Upper Left Back Side Pain: Causes and Relief Tips

Pain in your upper left back happens a lot. It can be because of muscle strain, poor posture, or other health problems like herniated discs or spinal stenosis. The pain might feel dull, sharp, or achy. It could get worse when you move or feel better when you rest. Sometimes, just resting can make the upper back pain on the left side go away. But, if it’s from a long-term issue, it might stick around until you get it checked out. This article will look at what could be causing your upper left back pain. It will talk about the signs you might notice. And it will give ideas for getting better, avoiding the pain, and stopping it from coming back.

Key Takeaways

  • Upper left back pain can be caused by a range of factors, including muscle strain, poor posture, and underlying spinal conditions.
  • The pain may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as radiating pain, limited range of motion, and difficulty breathing.
  • A healthcare provider can use various tests, including imaging and blood tests, to diagnose the underlying cause of the pain.
  • Treatment options can include home remedies, medical interventions, lifestyle changes, and natural remedies, depending on the severity and cause of the pain.
  • Preventive measures, such as maintaining good posture, exercising regularly, and avoiding smoking, can help reduce the risk of upper left back pain.

Understanding the Back Structure

The back is complex, with different sections. It includes the neck, upper and middle back, and lower back. Knowing the back’s parts helps find where upper left back pain comes from.

The Cervical Spine

The neck or cervical spine has seven vertebrae. These are called C1 through C7. They support your head and let you move your neck in different ways.

The Thoracic Spine

Most of your upper back is the thoracic spine. It has 12 vertebrae, known as T1 to T12. These connect the neck and lower back. They make your back strong and flexible.

The Lumbar Spine

Your lower back, or lumbar spine, has five big vertebrae. They are labeled L1 to L5. This area carries a lot of the body’s weight. It lets you bend, twist, and lift things.

Vertebrae and Discs

The spine is a column of individual bones. These bones have discs between them. Discs cushion the bones. They help you move and protect the spinal cord.

Causes of pain upper left back side

Upper left back pain can come from many things. It might be from hurting your muscles or problems in your spine. Inside organs issues can also cause it.

Doing the same movements or sudden ones can hurt your muscles. This can cause your back to hurt and make it hard to move. Problems like herniated discs can also make your upper back hurt. This pain might spread to other places.


Scoliosis is when the spine curves sideways. It can make your back feel stiff or hurt. You might also feel weak or numb in your legs because of it.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis happens when the spinal canal gets narrow. It might make you feel pain, cramps, or weak. You might also feel numb because of it.


Kyphosis makes your upper back look hunched. It can cause pain and trouble breathing.

Vertebral Fracture

Vertebral fractures can be very painful. They’re often linked to osteoporosis.

Poor Posture

Bad posture can stress your back muscles. This often happens from sitting too long or slouching.


Osteoarthritis can make the upper back hurt too. It’s from the breaking down of cartilage in bones.

Myofascial Pain

Myofascial pain syndrome causes pain in your muscles. It makes some points very sensitive. This can limit your movement and make your muscles feel tender.


Problems with organs like the pancreas or kidneys can cause this pain too. Pancreatitis and kidney stones are examples.

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Kidney Stone

Getting kidney stones can be very painful. It starts in the lower abdomen and might move to the back.

Heart Attack

Heart attacks can feel like strong pain in your upper back. This pain can spread to your chest, jaw, and neck. Seek medical help right away if you feel it.

Other Symptoms of Upper Left Back Pain

Upper left back pain can come with other signs, based on the cause. If it starts in the upper left abdomen and moves to the back, it might mean you have a muscle strain or a herniated disc. It could also signal pancreatitis or a kidney stone.

Pain under the shoulder blade might show you have a muscle strain or poor posture. It might also be a vertebral fracture, or serious kyphosis.

Feeling more pain in your upper back when you breathe can be a sign of muscle strain or maybe a severe scoliosis. It might also point to a vertebral fracture. If pancreatitis is the cause, you’ll feel this pain after eating rich or fatty food.

Pain that goes from your upper back to your arm could mean you have spinal stenosis or myofascial pain. It could also be a vertebral fracture, or in very serious cases, a heart attack. Knowing these extra signs can show what might be causing your upper left back pain.

Diagnosing Upper Left Back Pain

Your healthcare provider will start by looking at your history. They’ll also give you a physical exam. They will ask about your pain, when it started, and how it feels. They want to know if you have other symptoms too.

Medical History Review

Your doctor will ask about your upper left back pain. They’ll also check if you have any other health issues or injuries. This helps to find the real reason for your pain.

Physical Examination

They will test how well you can move and if any areas are sore. They might check your nerves too.

Blood Tests

For some causes, they may do blood tests. These tests can show if you have swelling or an infection. It’s an important step in diagnosing your pain.

Imaging Tests

If your doctor needs more info, they might suggest X-rays or other tests. These can show problems in your bones or tissues. Things like herniated discs or fractures might be the cause of your pain.

All this information helps your healthcare provider figure out what’s wrong. Then, they can create a plan to help you feel better.

Treatment Options for Upper Back Pain

If your upper left back hurts, treatments can ease the pain and fix the problem. The way to help you depends on how hurt you are and what makes you feel bad.

Home Remedies

When it’s just a little pain, simple home fixes might work. Pain medications from the store, like ibuprofen, can calm the hurt. Using hot or cold packs on your back can help too. Also, do some gentle exercises and stretches to keep moving and feel better.

Medical Treatment

But for bigger pains or if it keeps coming back, you might need help from a doctor. They could give you stronger prescription medications or suggest seeing a physical therapist. Sometimes, you might need injections or surgery if the problem is bad, like a herniated disc.

Lifestyle Changes

Changing how you live can stop or lower back pain. Sitting and standing right can help your back feel better. Doing regular exercises, like stretching and easy workouts, makes you stronger. Also, watching your weight and taking breaks when you work hard is good for your back.

Natural Remedies

Some people like natural ways to deal with back pain. Things like massage or acupuncture might help your muscles relax. Plant-based supplements or lotions with herbs can be good for the pain. But, always talk to your doctor before you try any natural treatments.

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The best way to treat your upper left back pain is by figuring out what’s causing it. Talk to your doctor to put together a plan that’s just right for you. They can help you find long-lasting relief.

Prevention Tips

Upper left back pain has many causes. But, you can take steps to feel better. Good posture is key. Whether sitting or standing, keep your back straight. This helps your back muscles stay strong.

Don’t forget to move. Doing exercise helps your back and stomach muscles. This makes your spine stronger. It also lowers the chance of getting hurt.

Maintain Good Posture

Watch your posture all day, every day. Make sure you sit up straight at your desk. Also, stand tall. Keep your shoulders back and chin up. Do your best to keep your back in a straight line. Use a special pillow or change your chair to help.

Exercise Regularly

Add fun workouts to your week. This can include sit-ups and push-ups. Stretching is good, too. It makes your body more flexible.

Quit Smoking

Stop smoking to help your back. Smoking slows healing. It can make back pain worse. Quitting helps your upper back feel better.

Manage Weight

Being at a healthy weight is good for your back. Extra weight puts more burden on your muscles. Eating well and staying active are the keys.

Take Breaks

If you sit a lot or move a lot, pause. Take breaks to rest your back. Stretching or walking for a bit is a great idea. Or just change your position. These small breaks can save you from aches and pains.

Follow these steps to avoid or lessen upper left back pain. They’re simple ways to keep your back happy.

Risk Factors

Many factors can up your chance of upper left back pain. Knowing these can help you stop it or handle it better. This is a common issue we all face.


Smoking harms your spine’s health. It cuts blood flow to the spine and slows healing. This makes fixing back problems harder.

Excess Body Weight

Extra weight, especially around the middle, strains your back. It adds pressure that can lead to pain in the upper left back.

Lack of Physical Activity

Not moving much and weak core and back muscles can harm your spine. Exercise helps make these muscles stronger. This lowers the chance of upper back pain.

Increasing Age

Spinal wear and tear get worse as you age. This can lead to issues like osteoarthritis or spinal stenosis, causing upper back pain. So, taking care of your spine gets more important over time.

Other Medical Conditions

Health issues like depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and Paget’s disease can make back pain worse. Treating these fully can ease upper back pain.

Know and manage these risk factors to deal with upper left back pain. This could make your spine and life better.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Sometimes, minor upper left back pain gets better on its own. But, you should seek medical attention in some cases. If the pain is strong or stays, or if you feel numb, weak, or can’t control your bladder, see a doctor right away. It might be a sign of a big problem like a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or a heart issue. Fast medical action is needed.

If the pain started after a bad fall or car crash, seeking medical attention right away is wise. This step helps ensure there are no severe injuries. Quick medical help means a clear answer and treatment for upper left back pain. Also, it helps stop problems from happening.

Anyone with numbness, tingling, or bladder control loss and upper left back pain should seek help right away. This could point to something serious.

If upper left back pain is hard, keeps up, or comes with worrisome signs, don’t wait. Getting checked and treated fast can solve the main issue. It also stops any bad things from happening.

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Outlook and Recovery

The outlook for upper left back pain relies on its cause and how bad it is. Often, slight upper back pain gets better in a few weeks or months. This happens with the right treatment and self-care. But if it’s from a more serious issue like a herniated disc or scoliosis, recovery might be longer. It will need more help from doctors. How well you can treat it and cope with it matters for the future.

When dealt with the right way, people with upper left back pain can feel much better. They can have a good life quality. It’s key to see the doctor often to track how you’re doing. They may need to tweak your treatment plan.

ConditionOutlook for Upper Left Back PainRecovery Timeline
Minor Muscle StrainGoodFew Weeks to Months
Herniated DiscDepends on Response to TreatmentLonger, Requires Medical Intervention
Spinal StenosisDepends on Severity and TreatmentLonger, Requires Comprehensive Management
ScoliosisDepends on Severity and TreatmentLonger, Requires Ongoing Care

By getting help early and managing it well, people can get better. They can enjoy a better life.


Upper left back pain is quite the puzzle. It can come from many things like muscle issues or big problems with your spine or organs. Knowing the back’s structure and key signs can help your doctors figure things out. They will work on a plan to get you feeling better that may include stuff you do at home, medicines, and changes to how you live.

Keeping a good posture and staying active is really important to stop the pain from coming back. Also, not smoking and staying at a healthy weight can make a big difference. With quick action and a plan in place, most people can beat upper back pain and get back to enjoying life.

The conclusion we draw here is clear. Understanding your pain and working to prevent it are key. Follow the advice of pros to pick the best way to treat it. This way, you can make your pain better and feel healthier again.


What are the common causes of upper left back pain?

Many things can cause upper left back pain. These include muscle strain, herniated discs, and scoliosis. It can also come from bad posture or problems with organs like the pancreas.

What are the common symptoms associated with upper left back pain?

Signs of this pain include pain under the shoulder blade. Also, pain that gets worse with breathing or after eating. It might even go down into the arm.

How is the cause of upper left back pain diagnosed?

Doctors look at your past health, then check you over. They might need blood or imaging tests. These tests can include X-rays or MRIs.

What are the treatment options for upper left back pain?

There are many ways to treat this pain. You can use over-the-counter meds or ice packs. Doctors might also prescribe meds or suggest surgery. Natural ways can also help.

How can upper left back pain be prevented?

Good posture and regular exercise are key. Quitting smoking and watching your weight are important too. Taking breaks from sitting a lot can also help.

When should someone seek medical attention for upper left back pain?

If your pain is severe or doesn’t go away, see a doctor. Also, if you feel numb, weak, or lose control, get help right away. The same goes for injury-caused pain in your upper back.

What is the outlook for recovery from upper left back pain?

How fast you recover depends on the problem and its seriousness. Minor pain may get better in weeks with care. But if it’s more serious, you might need longer and more help.