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Upper back pain is in most cases related to static sitting and working positions which strain the muscles unevenly. Upper back pain is quite common in students. 

Upper back pain originates from tension or excessive stress on certain muscles as well as impaired blood flow to the muscles. Typically, pain is felt when some of the muscles work too much and others too little. Pain also often manifests in situations where muscles are either contracted or stretched for a long time.

Self-care

  • Take breaks from sitting and other static working positions at least every hour.
  • Note your posture and ensure you adopt a good working position. 
  • Exercise your upper back to increase mobility, and practise your breathing technique. 

When should you see a doctor?

See a doctor if:

  • your upper back pain is associated with a trauma such as a fall;
  • you have chest pain, abdominal pain or difficulty in breathing; or
  • you have continuous severe pain regardless of your position. 

When should you see a physiotherapist?

See a physiotherapist if:

  • pain persists despite self-care; or
  • if the pain is intermittent or related to a specific stress or a certain position.

FSHS Physiotherapist / 4 July 2023