Author:
Wysefit Staff

What Causes Upper Back Pain As We Get Older?

Having any type of pain is frustrating and can have a negative effect on your day. Upper back pain, in particular, can make living our everyday lives more difficult. And if upper back pain is chronic, then it can greatly reduce our quality of life. As we age, we are more prone to this type of pain, but why? After all, shouldn’t we be able to enjoy growing wiser without a nagging pain in our neck and shoulders? Unfortunately, our chances of experiencing upper back pain increase as we age for a variety of reasons. Let’s take a closer look at what causes upper back pain in wiser adults.

What is the Upper Back?

Before we begin, let’s define what we mean by the upper back. The upper back is sometimes referred to as the middle back or as the upper-middle back. We know that can be confusing! For our purposes, we are including the neck in the upper back since it is the part of your spine called the cervical spine. This delicate area is responsible for many important functions but can easily be damaged through the following conditions.

What Causes Upper Back Pain in Wiser Adults?

1. Weak Muscles

We use the muscles in our upper back for many different reasons – to sit up, look down, and turn from side to side. However, these muscles can become deconditioned and lose their tone. This happens naturally as you age and can also be due to poor posture, which we will talk about later. Deconditioning can also happen from sitting at desks or on couches for too long without properly working the muscles. At Wysefit, we offer a Back Health and Core Stability classes lead by a P.T which help strengthen core muscles and prevent back pain.

Related: Back Health and Core Stability Program

2. Poor Posture

The muscles in our upper back take a beating during the day. Thanks to the modern conveniences of computers and cell phones, we spend a lot of our time hunched forward. This has a terrible impact on our posture. Our back muscles become stretched out and weak while our chest muscles remain contracted. This leads to pain and a natural hunch. It can also cause unnecessary pressure on your neck, including the discs and ligaments in your spine. This pressure can also cause pain.

3. Muscle Overuse

Sometimes, we overuse our muscles and they can become strained or tight. Muscles can also become irritated if you perform the same motion over and over again. For example, if your job required you to perform the same motion every day, then you may experience upper back pain in the areas that you used most often. If your muscles were often irritated, then you may experience chronic pain that occurs even when you aren’t performing the action. Try these simple stretches to relieve tension in your upper back and neck: 

Shoulder and Neck Chair Yoga That You Can Do Anywhere, Anytime

4. Injury

Our upper body is a sensitive area that can easily be injured from a variety of circumstances. You may slip and fall, lift a heavy object incorrectly, be in a car accident, or become injured while playing a sport or exercising. As a result, you can feel pain in your upper back that can be debilitating. It is especially important to see your doctor if you have upper back pain after an injury. You may have nerve damage or cracked a vertebra and need immediately medical attention.

5. Cervical Osteoarthritis

Cervical osteoarthritis is also sometimes called cervical spondylosis. This is a common degenerative condition that affects the discs in your cervical spine, or neck. The discs in your neck lose their fluid and become stiffer as you age. This leads to a breakdown of the cartilage between the vertebrae, so they wind up rubbing against each other. This can cause pain and stiffness in your neck. If you are among those of us dealing with osteoarthritic challenges, it is essential that you strengthen your core muscles that support your spine. You are welcome to try our Back Health and Core Stability program in Wysefit app. Or you can start by doing these exercises: 

Ten Best Core Exercises for Back Health and Stability

6. Gallstones

Believe it or not, your gall bladder can cause pain in your upper back! When you have gall stones, they can cause severe pain in your abdomen. However, sometimes that pain can be transferred to your right shoulder or between your shoulder blades. Gallstones usually cause other symptoms like bloating, indigestion, nausea, and vomiting.

7. Osteoporotic Fracture

Osteoporosis is a common condition, in which the bones lose so much mass that they can easily break. The fragile thin bones of osteoporosis are especially common in older women because of the hormone changes that take place during menopause. Osteoporosis can cause your vertebrae or spine to fracture, which leads to constant pain in your upper back. Osteoporotic fractures can occur after traumatic events like a fall or car accident, or may happen for no apparent reason.

Wrapping it up

Upper back pain is extremely common among older, wider adults and is often caused by non-serious reasons like loss of muscle tone or poor posture. By exercising and stretching regularly, you can keep the muscles, ligaments, and spinal fluid in your upper body healthy and strong. This can greatly reduce your chances of experiencing upper back pain. However, if your pain is severe or chronic, then see a doctor. They can help determine if you have a herniated disc, vertebral fracture, or osteoarthritis. With physical therapy and medication, you can find upper back pain relief so you can live your life the way you want and not worry about pain!

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