What are Common Causes of High Back Pain?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 February 2019
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Just like low back pain, however, high back pain is often triggered by another part of the body, such as the neck or shoulders. Poor posture, muscle strains, overuse, or even a lack of sufficient use can lead to pain, as can unchecked injuries or extreme fatigue. To begin alleviating pain in the upper back, one should first figure out what is causing the pain and treat the cause.

The most common causes of high back pain are overuse of shoulder and neck muscles, as well as poor posture. High back pain is common in people who use the shoulder and neck muscles too much in a given period of time, thereby allowing the muscles to become strained. The high back muscles then compensate for the injured or strained muscles, which can lead to pain in the high back. To counteract such pain, one should be sure to stretch the muscles of the neck, shoulders, and arms both before and after physical activity. Pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help temporarily relieve pain, but these are by no means permanent solutions.


Sitting at a desk for long periods of time can cause high back pain, especially if one does not pay attention to proper posture. Slouching and dropping the head and neck can put undue strain on the muscles of the neck, shoulder, and high back, leading to pain throughout these areas. If the sufferer spends a significant amount of time sitting at a desk, he or she should consider purchasing an ergonomic chair that helps support the lower back as well as the neck, thereby promoting better posture that will prevent pain.

Other causes of pain in the high back include repetitive motions such as heavy lifting, injury, and even stress. Muscles tense as the body and mind experience more stress, which means the muscles are taxed to the point of pain. One should consider evaluating his or her daily routines to help reduce stress levels, thereby releasing strained muscles. A regular workout routine is also a good solution to chronic back pain of any kind, since exercise keeps muscles limber, and stronger muscles can handle more repetitive motion or strain than weaker muscles can.


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Post 1

I don't think any computer desk or chair combination in existence can keep you from having high back pain if you work at a computer all day. Ergonomics experts are making a killing saying they can prevent bad back pain, but pretty much, it's just making sure you actually get away from your machine for a couple of minutes at least every hour, if not every 30 minutes or so.

I have trapezius pain on my right side, probably from using a mouse so much. It can get pretty bad, and the only thing that helps is reducing my computer use and taking NSAIDs. They don't bother me, thank goodness!

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