For anyone who has ever experienced upper left back pain, they understand how annoying and irritating it can be.
Let’s be honest, dealing with body pain of any kind is never pleasant. It can be disconcerting when we experience, spontaneous or unexplained aches and pain in the body, especially in an area like the back.
There are a number of reasons, though, that people might experience discomfort or pain in the upper left back.
It’s important to note that some types of back pain can be organ-related, but these will usually appear down lower. These may be issues like pancreatitis, kidney stones or intestinal inflammation.
A thorough examination by your physician or a chiropractic back specialist can help determine if these might be the cause of your back pain.
Many people wonder, “When should I go to the ER for upper back pain?” If you’re experiencing chest pain that radiates or spreads to areas like the jaw and neck, or you start to feel upper back pain in association with these symptoms, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room as it may be a sign of an ongoing heart attack.
Of course, something more obvious like an injury caused by a fall, a collision of some sort, or a strain during athletic or work activity can be the reason for experiencing one-sided back pain.
Continued stress on the soft-tissue in the back can also lead to back pain on the right or left side as well.
9 Causes of Upper Left Back Pain
Minor pain in the upper back on the left side might be the result of normal activities, such as sleeping or sitting in front of the computer for too long. It’s also common after being confined to a seated position during long stretches of travel.
This type of pain will usually remedy itself. An over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen, may decrease inflammation and help relieve the discomfort. Icing the effected area can also reduce pain and inflammation.
However, there are other chronic conditions that can cause upper left back pain that require treatment.
Here are 9 Causes of Upper Back Pain on the Left Side:
1. Soft Tissue Injury
A soft-tissue injury such as a tear or strain often caused by repetitive movements related to work activities or sports, like golf and baseball, can result in upper back pain on the left or right side.
An awkward or sudden movement encountered when attempting to lift or pull a heavy object without proper form can certainly result in a back injury as well.
Osteoarthritis can occur from the breakdown of cartilage in between, or at the end of bones. This is one of the most common types of upper back pain.
One of the most common forms of arthritis is Osteoarthritis, and it usually begins to appear in middle age, although it can become an issue at any age due to an injury.
Fractures in the vertebrae are often a symptom of osteoarthritis because the bones are weakened and become porous. Fractures can also be the result of car accidents, a fall, or a wide variety of sports-related injuries.
Scoliosis is the term given to a sideways curvature to the spine. This upsets the body’s natural alignment and over time, it can lead to chronic back pain.
Many cases of Scoliosis are considered mild, but some can be very painful and require monitored medical attention.
5. Myofascial Pain
Myofascial pain is related to stressed or sensitive trigger points. The trapezius muscle, which is located in the upper back, can become affected by this type of condition and usually causes weakness, knotting, and poor range of motion.
6. Spinal Stenosis
Spinal Stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal, which is often linked to bony projections in the spine called bone spurs.
It is usually most noticeable in the lower back or neck areas and it cause pain as a result of pressure on the nerves.
Obesity can lead to upper back pain because of the added pressure of weight on the musculoskeletal makeup of the back. Obesity can cause pain in the upper back on either side, but it usually strains the lower or waist region.
8. Poor Posture
Chronic poor posture can cause upper left back pain by putting constant stress on the spine and muscles in the back. Poor posture when sitting for long periods of time is a typical of computer related jobs.
Age, of course is also a factor, especially for people who are out of shape or have weak core strength. We all lose muscle mass and strength from aging, so keeping fit and exercising regularly can help reduce age-related back pain.
For chronic back pain, it’s important to see a physician. Diagnosing the specific cause might include getting x-rays, an MRI, a CT scan or blood work to see if the back pain is organ or illness related.
Treatment for Upper Left Back Pain
Maintaining a healthy weight, along with a habit of cardio and strength workouts will help to prevent upper left back pain in the first place. Practicing good posture can also decrease the likelihood of this type of aggravating pain.
When upper left back pain persists, however, it may be time to consider a number of different treatment approaches.
5 Types of Treatment for Pain in the Upper Back on the Left Side:
1. Physical Therapy
Physical therapy is an excellent way to strengthen muscles in the back and learn stretching techniques to relieve tension. It can even help develop proper techniques for lifting, throwing, swinging, or other movements that led to pain in the first place.
2. Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue sports massage may be useful to work out tension and knots that might have developed in the muscle as a result of strain or injury.
There are many different types of massage techniques and any one of them will help relieve some of the pain, at least temporarily. Massage can also increase blood flow to the affected area to help with healing.
3. EPAT / Shockwave Therapy
EPAT Therapy (also known as Shockwave Therapy) is a non-invasive method for increasing the speed of healing and injury-related downtime.
EPAT Treatment is a painless, regenerative therapy that helps promote faster healing by delivering impulse pressure waves deep within damaged soft tissue. It works by stimulating blood flow to irritated tendons and ligaments and lessens inflammation for improved healing.
This form of treatment is non-surgical so there is no anesthesia necessary, no scarring, and no risk of infection.
In some cases, athletes or workers can actually undergo treatment sessions while still maintaining high levels of athletic activity or continuing to work.
4. Anti-Inflammatory Medication
Anti-inflammatory medication can be found over the counter in ibuprofen products like Advil, and can help reduce pain and inflammation. This can be used in the beginning when pain is first noticed and should be used in conjunction with a period of rest.
5. Heat and Ice
When upper back pain first appears, it’s best to ice the area with some form of cold pack to decrease swelling and inflammation. This will numb the area and constrict the blood vessels. Ice should also be used after every workout session.
It’s also ideal to alternate heat on the impacted area after the inflammation has been reduced. Heat will stimulate blood flow to the region to increase flexibility of the muscles and soft tissue.
All of these forms of treatment can help with upper back pain on the left or right side, as well as the middle of the back or lower down.
If upper back pain persists and becomes chronic, it is always advised to seek the consultation of a back specialist for a proper medical assessment.