to do this is through an exercise called knee bends.

To perform a knee bend, squat down as if you’re trying to sit back into a chair. Keep your knees bent at 90-degree angles and make sure they don’t track past your toes. Exhale on your way down, then inhale as you come back to standing. Repeat up to 10 times.

Get exercise throughout the day

Regular exercise throughout the day is key to alleviating back pain. Walking is among the best exercises, and you should aim for at least 10,000 steps per day. However, anything that gets you moving and off your feet can help keep your back strong.

Also, if you have an office job that involves sitting, it’s important to take frequent breaks. Stand up at least once every 30 minutes and stretch. Standing desks can also help keep the pressure off your back during the day at work so you won’t suffer the consequences the next morning.

OTC medications

Severe back pain sometimes calls for immediate relief. Ask your doctor if you can take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen. These are pain relievers that also reduce inflammation that may be contributing to your discomfort. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be another option for occasional back pain if you can’t take NSAIDs.

Another OTC option is a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machine. Clinical reviews show that TENS can be effective for severe chronic musculoskeletal pain, but tolerance to the electrical currents may need to be built up over time. Ask your doctor if a TENS machine may be appropriate for your back pain.

Topical remedies

You can also try topical remedies. Turmeric and peppermint essential oils can help. Just make sure you dilute these in carrier oils, such as those made from jojoba or olive, or else they can irritate your skin.

Waking Up with Back Pain?

Q: Every morning, I wake up with severe pain and stiffness in my back and neck. The pain generally wears off as the day wears on, but it’s very bothersome at the start of the day. Could I be sleeping incorrectly? How can I make sure that I sleep right to prevent neck and back pain?

Sleeping can be an uncomfortable situation for some people, and it can be a cause of back and neck pain. Photo Source: 123RF.com.We spend approximately one third of each day sleeping, as it is an essential part of life. If we’re going to spend a third of the day sleeping, it should be a time to relax painlessly and prepare for a new day.

Sadly, sleeping can be an uncomfortable situation for some people, and it can be a cause of and neck pain. Thankfully, there are several steps you can take to ensure you are sleeping correctly to prevent neck and back pain.

Tip #1: How You Sleep Is Important

First, make sure you’re sleeping in a position that is conducive to maintaining the natural curves of your spine. Specifically, do not sleep on your stomach. Stomach sleeping can cause neck pain and headaches upon waking, and places your spine in an unnatural position.

Try to sleep on either your side or back. If you’re a side sleeper, place a pillow between your knees. If you sleep on your back, it may help to place a pillow underneath your knees. Placing the pillow between and underneath your knees gives your spine the best chance of maintaining its natural curves while you sleep.

Tip #2: Check Your Bed Set-up

Next, make sure you’re equipped with the proper sleeping supplies. For example, it’s difficult to find a pillow that properly supports your neck. Most feather pillows don’t provide adequate neck support, which can cause neck soreness even if you are sleeping in the recommended side and back positions.

If you find yourself awaking with neck pain or headaches despite sleeping on your back or side, it is likely that you need a cervical pillow. A cervical pillow is specifically designed to support the natural curves of your neck while you sleep and places your neck in its desired, natural position. Cervical pillows are designed for side and back sleepers, but make it difficult to sleep on your stomach, which is an added perk to using it.

It is also important to make sure you’re using the correct mattress. There is a link between the type of mattress people use and associated back pain. People who use a medium-firm mattress have less back pain compared to people who use mattresses classified as too firm or too soft.

In addition, research indicates that you should purchase a new mattress every 10 years if you want to ensure your mattress isn’t the cause of your back pain. Mattresses that are 10 years old and beyond are shown to be a possible cause of back pain while you sleep.

Tip #3: The Right Way to Get Out of Bed

Lastly, make sure you are getting out bed properly. Unfortunately, the majority of people will sit up, twist their back to prepare to get into a standing position, and use their back to stand. This method is incorrect.

The proper way to exit a bed upon waking is to roll onto your side and use your arm to push up from the side-lying position. From this position, scoot to the very edge of the bed and get up using your legs, not your back.

Sleeping shouldn’t be painful. It should be a time to relax. Implementing these aforementioned suggestions is a great way to decrease pain while you sleep and increase your odds of having a great night’s rest.

Upper Back Pain After Sleeping

If you are suffering from upper back pain after sleeping, it’s essential to find the right treatment for your condition. The constant neck pain and stiffness can rob you of a good night’s sleep. However, your resting position can also dictate the severity of your neck pain from sleeping. Also, if you can’t get any sleep because of daytime pain and stress, it can result in pain at night. This article is intended to help stop the vicious cycle of upper back pain after sleeping a few hours and how to get your much-needed sleep back on track.

Common Causes of Back and Neck Pain After Sleeping

Inflammatory Back Pain

Spondyloarthritis is a broad term for inflammatory disease. It typically affects the spine and sometimes the peripheral joints. Joint inflammation comes and goes. It is generally accompanied by fatigue. Diagnosis can sometimes be difficult, but most often done through obtaining a medical history and x-rays.

Muscle Overuse

Repetitive activities and tasks can cause strain to the upper and lower back muscles, leading to muscle overuse. A classic example of this condition is when a pitcher in baseball throws the ball in the same rotating motion, further adding stress and pressure to the neck and shoulders. If your work requires you to do the same movements every day, you may start to feel muscle strain, irritation, or spasms. This could lead to chronic back pain. Treatment for muscle overuse includes full rest, physical therapy, and application of a heating pad on the problem areas to increase blood flow.

Poor Posture

You can indeed strengthen your muscles, joints, and ligaments by weight training, stretching, and exercising. But did you know you can also adversely condition your entire body through poor posture? You can damage your spinal cord, upper and lower back, or rotator cuff tendons by slouching for too long. When you place your spine in an awkward posture for long periods, you put stress and pressure on it that can result in long-term pain and stiffness.

If you want to stop experiencing upper back pain after sleeping, you need to correct your posture. Remember to stretch frequently. Sometimes, you may have to see a physical therapist. You can also take advantage of an adjustable mattress and a memory foam pillow to help you correct or maintain your body’s posture.

Herniated Disc

Discs are the rubber-like cushions nestled between the vertebrae. When tiny bits of the cushion find their way through the vertebrae, they can put pressure on the spine and cause severe pain in the back. The symptoms usually occur in the lower back but can sometimes appear as upper or mid-back pain. With it may come weakness and numbness in the legs, hips, and arms. People suffering from a herniated disc or a pinched nerve often have difficulty finding comfort, as the pain can be excruciating. A trip to the doctor is often necessitated.

Myofascial Pain

Myofascial pain usually originates from an injury or overuse of the hips, spine, or knees. Severe pain can spread throughout the body and contribute to upper back and neck pain after sleeping. The painful soft tissue can be a challenge to treat. Doctors are still looking for explanations as to why myofascial back and neck pain persists. Physical therapy, a memory foam pillow, and an adjustable mattress frame can help treat existing chronic pain. Also, make sure you have a good mattress. Mattresses that are constructed from memory foam, foam, latex, pocket coils, or a hybrid of these, can cushion painful areas allowing you to get the restorative sleep necessary for pain relief.

Traumatic Injury

Accidents that cause sudden trauma to the muscles of the back can lead to acute back pain and compression fractures. These situations that cause these vary – from falling to the incorrect lifting of heavy objects. The symptoms of the injury can appear instantly after the incident or manifest later.

Sometimes the injury is not apparent. It may demonstrate as upper middle back pain after sleeping. If not diagnosed or treated immediately, long-lasting complications may occur. Seeking the help of a medical expert is vital in these circumstances. You can also ask your doctor for a referral to physical therapy clinics and centers.

Solutions to Back Pain After Sleeping

Heat and Cold Compression

Heat and cold compression are two of the best solutions to shoulder back pain from sleeping on the side. According to numerous scientific studies, applying heat and cold packs to your upper back neck pain together with sleeping with the right pillow and mattress can give immediate pain relief and comfort. Ice packs, in particular, are incredibly efficient in treating injuries such as muscle spasms, neck strain, hip pain, or shoulder joint inflammation. That is because the sudden cold can provide a numbing effect to the problem areas.

A heating or warm pad can also loosen up pain and stiffness on the shoulder joints, neck muscles, knees, hips, or legs. It is essential, however, to follow the instructions that come with the heating pad to ensure safe application. A hot water bottle can be used as an alternative.

Application of Pain Relief Cream

There are a wide variety of over-the-counter pain relief medications you can use to treat upper back and neck pain after sleeping. Pain relief creams that contain capsaicin are known to be quite efficient in treating night pain caused by osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, and rotator cuff tendinitis. Creams that contain menthol can also temporarily numb the pain and stiffness caused by sleeping in the wrong sleep position. However, using too much menthol cream may also cause you to be more sensitive to pain at night, so moderate use is advised.

Correct Office Ergonomics

Upper back and neck pain after sleeping are common among people who strain and slouch all day at their desks. Because their spine, hips, legs, and shoulder blades are positioned in a poor sitting posture, they can develop muscle tension and neck pain. Proper ergonomics at the office can help prevent injuries to the cervical spine, spinal canal, neck, and shoulder, as well as, the upper back pain. Adjustable desks that allow you to sit or stand without disrupting your workflow can help relieve muscle and joint pain.


Proper exercise is vital to a person suffering from rotator cuff injuries, muscle spasms, spinal misalignment, and shoulder stress. There are a lot of easy, low-impact exercises that help with these conditions. Brisk walking, swimming, and yoga are some of the activities you can do to treat upper back and neck pain after sleeping. Exercise can also loosen up the joints and muscles. Also, exercising produces feel-good hormones, such as endorphins, which is also our brain’s natural painkiller.

One of the major causes of upper back pain after sleeping is poor posture at night. Undue pressure to the spine, joints, and muscles can cause acute and long-term pain. Poor posture can be caused by sagging mattresses, a poor bed frame, or improper use of pillows.

Use Pillows Effectively

Pillows are one way to help you sleep in a proper sleeping position. By propping your problem areas with a pillow, you can improve your chances of getting a restful night’s sleep. The correct pillow and mattress can also support your spine and prevent you from developing any stiffness or pain at night. The important thing is you reduce the strain around the joints.

Pillow Use for Side Sleepers

For side sleepers, putting a pillow between your knees can lift your one leg and keep your hips and knees in a neutral alignment. This position also helps relax the hip and stomach muscles. Side sleepers can also use a small pillow to fill up the space between the mattress and your waist or neck curve.

Pillow Use for Back Sleepers

Sleeping on the back or supine is the most recommended sleep position to get rid of upper middle back pain after sleeping. It does not only promote good neck and spinal posture at rest, but helps relieve pain related to a muscle strain or injury. These conditions include a stiff neck, rotator cuff tear injuries, adhesive capsulitis, and ankylosing spondylitis. Unfortunately, no matter how healthy this sleeping position is, only 8% of the world’s population sleeps in this pose. Like all the sleeping positions, sleeping on the back can also use a little bit of padded support. In this case, it’s the knees that will benefit a lot from a pillow. When you sleep with knees, spinal cord, and neck muscles extended straight; you also risk creating lower back strain. That is because when you sleep, you are pulling your pelvis out of its neutral alignment and into an arched lower back.

By propping a memory foam or regular small pillow under your knees, your legs will bend in a more natural sleeping posture. This sleeping position can also help get rid of severe shoulder pain and upper-middle back pain after sleeping, as it places your body in a more neutral position. If you feel like this position is too uncomfortable, you can prop your head and neck with a memory foam pillow against the mattress. That can ensure that your body is straight while its natural curve is supported.

Pillow Use for Stomach Sleepers

Stomach sleeping, also known as prone sleeping, is a very problematic sleep posture. Stomach sleepers put too much pressure and unnecessary tension on their rotator cuff tendons, facet joints, stomach, neck, spinal cord, and back muscles. Medical professionals advise patients to avoid it altogether. The sleeping posture also requires the neck to be rotated to one side for breathing purposes, further increasing your risks of getting a stiff neck.

Pillows do not do a good job of support with this position. However, you can try putting a flat pillow under your stomach to increase the length of your lower back curve. This further relaxes the muscles and rotator cuff tendons. You can try propping your head with a pillow to retain your body’s natural alignment during your sleep.

Correct positioning is essential to ease back pain. Although pillows may be effective, they often fall out of place during sleep. The best way to eliminate, or at least curb, upper back pain is to ensure a good night’s sleep. That is best achieved by using an adjustable bed frame that can put the spine in a neutral position that does not strain the vertebrae, muscles, or joints. A good mattress is also essential. It should cushion the body’s joints. The best way to avoid upper back pain after sleeping is by ensuring you get a good restorative sleep every night.

  1. The Efficacy of Thermotherapy and Cryotherapy on Pain Relief in Patients with Acute Low Back Pain, A Clinical Trial Study. Morteza Dehghan; Farinaz Farahbod. (2014, September 20). Retrieved from National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4225921/

Position Yourself for Sound Sleep With Back Pain

Good posture is a key to a healthy spine, but posture isn’t just about sitting or standing straight. Your sleep posture also has a major impact on your back and neck. While some positions help you feel refreshed come morning, others can leave you stiff, sore, and in pain.

When it comes to finding the best sleeping pose for your back and neck, think neutral. Positions that put your spine in a neutral, or straight, alignment put the least amount of stress on your back and neck. Learn which positions put your spine in a neutral state and those that should be avoided below.
While some positions help you feel refreshed come morning, others can leave you stiff, sore, and in pain. Photo Source: LifetimeStock.

The Best Sleep Position for Your Spine: On Your Back

Sleeping on your back is the best for putting your spine in a neutral alignment, but only 8% of people sleep in this pose.

A few strategically placed pillows can boost the benefits of back sleeping. A small pillow underneath your head and neck (but not your shoulders) will help keep your spine straight. Adding a pillow under your knees will provide even more support and comfort, as it encourages your spine to maintain its natural curve.

Though back sleeping is the best for your spine, it has a few drawbacks:

  1. It’s not best for those with sleep apnea. Back sleeping may cause the tongue to block the breathing tube, so those with sleep apnea should not sleep on their backs. Instead, they should sleep on their side with legs straight.
  2. It’s not best for snorers. Back sleeping can worsen snoring. Those who snore should sleep on their side with legs straight.
  3. It’s not best for pregnant women. Pregnant women who sleep on their backs risk developing a myriad of health problems, from back pain to low blood pressure. Plus, the on-the-back position decreases blood circulation to the heart and the baby. The best sleep position during pregnancy is sleeping on the side with legs bent.

The Next Best Option: On Your Side with Legs Straight

For those who snore or have sleep apnea—or if you simply find sleeping on your back uncomfortable—side sleeping with your torso and legs straight is a great alternative. This is the ideal sleeping pose for snorers and people with sleep apnea because it keeps your airways open. Adding a small pillow between your legs will also help keep your spine neutral.

In Third Place: On Your Side with Legs Bent Upwards

Sleeping on your side with your legs bent upwards—also known as the fetal position—is the most common sleep pose (41% of adults sleep this way). Though it’s a popular option, this posture prevents your neck and upper back from reaching a neutral position. The fetal position also promotes an uneven distribution of weight, which can cause sore joints and back pain. You can help reduce your odds of waking up in pain by keeping your bending angle relaxed as opposed to tucking your chin to your chest and pulling your knees up as high as they can go.

While this is the third-best sleep posture for most, sleeping on your side with bent legs is the best sleeping position for pregnant women. It provides the most comfort and safety for a growing abdomen, and sleeping on the left side adds the extra benefits of boosting blood and nutrients to the baby. For added support, pregnant women may add a pillow between their bent legs and knees.

The One Sleep Position Everyone Should Avoid

Regardless of the type of pain you have, whether it’s low back, neck, joint, or related to pregnancy, sleeping on your stomach is not a good idea. This position puts the most pressure on your spine’s muscles and joints because it flattens the natural curve of your spine. Sleeping on your stomach also forces you to turn your neck, which can cause neck and upper back pain.

While stomach sleeping is best avoided, getting the sleep you need is even more important. If stomach sleeping is the only way you can snooze soundly, you can ease some stress off your back by putting a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen, and another pillow under your head. If the pillow under your head causes pain, remove that pillow.

Still Feeling Sleepy?

If you have healthy sleep posture, but you’re still struggling to get a good night’s rest, factors outside of your sleep position may be the culprit. For example, environmental disruptions (such as bright lights in your bedroom) or dietary habits (like eating a large meal before bed) could be interfering with your slumber. Learn about some common sleep thieves and how you can combat them in Sound Sleep Advice for a Healthy Spine.

View Sources

Improving Sleep: Special Health Report. Boston, MA: Harvard Medical School; 2015.

The Best Sleep Position for Your Body. Sleep.org. https://sleep.org/articles/best-sleep-position/. Accessed April 18, 2017.

We don’t often think about our spines when we’re lying in bed. But our sleep posture can help determine whether or not we experience back pain. So when you turn in for the night, remember these tips from physical therapist Marleen Caldwell, PT, MS, Cred MDT, on how to sleep to avoid back pain.

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1. Keep your spine in a neutral position

Choose a well-made innerspring or foam mattress, or add a foam mattress topper to your innerspring mattress for additional support. You can also alter your sleep position or use pillows to keep your spine neutral.

An innerspring mattress can create pressure points at the back of the head, the shoulder blades, the tailbone and the heels, and depending on how firm the mattress is, won’t support the curve of your spine at the neck or lower back.

2. Sleep on your back

The optimal sleeping position is on your back. This evenly distributes weight across the widest surface of your body, minimizing pressure points and ensuring proper alignment of your internal organs. The worst position for sleeping is on your stomach due to the unnatural position of your neck.

3. Alternate sides if you’re a side sleeper

Some evidence suggests that habitually sleeping on one side on an ill-fitting mattress may contribute to muscle imbalance and pain. Always sleeping on the same side suspends the middle of your body between your hips and shoulders, the broadest parts of the trunk. Place a pillow between your knees as shown below to keep hips, pelvis and spine aligned.

When you sleep on your side, notice how hip alignment changes with and without a pillow between your knees.

4. Use a pillow

Whichever sleep position you choose, put your pillow beneath your head and neck, but not your shoulders. If you sleep on your back, make sure the pillow fills the space between your neck and the mattress to maintain a neutral position, as illustrated below. If you sleep on your side, use a thicker pillow, also shown below.

When sleeping on your back, keep your neck properly aligned by filling the space between your neck and the mattress with a pillow. When lying on your side, use a thicker pillow and place it under your ear.

5. Your body type dictates the type of support you need

If your hips are wider than your waist, a softer mattress can accommodate the width of your pelvis and allow your spine to remain neutral, as shown below. If your hips and waist are in a relatively straight line, a more rigid surface offers better support.

Sleeping on a rigid surface (top) versus a softer surface (bottom) affects the position of the pelvis and lower spine.

How To Prevent Back Pain In Bed

Back pain can keep you up at night, it prevents you from enjoying a good night sleep and saps your day’s energy. But you’re in luck, not only are there solutions, but we’ve spoken to Hashim Saifuddin, Director and Osteopath at Atlas Osteopathy, to get the best and most thorough information to help you on your way to understanding back pain in bed.

What Causes Back Pain?

The main cause of back pain in bed is poor posture, either from how a person sits at work or how they sleep at night.

Between the vertebrae in the spine are intervertebral discs, which rehydrate at night (which is why we are taller in the morning, and part of the reason that the elderly lose height as they get older). Poor posture can prevent the discs rehydrating.

Read more: The NHS Guide To Back Pain

Attached to the vertebra are smaller muscle groups such as the erector spinae, and large muscles such as the trapezius. Poor posture can put the muscles into awkward positions that can cause irritation over a prolonged period of time, resulting in aches or pains. While there are several causes of back pain, a small number of which can be more serious underlying health issues. NHS Live Well gives us a list of common indicators of poor posture:

  • Slouching in a chair
  • Sticking your bottom out when standing (this could be a sign of hyperlordosis, an accented curve in the lower spine)
  • Standing with a flat back
  • Leaning on one leg
  • Hunched back and ‘text neck’ when focusing too much on your phone
  • Poking your chin out when at a computer
  • Rounded shoulders (a sign your back needs strengthening)
  • Cradling your phone in between your head and shoulder

These points are developed with images and solutions on this helpful NHS web page.

Prevention of Back Pain in Bed

In order to prevent back pain in bed, taking care of your posture is essential. A great start is to sleep on your right hand side, with knees bent up slightly. Laying on the right hand side is good for blood flow, as you have the smaller and lighter left lung resting on the heart in this position, maximising blood flow.

Ensure that the gap in between the shoulder, neck and head is filled with pillow, so that the spine and neck remain in good alignment. Imagine how your neck sits vertically in line with the rest of the spine when you are sitting and standing; when you are laying on your side, you want to maintain that. Pillow depth is key here, and firmness or softness is personal preference.

Related: Sealy Posturepedic Latex Pillow

How To Exercise to Relieve Back Pain

In the morning and evening it is beneficial to warm up and warm down. To achieve this:

  • Some gentle stretching will help in general, but particularly for pain in lower back.
  • For the neck and lower back, gentle stretching in all vectors of movement (bending forwards, backwards, to the sides, and in rotation) will help, ensuring you engage the core muscles at all times to strengthen them and stretch the other muscles.
  • Tight hamstrings can place stress on your lower back. To stretch your hamstrings, place one leg up on the bed and gently stretch forward until you feel the tension down the back of the leg. This will help, particularly if you have been sat down all day as the hamstrings will have been contracted and shortened for that whole period, they deserve a stretch!

Any exercise that strengthens your core will help prevent back pain in the future, so consider hitting the gym or park more often, or taking up a yoga class or similar.

Your mattress and back pain

When it comes to picking the right mattress, it is important to get the correct support for your spine. A mattress that is too hard can put too much pressure on the areas where you feel discomfort, whereas a mattress that is too soft will not provide support for the areas that need it, allowing the spine to spend long periods in poor and unhealthy positions.

People who suffer from lower back pain generally benefit more from a mattress erring on the firmer side of neutral. This is because of the shape of the spine, meaning that the lower back is often in need of more support. Most people can’t go wrong with a memory foam-type mattress, as this will provide support where support is needed, and allow for adjustment to the body where that is also required.

It is always a good idea to test any potential mattress first to check it supports you in the right way, the best way is pop into one of our stores and try a bed.

Related: Memory Foam Mattresses With 40 Night Comfort Guarantee

What are the best beds for bad backs?

If you’re prone to back pain, memory foam or alternative fillings such as latex can help cushion your back while maintain your spine’s natural alignment. The following mattresses are all popular options for those with back pain:

  • Sealy Posturetech Superior Mattress
  • Sealy Posturetech Supreme Mattress
  • TheraPur ActiGel Plus Harmonic 2200 Mattress
  • TEMPUR CoolTouch Cloud Elite Mattress
  • Sleepeezee Regency Dynasty Mattress

Your bed and back pain

Regarding the bed itself, if you are looking to start over completely, it may be important to remember that height of the bed can play an important part in preventing back pain. With beds that are too low and close to the ground, it is often that much more difficult getting out of bed in the morning, much like getting out of a low car!

Related: Sleep Better With These Simple Feng Shui Bedroom Tips

Have you suffered from back pain in bed? Please use the comments section below to tell us how you overcame the pain.

Physio Works – Physiotherapy Brisbane

Upper Back Pain & Injury

Article by J. Miller, A. Wong

Upper Back Pain

Upper back pain (or thoracic pain) is one of the most common injuries in modern society. Injuries can vary from simple to complex. They can also result from posture or fatigue strain injuries, lifting injuries, falls or even as a result of arm use eg throwing injury.

The following links provide upper back pain and thoracic spine injury information plus guidance. For specific advice specific to your upper back pain, please consult your spinal health practitioner or doctor.

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Common Sources of Upper Back Pain & Injury

General Information

  • Upper Back Pain
  • Posture Syndromes
  • Posture Braces

Joint Injuries

  • Facet Joint Pain

Muscle-related Injuries

  • Back Muscle Pain
  • Side Strain
  • Whiplash
  • Muscle Cramps
  • DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Bone-related Injuries

  • Scheuermann’s Disease
  • Scoliosis
  • Spondylosis
  • Spondylolysis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Rib Stress Fracture

Disc-related Injuries

  • Bulging Disc – Slipped Disc – Herniated Disc
  • Degenerative Disc Disease

Nerve-related / Referred Pain

  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Nerve Pain
  • Pinched Nerve

Systemic Diseases

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Psoriatic Arthritis

Thoracic Spine Red Flags

While most upper back pain is quite straightforward from a diagnostic perspective and it responds quickly to treatment, there are other potential sources of thoracic cage and chest pain that can be more sinister and require urgent intervention.

Cardiac conditions and malignancy are just a couple of potentially life-changing sources of upper back pain that should be investigated and treatment without delay. Due to the thoracic spine being more likely to be caused by a serious pathology when compared to your neck or lower back, it is also wise to consult with your trusted healthcare practitioner. You should certainly consult with your healthcare practitioner if you have any of the following red flags.

Red Flags

Red flags for possible serious spinal pathology include:

  • History of cancer, drug abuse, HIV, immunosuppression or prolonged use of corticosteroids.
  • Fever, chills, unexplained weight loss, or recent bacterial infection.
  • Pain that is:
    • Constant, severe and progressive.
    • Non-mechanical without relief from bed rest or postural modification.
    • Unchanged despite treatment for 2-4 weeks.
    • Accompanied by severe morning stiffness (rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis).
  • Recent violent trauma (such as a vehicle accident or a fall from a height) or a spine structure deformity.
  • Minor trauma, or even just strenuous lifting, in people with osteoporosis.
  • New back pain with an age at onset < 20 or > 50 years of age.
  • Severe or progressive neurological deficit (muscle weakness, loss of sensation/reflexes) in the lower extremities.

If you feel that you have any of the above symptoms, we recommend an urgent medical assessment.

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Common Upper Back Pain Treatments

Thoracic or upper back pain treatment may include any of the following treatment options depending upon your helathcare practitioners assessment and treatment plan.

  • Bed Rest
  • Early Injury Treatment
  • Avoid the HARM Factors
  • Soft Tissue Injury? What are the Healing Phases?
  • What to do after a Muscle Strain or Ligament Sprain?
  • Acupuncture and Dry Needling
  • Sub-Acute Soft Tissue Injury Treatment
  • Core Exercises
  • Scapular Stabilisation Exercises
  • Biomechanical Analysis
  • Proprioception & Balance Exercises
  • Medications?
  • Soft Tissue Massage
  • Brace or Support
  • Dry Needling
  • Electrotherapy & Local Modalities
  • Heat Packs
  • Joint Mobilisation Techniques
  • Kinesiology Tape
  • Neurodynamics
  • Physiotherapy Instrument Mobilisation (PIM)
  • Prehabilitation
  • Scapulohumeral Rhythm Exercises
  • Strength Exercises
  • Stretching Exercises
  • Supportive Taping & Strapping
  • TENS Machine
  • Video Analysis
  • Yoga
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    FAQs about Upper Back Pain

  • Common Physiotherapy Treatment Techniques
  • What Causes Back Pain?
  • What is Pain?
  • Physiotherapy & Exercise
  • When Should Diagnostic Tests Be Performed?
  • Massage Styles and their Benefits
  • What Causes Post-Exercise Muscular Pain?
  • What are the Best Core Exercises?
  • Can Kinesiology Taping Reduce Your Swelling and Bruising?
  • Chest Pain: Is it a Heart Attack or Your Spine?
  • Headache or Migraine… What to do?
  • Heat Packs. Why Does Heat Feel So Good?
  • How Does an Exercise Ball Help Back Pain?
  • How Much Treatment Will You Need?
  • How to Achieve the Best Standing Posture
  • Posture Trainer? Check out the BackTone 4000
  • What are the Benefits of a Standing Desk?
  • What are the Benefits of Good Posture?
  • What are the Common Adolescent Spinal Injuries?
  • What are the Common Massage Therapy Techniques?
  • What are the Early Warning Signs of an Injury?
  • What are the Healthiest Sleeping Postures?
  • What are the Signs of an Unsupportive Pillow?
  • What Can You Do To Help Arthritis?
  • What Causes Repeat Low Back Strains & Sprains?
  • What is a TENS Machine?
  • What is Chronic Pain?
  • What is Good Standing Posture?
  • What is Nerve Pain?
  • What is Sports Physiotherapy?
  • What is the Correct Way to Sit?
  • What to do when you suffer back pain?
  • What’s the Benefit of Stretching Exercises?
  • When Can You Return to Sport?
  • Which are the Deep Core Stability Muscles?
  • Why are Your Deep Core Muscles Important?
  • Why does Back Pain Recur?
  • Why Kinesiology Tape Helps Reduce Swelling and Bruising Quicker
  • Call PhysioWorks

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