Musculoskeletal Causes Of Upper Left Back Pain
Conditions affecting the muscles and joints are often the causes of upper left back pain.
- Poor posture, body movements or improper ways of twisting and lifting can cause upper left back pain.
- Pulls and strains of the upper left back muscles from lifting heavy weights, awkward movements, overuse and overstretching.
- Disorders of the spine, including intervertebral disc protrusion, damage to the disc, compression of nerves can also cause pain in the left upper back.
- Fibromyalgia, myofascial pain and other muscle pain related conditions causing pain of different muscle groups in the neck, left shoulder and upper left back region.
- Conditions affecting the ribs, disorders of the joints, like osteoarthritis, sometimes rheumatoid arthritis affecting the shoulder joint, vertebrae and other associated joints in the area of upper left back.
How To Treat Upper Back Pain
- Ice or heat packs
- Over-the-counter medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , or acetaminophen
- Manual therapy, such as physical therapy, massage, Thai yoga massage, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation
- Exercise, Pilates, or yoga
Change your sleeping position
- Keep your spine in a neutral position by using a different mattress or foam mattress topper for additional support or using pillows to support your spine.
- Sleep in a different position, such as sleeping on your back or alternating sides if you are a side sleeper.
- Invest in a supportive and just-right pillow for your head and neck curvature, says Holland.
Stretch your upper back
Consult with your doctor if problems persist
How Can You Get An Upper Back Pain Diagnosis
When you go to a doctor for your upper or mid back pain, youll start with a conversation. Expect the doctor to ask you about any events that may be directly responsible: A fall, a car accident, or any changes or increases to your fitness routine.
You might be asked to rank your pain on a scale of 0-10. You should also be prepared to talk about how your pain does, or does not, interfere with the activities of your daily life. Can you cook dinner, get dressed, take a shower?
Then comes the physical exam: the poking and prodding part of your visit. The doctor wants to see how your upper back pain affects your movement. Expect to sit, stand, reach, and bend in the exam room. After that, youre likely to get an X ray.
If symptoms persist or you have red flags such as a progressive weakness or bowel or bladder control problems, you may get more advanced testing, Dr. Knight says. He explains that MRI would be the likely choice.
Heres a look at several types of advanced testing for upper back pain.
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Medical Illnesses Causing Pain
Medical illnesses which occasionally may cause pain in the upper part of the tummy include:
- A serious complication of type 1 diabetes, called diabetic ketoacidosis. This makes you very unwell generally, but occasionally tummy pain can be one of the symptoms.
- A complication of a condition called Addison’s disease, called an Addisonian crisis, occasionally can give you tummy pain. Again you would be unwell in other ways other than the pain.
- . This is infection which has spread through your body, and again, in addition to pain you would be very unwell.
- An unusual blood disorder called acute porphyria.
When To See A Provider About One
If you have pain in the left or right side of your backthat started for no particular reason, it will most often resolve on its own orwith minimal treatment, says Dr. DeMicco. Typically, we see 50% of casesresolving within two weeks and 75% resolving by six to eight weeks.
Have you been dealing with intense pain for 10 days andover-the-counter pain relievers arent cutting it? Time to call your doctor,who may recommend:
- Stronger medicines: Prescription-strength muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medications could take the edge off as your body heals.
- Manipulation: A physical therapist, chiropractor or osteopath could perform hands-on treatment that deliver relief.
If your pain extends beyond six weeks, your doctor willlikely recommend imaging, says Dr. DeMicco. An X-ray is usually the firststep to ensure there isnt a broken bone or some other obvious reason for thepain.
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Muscle Strain Or Tension
Neck pain on the left or right side is often caused by muscle tension or muscle strain.While a muscle strain happens when a tendon or muscle is stretched too much. Muscle tension happens when a muscle is unable to release completely after contraction.Here are the causes of muscle strain or tension in the neck.
- Sleeping in a bad position
- Hunching over for long hours
- Talking over the phone while holding it in between shoulder and ear
- Putting too much pressure on muscles while exercising
- Pain or stiffness in the neck
- Inflammation in neck or shoulder
- Numbness in the arms
Pain Coming From The Pancreas
Your pancreas is in the middle of the upper part of your tummy. Chemicals made by cells in the pancreas pass into the guts to help digest food. The hormones insulin and glucagon are also made in the pancreas and help to regulate the blood sugar level. It can become inflamed in the conditions acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis, causing upper tummy pain, usually with feeling sick and/or being sick . The pain is usually in the centre of the upper part of your tummy, but can be felt on the left. In acute pancreatitis there is usually also a fever and you may feel very unwell in yourself.
Cancers of the pancreas can also cause upper tummy pain.
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What Should I Know About Upper Back Pain
Upper back pain can start anywhere from the back of your neck to the bottom of your rib cage. These areas are less likely to trouble you compared to your lower back.
The spine or the backbone is one of the sturdiest parts of the body and gives the body the desired strength and flexibility. The spinal cord is comprised of 24 bones, known as vertebrae, and has discs in between the bones. There are several strong ligaments and muscles surrounding them that provide support to the bones. Also, the spinal cord has many small joints on both sides. The structures of your spine, such as the joints, discs and ligaments, start to degenerate as you age. As you age, its usual for your back to get stiffer.
Approximately 80 percent of adults will experience back pain in their lives. You can prevent or relieve most back pain episodes with simple home treatment and proper body mechanics. Surgery is often not needed to treat back pain.
What Can Cause Upper Back Pain
Causes of upper back pain may include:
- Overworked muscles
- Damage to the vertebral discs
- Wear and tear of cushioning between the vertebrae
- Degenerative bone disease
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When Should You See A Doctor For Upper Back Pain
Sudden pain in the upper back can be a sign of a heart attack. or go to your nearest emergency room for upper back pain when:
The pain radiates from your chest or also involves the jaw, neck, shoulder or arm.
You have other symptoms, including , anxiety, , , lightheadedness, weakness, nausea or .
You have sudden crushing pain or pressure in the left upper back or shoulder.
You should also seek emergency medical care for upper back pain when:
You have new bowel or bladder problems.
You have a fever or chest or abdominal pain.
You have sustained a back injury, such as a blow to the upper back or a car accident, fall, or .
Most cases of mild upper back pain will resolve with home treatment. However, there are times when seeing a doctor is the safest option to make sure nothing serious is causing the pain. See your doctor when upper back pain:
Interferes with your sleep, work, or daily activities
Is constant or severe, does not respond to rest, or is worse when you lie down
Persists for more than two weeks despite home management
Occurs with , redness and swelling on the back, or weakness, or in the arms, chest or legs
- Radiates or spreads to the arms or legs
Symptoms Of Upper Left Back Pain
Upper left back pain is itself a symptom. Complaints may include constant or intermittent pain in upper left back. Pain in the upper left back may be accompanied with difficulty in movement of back, shoulder or arms. Upper left back pain may become severe following coughing, sneezing, movements of left side of chest and deep breathing. Nerve related causes may show burning, pain with numbness and tingling in arms. Musculoskeletal causes often show a history of injury or strain and may be associated with bruising of skin and muscle spasm.
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Pain Moves From Your Chest To Your Back
One potential cause of back pain is a condition called costochondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage connecting your ribs to your breastbone. While lifting heavy items, respiratory infections, and chest injuries can cause it, often the source of the pain is unclear. You may feel pain that travels from your chest to your back. Definitely get checked out by your doctor, it often goes away without any treatment.
Preventing Upper Back Pain
While back pain is common, its possible to lower your risk of getting upper back pain. Here are some tips:
- Practice good posture. Sit and stand up straight. When you sit, position your hips and knees at 90 degrees.
- Exercise.Cardio and resistance training will strengthen your back muscles and lower your risk of injury.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight can place stress on the back.
- Quit or avoid smoking. This will help you quickly heal after a back injury. Quitting is often difficult, but a doctor can help you develop a smoking cessation plan right for you.
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Kidney Stones Or Infection
Your kidneys are part of your urinary tract. Theyre located on either side of your spine, but when they become inflamed or infected, the pain can radiate to the front. When your left kidney is involved, you might feel pain near the left side of your rib cage.
Kidney stones are hardened calcium and salt deposits that form into stones. They can cause a cramping pain as they move out of your kidneys and make their way toward your bladder. In addition to pain in your left rib cage, kidney stones can also cause:
- an urge to urinate, with little coming out
- bloody or cloudy urine
- pain in your side that radiates to the front of your body
Kidney infections occur when bacteria from your urinary tract make their way into your kidneys. Anything that obstructs your flow of urine, including kidney stones, can cause a kidney infection. Additional symptoms of a kidney infection include:
Diagnosis Of Upper Left Back Pain
Diagnosis can be made after thorough history taking and physical examination. Recent history of fall, accidents injuries and stings may suggest the cause of upper left back pain. Presence of fever is assessed to rule out possibility of infections. Blood investigations help to detect infections, inflammation and other possible conditions. X-rays, bones scans and MRI may be performed to find bone, muscle, ligament and soft tissue damage as well as diseases of lung and abdominal organs. Nerve conduction studies, ECG and other cardiac related investigations may be performed, if appropriate.
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Causes/reasons For Lower Back Pain
Following are some reasons for lower back pain are,
- Unbalance nutritious diet
- Calcium or phosphorus deficiency during pregnancy can cause backache in offspring.
- Some females also develop lumber pain before or during the menstrual cycle.
- Sitting work in front of any electronic device such as TV, computer, laptop, etc.
Fevers Chills And Weight
Patients with a spinal infection usually have localized pain, worse when they are bearing weight or engaged in activity. Pain can be intense, and may be relieved only by laying down. Fever, chills, headache and generalized illness are usually present, but even with advanced infection these symptoms may be subtle or overlooked for some time. If, however, you’ve noticed that you are losing weight, experiencing fatigue and have had fevers, chills or night sweats in addition to your back pain, you should bring this to the attention of your doctor. Severe pain may be caused by simply sitting up or changing positions. If the vertebra is weakened by infection it may collapse, and a deformity may be detected.
Spinal infections usually start somewhere else, and the most frequent causes are urinary tract infections, dental abscesses, pneumonia or any chronic wound. Back pain that starts up while you are being treated for one of these problems deserves a careful look.
Neurological signs should be carefully sought. Patients who initially complain of focal spine pain, followed by progressive radicular pain, weakness and incipient paralysis may have infection within the canal, with development of an epidural abscess.
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Epat / Shockwave Therapy
EPAT 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.
How Are Back And Neck Pain Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will ask about your health history and do a physical exam. They may also do X-rays of the affected areas, as well as an MRI. This allows a more complete view. The MRI also makes pictures of soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels. The MRI can help spot infection, tumor, inflammation, or pressure on your nerve. Sometimes a blood test may help diagnose arthritis, a condition that can cause back and neck pain.
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Problems With The Spleen
Your spleen is just behind your stomach, under and behind the lower ribs on your left. Its main functions are to filter your blood, create new blood cells and store platelets. It is also a key part of your body’s immune system. It may cause pain:
- When it becomes enlarged, which can happen in certain blood-related cancers such as leukaemias and lymphomas. This tends to be a vague ache which may gradually get worse. It can also become enlarged during infections such as glandular fever, in which case a very mild pain would be associated with tiredness and repeated bouts of a sore throat and sometimes high temperature .
- If it bursts following an injury, such as in a road traffic accident. This causes a sudden severe pain shortly after trauma to the tummy (abdomen.
- If it is damaged as part of a crisis in sickle cell disease.
Organs On The Left Side Of The Abdomen
On the left side of your abdomen you can find some of the most important internal organs in your body:
Left lung The lower part of your left lung is located behind your heart and both of your lungs play a vital function in the respiratory system.
Spleen, pancreas, and part of the liver Although your liver is located under the right rib cage, part of it is located on the left side just under your heart. Below your heart under the left part of your rib cage are your liver, spleen, and pancreas. These organs, along with your liver, are an important part of your digestive system and help to break down food to extract nutrients and filter out waste products.
Left kidney Your left kidney is located towards your back and, just like the liver, helps to filter blood and keep you healthy.
Part of the stomach, intestines, and colon Part of your stomach, intestines, and colon are also located on the left side of your abdomen. The last part of your colon is located in the lower left side of the abdomen. If you have any digestive problems, the digestive-related pain might be felt on the left side.
Womens reproductive system Women also have part of their reproductive system on the left side of their body: part of the womb, left fallopian tube and the left ovary.
Organs on the Left Side of the Abdomen
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Causes Of Upper Left Side Thoracic Back Pain
Following are some main reasons/causes of the given condition,
- Muscles strain, tear or stretch in muscles.
- A herniated disc, bones of the spine are separated by discs which if slipped or ruptured out, called a herniated disc.
- Kyphosis, a spinal condition when the upper back hunched or rounded due to excessive curves in the spine.
- Scoliosis, abnormal curves in the spine, often occurs naturally.
- Arthritis, joints inflammation
- Fracture vertebrae, fracture in spine vertebrae.
- Genetically, family history about backache
- Anxiety & depression
- Poor posture, spine & body are not aligned.
- During pregnancy or birth time
- Tissue injuries, bursting, or swelling of tissues after injury.