12 Natural Remedies for Upper and Middle Back Pain

Upper and middle back pain is a common complaint that affects people of all ages. It can range from mild discomfort to severe pain, making it difficult to perform daily activities. This type of pain typically occurs in the area between the base of the neck and the bottom of the rib cage.  The good news is that there are several natural remedies you can try at home to alleviate your pain and improve your overall well-being. In this article, we’ll explore 12 effective natural remedies for upper and middle back pain.

Symptoms of Upper and Middle Back Pain

The symptoms associated with upper and middle back pain can vary widely depending on the underlying cause, but may include:

  • Dull, burning, aching, or sharp pain localized to the upper/middle back region
  • Muscle tightness, stiffness, spasms, or knots in the upper back
  • Pain that worsens with movement, activity, or certain positions like bending or twisting
  • Pain that radiates to the arms, legs, chest, or abdomen, potentially indicating nerve involvement
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the extremities, which can also signal nerve compression
  • Difficulty standing up straight or maintaining good posture due to muscle tightness or spinal misalignment

In some cases, upper and middle back pain may be accompanied by other symptoms like headaches, fatigue, difficulty sleeping due to discomfort, or even shortness of breath if the pain is severe or related to a lung condition.

Upper Back Pain
Upper Back Pain

What Causes Upper and Middle Back Pain?

There are numerous possible causes of upper and middle back pain, ranging from muscle strains and injuries to more serious underlying conditions. Some of the most common culprits include:

1. Muscle Strain or Overuse

The muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support and stabilize the thoracic spine can become strained, torn, or fatigued through overuse, repetitive motions, or sudden trauma. Poor posture, whether from sitting at a desk all day, carrying heavy loads, or engaging in activities that require repetitive overhead movements. It can also lead to muscle tightness, spasms, and fatigue in this area.

2. Herniated or Bulging Disc

The rubbery discs that cushion and separate the vertebrae can bulge or rupture, putting pressure on the surrounding nerves and causing pain that may radiate to the arms, chest, or even legs. While disc issues are more common in the lower back, they can still occur in the thoracic spine, especially due to trauma or degenerative changes.

3. Osteoarthritis

As we age, the cartilage cushioning the facet joints in the spine can wear away, leading to inflammation, bone spurs, and pain. Osteoarthritis is a common culprit of upper back aches, especially in older adults or those with a history of repetitive stress or injury to the spine.

4. Compression Fractures

Fractures or collapsed vertebrae, often caused by osteoporosis or trauma, can occur in the thoracic spine and cause both acute and chronic pain. These types of fractures are more common in older individuals with low bone density or those who have suffered a fall or other injury.

5. Spinal Stenosis

A narrowing of the spinal canal that compresses the spinal cord or nerve roots can trigger upper back pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the extremities. Stenosis can develop due to arthritis, herniated discs, bone spurs, or other degenerative spine conditions that encroach on the space within the spinal column.

6. Myofascial Pain

This chronic pain condition affects the connective muscle tissue (fascia) and can cause upper back stiffness, tenderness, and the development of trigger points or painful knots in the muscles. Myofascial pain syndrome is often associated with poor posture, repetitive strain, or muscle imbalances.

Other Causes

In some cases, upper and middle back discomfort may be caused by or related to other medical conditions, such as gallbladder issues, stomach problems, fibromyalgia, spinal curvature disorders like kyphosis and scoliosis, and even lung cancer.

Upper and Middle Back Pain
Upper and Middle Back Pain

12 Natural Remedies for Upper and Middle Back Pain Relief

1. Stretching and Gentle Exercises

One of the most effective ways to relieve upper and middle back pain is through stretching and gentle exercises. These movements can help improve flexibility, reduce muscle tension, and promote better posture. Some simple stretches to try include:

  • Shoulder rolls: Slowly roll your shoulders forward and backward, focusing on releasing tension in your upper back and neck.
  • Neck stretches: Gently tilt your head from side to side, holding each position for 10-15 seconds to stretch the muscles in your neck and upper back.
  • Cat-cow pose: Start on your hands and knees, then alternate between arching your back and rounding your spine, breathing deeply as you move.

Remember to listen to your body and avoid any movements that cause sharp pain or discomfort. If you’re unsure about the proper form or have a pre-existing medical condition, consult with a healthcare professional.

2. Heat and Cold Therapy

Applying heat or cold to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation in your upper and middle back. Heat therapy works by increasing blood flow to the muscles, which can help relax tension and promote healing. You can use a heating pad, warm compress, or take a warm bath to experience the benefits of heat therapy.

On the other hand, cold therapy helps numb pain and reduce swelling. Applying an ice pack or cold compress to the painful area for 15-20 minutes at a time can provide relief, especially if your pain is due to a recent injury or strain.

3. Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is another effective way to alleviate upper and middle back pain. A skilled massage therapist can target specific areas of tension and help relax tight muscles. If you don’t have access to a professional massage therapist, you can try self-massage techniques using a foam roller, tennis ball, or massage tool.

To use a tennis ball for self-massage, simply lie on your back with the ball placed between your shoulder blades. Gently move your body up and down, allowing the ball to roll along your upper and middle back, focusing on any areas of tension or discomfort.

4. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to alleviate pain and promote healing. While the thought of needles may be intimidating, many people find acupuncture to be a relaxing and effective treatment for upper and middle back pain.

During an acupuncture session, a trained practitioner will assess your condition and select the appropriate points to target. The needles are typically left in place for 20-30 minutes, during which time you may feel a slight tingling or warming sensation.

Yoga
Yoga

5. Yoga

Yoga is a gentle form of exercise that combines physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation. Practicing yoga regularly can help improve flexibility, reduce muscle tension, and promote better posture, all of which can contribute to reduced upper and middle back pain.

Some yoga poses that may be particularly helpful for back pain include:

  • Child’s pose: Start on your hands and knees, then sit back on your heels and extend your arms forward, resting your forehead on the ground.
  • Downward-facing dog: Start on your hands and knees, then lift your hips and straighten your arms and legs, forming an inverted V shape with your body.
  • Cobra pose: Lie on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders, then gently lift your chest off the ground, keeping your pelvis and legs pressed into the mat.

Remember to breathe deeply and move slowly, avoiding any poses that cause pain or discomfort.

6. Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is a non-invasive treatment option that focuses on the relationship between the spine and the nervous system. A chiropractor can use manual adjustments, also known as spinal manipulation, to realign the vertebrae in your upper and middle back, reducing pain and improving mobility.

During a chiropractic session, the practitioner will use their hands to apply controlled force to specific joints in your spine, often resulting in a popping or cracking sound. While this may seem alarming, it is a normal part of the adjustment process and is generally not painful.

7. Posture Correction

Poor posture is a common cause of upper and middle back pain, especially for those who spend long hours sitting at a desk or hunched over a computer. To reduce pain and prevent future discomfort, it’s essential to focus on maintaining good posture throughout the day.

Some tips for improving your posture include:

  • Sit up straight with your shoulders back and your feet flat on the ground.
  • Adjust your workstation to ensure that your computer screen is at eye level and your keyboard and mouse are within easy reach.
  • Take frequent breaks to stand up, stretch, and move around, especially if you have a sedentary job.
  • Use a lumbar support cushion or rolled-up towel to maintain the natural curve of your lower back while sitting.

8. Herbal Remedies

Several herbal remedies have been traditionally used to alleviate back pain and promote relaxation. Some popular options include:

  • Turmeric: This spice contains curcumin, a compound with anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Ginger: Like turmeric, ginger has anti-inflammatory effects and may be helpful in managing chronic pain conditions.
  • Boswellia: Also known as Indian frankincense, boswellia has been shown to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain in conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Before trying any herbal remedies, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your individual needs.

9. Essential Oils

Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts that can be used for aromatherapy or topical application to relieve pain and promote relaxation. Some essential oils that may be helpful for upper and middle back pain include:

  • Peppermint oil: This cooling oil has analgesic properties that can help numb pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Lavender oil: Known for its calming effects, lavender oil can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, which may help alleviate muscle tension and pain.
  • Eucalyptus oil: This oil has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that may help reduce pain and stiffness in the upper and middle back.

To use essential oils for back pain, you can add a few drops to a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil and massage it into the affected area, or add a few drops to a warm bath for an aromatherapy soak.

10. Epsom Salt Baths

Epsom salt, also known as magnesium sulfate, is a mineral compound that can be added to warm bath water to help relieve muscle tension and pain. Magnesium is known for its ability to relax muscles and reduce inflammation, making it a popular choice for those with upper and middle back pain.

To take an Epsom salt bath, simply add 1-2 cups of Epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for 15-20 minutes. You can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oils for added relaxation and pain relief.

11. Hydration and Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Staying hydrated and eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce pain and inflammation throughout the body, including in the upper and middle back. Some tips for maintaining a healthy, pain-reducing diet include:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your muscles and joints hydrated and flexible.
  • Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
  • Choose healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, nuts, and seeds, which can help reduce inflammation.
  • Limit your intake of processed foods, refined sugars, and saturated fats, which can contribute to inflammation and pain.

12. Stress Management

Stress and tension can contribute to muscle tightness and pain in the upper and middle back. Incorporating stress management techniques into your daily routine can help reduce pain and promote overall well-being. Some effective stress-reducing strategies include:

  • Deep breathing exercises: Take a few minutes each day to focus on your breath, inhaling deeply through your nose and exhaling slowly through your mouth.
  • Meditation: Practice mindfulness meditation to help calm your mind and reduce stress and tension in your body.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: Starting at your toes and working your way up to your head, systematically tense and relax each muscle group in your body, focusing on releasing tension and promoting relaxation.
  • Engage in hobbies and activities that bring you joy and help you unwind, such as reading, gardening, or spending time with loved ones.

How to Prevent Upper and Middle Back Pain?

In addition to treating existing pain, it’s essential to take steps to prevent future discomfort. Here are some tips:

  • Maintain good posture while sitting, standing, and walking
  • Exercise regularly to strengthen your back and core muscles
  • Maintain a healthy weight to reduce strain on your spine
  • Use proper lifting techniques, bending at the knees and keeping your back straight
  • Manage stress through relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation
  • Invest in a supportive mattress and pillow for proper sleep posture

By incorporating these preventive measures into your daily life, you can reduce your risk of developing upper and middle back pain and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.

When to Seek Medical Attention?

While most cases of upper and middle back pain can be managed with self-care and conservative treatments, some symptoms may indicate a more serious condition. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience:

  • Severe pain that doesn’t improve with rest or medication
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arms or legs
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pain accompanied by fever or chills

These symptoms may signal a more serious underlying condition that requires prompt medical evaluation and treatment.

2 thoughts on “12 Natural Remedies for Upper and Middle Back Pain

  1. Wow! It’s great exercises. Thanks a lot. I also can recommend a highly successful program of quickly remediating and resolving pain using a combination of DNS (Dynamic Neuromuscular Stimulation), ISM (Integrated Systems Model), myofacial release techniques, chiropractic acupuncture, and ESWT (Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy).

  2. Thanks John for your suggestions. I have been having serious upper and middle back pain.

Leave a Reply