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Why You Have Upper Back Pain on Left Side

Back pains have been on the rise in recent times. Physiotherapy clinics have reported increased cases of patients complaining of this condition. However, what causes upper back pain? Find out by scrolling down.

Various factors contribute to this pain. Some of them arise from our regular routines, which we tend to overlook.

Let’s look at the causes of pain on the left side of your upper back and what to look out for in identifying this pain. Keep your eyes peeled.

Causes of Back Pain on the Upper Left Side

Such a condition is not amusing at all — but it’s ordinary in most people. You can feel the pain from the following areas:

  • Bones
  • Joints
  • Ligaments
  • Muscles

Almost everything can contribute to upper back pain on the left side. Here are some of the common medical and lifestyle causes:

Injury to Bones and Tissues

In case a tissue or a bone in the upper back is injured, pain may be the next effect you feel. It can result from accidents, falls, or sports-related injuries.

When tissues are injured, the central spinal area is affected, which leads to pain on either the right side or the left. Most people may not be able to identify this in the early stages. However, as time goes by, the pain becomes more intense. One may end up with numbness or tingling in his/her arms or legs.

Complications in the Internal Organs

Upper back pain can result from some of the organs located in your mid-back, abdominal, or pelvic area. These include the colon, kidney, pancreas, or uterus for ladies. Diseases associated with these organs may include kidney stones, gallbladder, and pancreatitis.

Such pain in these areas indicates the possibility of irritation, inflammation, or infection of the affected internal organs. The pain may then radiate to your upper back become worse if not taken care of at the initial stages.

The Myofascial Pain Syndrome

It is a condition that causes sensitive trigger points in the muscles. When pressure is applied on the trigger points too often, aches and pains on the upper left side of the back may arise. The trapezius muscle, located in the upper back, is considered by therapists as the most common trigger points.

A repeated muscle contraction as a result of repetitive motions can also cause this pain. Activities such as sports or physical exercises can cause muscle tension. The upper back is, therefore, a victim of such undertakings.

Poor Posture

Almost everyone is guilt of contributing to upper back pain with this cause. From our sitting positions at work or home to our sleeping postures, we may lead to this pain. The result of this is that the spine and body may not align. Your back muscles, therefore, experience pressure and stress.


Poor posture commonly causes one side of the upper back to feel the pain. As a result of poor posture, some muscles may tighten up while others may shorten. Worse still, others may lengthen, therefore becoming weak and causing the pain in the back.

Fracture in the Vertebrae

One side of the upper back may experience pain because of a fracture in the vertebrae. Physiotherapy experts attribute this fracture to the osteoporosis condition, which results from weak and porous bones.

The majority of the spinal fractures pose a critical risk of spinal cord injury. They result from sports, falls, gunshots, or car accidents. Severe vertebrae fracture may lead to pain or paralysis in walking and moving the arms or legs. The most viable people to this condition are those with tumors, certain forms of cancer, or tumors.

Kyphosis Condition

It is a spinal disorder that results in the outward curving of the upper spine in the thoracic and sacral regions. Many refer to it as round back or hunchback. Kyphosis is most common in older women though it may occur at any age.

For older women, weak spinal bones are the causes of compression or cracking. The younger age group may experience this condition as a result of spine malformation or spinal bones wedging over time. In mild cases, patients may have fewer problems. However, severe kyphosis causes pain and may lead to disfiguring.


Another common cause of upper back pain is the sideways curvature of the spine mostly experienced during the growth spurt just before puberty in teens. It is an abnormal curve of the spine in which the spine is bent forward.

Though the causes of this condition are not explicitly known, some physiotherapists have attributed it to congenital disability, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, or cerebral palsy. People with scoliosis may have uneven shoulders or hips appearing to lean little.

Herniated Disc

Discs support the vertebrae forming the spine in the back. They are round in shape, congruent with small pillows, and they have a robust, outer layer surrounding the nucleus. The herniated disc condition is, therefore, is a fragment of the disc nucleus pushed out of the annulus. The piece enters the spinal canal via a rupture or tears in the annulus.

What results is the inside disc gel to leaking, therefore, protruding through the outer layer of the disc. Victims of this condition experience pain in the affected area of the disc and also upper back pain on the left side.


Smoking on its own has far-reaching medical effects on the body of a person. However, it can also contribute to upper back pain. How can mere smoke cause such an impact on the body? Scroll down.

Every puff of smoke you inhale may cause your blood flow to the spine to slow down. It, therefore, makes it difficult for your body to heal quickly. That is why smoking may lead to long-lasting back pains.

The next time you try to get a cigarette near your lips, think about the long term effects on your spine.

General Symptoms to Watch Out For

People experiencing this pain on the upper back may have the following symptoms:

  1. Pain extending to the chest or upper abdomen
  2. Numb or weak legs
  3. Sharp pains when it comes to movement
  4. A limited range of motion
  5. Neck pain, shoulder pain and tightness on the upper back
  6. Muscle spasms and cramps
  7. A shoulder blade sticking out
  8. Having tender muscle knots
  9. Weakness and tingling in the legs
  10. Feeling pain in the upper abdomen

All these should prompt you to know that all is not well with your upper back. The discussions above may not cover everything you need to know about what causes upper back pain, but they are a good starting point. Remember, it’s better to repair a hole than bring the whole wall up again.


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