Getting to the Root Cause of Your Upper Back Pain on the Right Side

Find the exact care you need, from exactly the right doctors.

Find My Doctor
a woman suffering from upper back pain on the right side

Upper back pain localized to the right side is a common patient complaint. It can result from muscle tightness, poor posture, injuries, joint and disc issues, and other musculoskeletal problems. This type of back pain can create stiffness, aching, tenderness and reduced mobility.

The Struggle of Living with Upper Back Pain

Here at Kaly, we know that localized upper back pain on one side can seriously impact your daily life. But you don’t have to simply tolerate the ache and stiffness – you can take control and find real relief.

We understand how discomfort and reduced mobility diminish your quality of life. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to provide the expert insights and resources to help you properly address upper back pain on the right side.

Pinpointing the Root Cause

a patient describes the upper back pain to her doctor

Our team of specialists can perform a thorough evaluation using advanced diagnostics to pinpoint the root cause, whether it’s a compressed nerve, muscle strain, joint irritation, or disc injury. You’ll receive a tailored treatment plan that goes beyond just the painful area to address contributors like poor posture, imbalance, and improper mechanics.

Upper Back Pain Right Side FAQs

Why Do I Have Mid Back and Right Side Pain?

Mid and upper back pain on the right side has several sources including muscle strain, poor posture, injury, referred pain from organs, scoliosis, and leg length differences. Apply ice packs, do gentle stretches, and take over-the-counter pain relievers for relief. See a doctor if the pain persists or worsens for proper diagnosis and treatment focused on the root cause.

What Could Be Causing My Upper Right Back Pain Under the Scapula?

Pain under the right shoulder blade can arise from muscle tightness, spinal issues like bone spurs or arthritis, connective tissue inflammation, and rarely, tumors or infection. Your doctor will examine you and may order imaging tests to pinpoint the cause. Typical treatments include rest, anti-inflammatory medication, ice/heat, and physical therapy exercises to strengthen the muscles supporting the scapula.

How Can I Alleviate Upper Right Back Bone Pain?

First aid with rest, ice packs, and over-the-counter pain medication may help right upper back bone pain initially. Long term relief involves building core strength with spine-sparing exercises from a physical therapist. Complementary therapies like chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture have proven benefits as well. For severe cases, prescription medications, injections, or surgery may be considered after conservative treatment options have been exhausted.

Is Upper Right Spine Pain a Sign of a Serious Condition?

While muscle tightness is common, severe upper right back pain can indicate spinal tumors, fractures, infections, or nerve damage. Seek prompt medical care if you have numbness, loss of bowel/bladder control, unexplained weight loss, or fever. Imaging tests help diagnose the problem and appropriate treatment can begin quickly, which is vital for preventing permanent disability.

What Might Cause Upper Right Abdominal Pain with Back Pain?

Inflammation or stones involving the gallbladder, pancreas, stomach, or liver can cause upper right abdominal and back pain. Seek prompt medical care if you have severe pain with nausea, vomiting, fever, or jaundice. 

Why Do I Have Upper Right Side Back Pain When Breathing?

Since your lungs span the entire area under your ribs, inflammation or infection of the lung tissue itself, called pleurisy, can cause painful breathing. Pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma exacerbations, pulmonary embolism, and even lung cancer can all produce pain with breathing as well due to irritation of the lung pleura.

What are the Causes of Severe Back Pain on the Upper Right Side?

While garden variety muscle strain accounts for many cases of back pain, several potentially serious medical conditions can also produce severe upper right back pain warranting prompt medical attention. Traumatic fractures of the vertebra from significant force or injury can damage the spinal bones and nerves, resulting in disabling back pain.

Spinal tumors, both malignant and benign varieties, put damaging pressure on the nerves as they grow within the confines of the bony spinal column. Infections in the spine, such as bacterial abscesses or fungal meningitis, generate inflammation and nerve irritation as well. Other alarming causes include hemorrhage into the back muscles, vascular compression issues, and spinal disc ruptures.

What Causes Right Upper Quadrant Pain Under Ribs Radiating to Back?

Right upper quadrant pain under your ribs that radiates into the right side of your back is often referred pain stemming from an abdominal organ like the gallbladder, pancreas, or liver. Gallbladder inflammation and gallstones are a prime example, causing sharp pain under the ribs that wraps around to the right upper back.

Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, similarly triggers pain that begins in the upper belly and can refer to the back. Peptic ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and gastritis cause stomach pain that can radiate to the back as well.

How Can I Treat Upper Right Chest Pain and Back Pain?

When chest pain occurs high up near your shoulders and also affects the upper back, pinpointing the exact origin is important for proper treatment. Muscular chest wall pain can initially be treated with rest, ice packs, heating pads, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. However, any chest pain should be evaluated medically to rule out serious causes like heart attack, pulmonary embolism, pericarditis, or angina pectoris.

Why Do I Have Lower Back Upper Buttock Pain on the Right Side?

Lower back pain localized to the right upper buttock region has several potential sources, both musculoskeletal and organ-related. Spinal arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and sciatic nerve compression often cause buttock pain due to impingement of the nerve roots exiting the lower spine. Piriformis syndrome, when the deep gluteal piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve, is another common culprit.

Referred pain from pelvic organs can also produce right upper buttock pain. Kidney stones, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis may all generate aching pain in this region.

What Causes Left Upper Quadrant Pain in Back?

The upper left abdominal quadrant contains organs like the stomach, spleen, pancreas, and left kidney. When these organs develop problems, left upper quadrant back pain can result. Pancreatitis causes severe abdominal pain that often radiates to the left shoulder blade region as nerves from the pancreas innervate the back.

What Causes Upper Back Pain and Fever?

Fever accompanied by upper back pain should prompt concern for an infection or inflammatory condition that requires prompt medical treatment. Spinal infections, including bacterial abscesses, discitis, and spinal meningitis, can all generate fever and upper back pain. Systemic infections like pneumonia, bronchitis or COVID may produce upper back muscle achiness as well.

Why Do I Have Shoulder and Back Pain on the Left Side?

The shoulder blade and upper arm directly connect to the upper back via the trapezius muscles and shoulder joints. Consequently, disorders of the shoulder itself can generate referred pain extending into the upper back/neck region, particularly on the left side. A shoulder injury such as a torn rotator cuff or frozen shoulder often radiates pain down the left arm and upper back.

Why Do I Have Upper Left Back and Neck Pain?

The neck’s intimate connections with the upper back mean neck pain frequently radiates to the left upper back, and vice versa. Muscle tension and poor neck posture are prime culprits, treatable with physical therapy exercises, massage, and managing anxiety. Stress and close work requiring prolonged awkward neck positioning commonly trigger upper back and neck pain.

Could Stress or Poor Posture Contribute to My Upper Back Pain?

Absolutely. Muscles under chronic tension from high stress and anxiety levels often provoke neck and upper back pain. This occurs because strained muscles do not receive enough oxygen and nutrients to function normally or relax appropriately. Eventually, they ache with fatigue. Stress also incites people to assume poor posture like slouching, which further strains the upper back muscles already under duress.

Poor posture also directly contributes to upper back pain in several ways. Slouching or looking downward shortens and weakens the muscles that support proper upright spinal alignment. This forces other muscles to overwork to compensate, resulting in imbalances and pain. 

Are There Exercises or Stretches That Can Help Alleviate Upper Back Pain?

Stretches focused on opening the chest and mobilizing stiff upper back joints help increase range of motion and blood flow. Low impact exercises strengthen postural muscles to improve alignment and support for long term relief. Yoga poses like the cat-cow stretch, cobra pose, and upper back rotations open up tightness while building core strength.

When Should I See A Doctor About My Upper Back Pain?

You should seek medical care if your upper back pain exhibits any red flags or warning signs of an underlying problem. Examples include upper back pain that awakens you from sleep, comes on suddenly, or continues progressing in severity. Associated symptoms like weight loss, fever, bowel or bladder changes, cough, abdominal pain, or limb weakness warrant prompt evaluation as well.

Constant aching upper back pain that persists daily for several weeks despite at-home treatments like ice, heat, OTC medication, and light stretching indicates a need for professional guidance to determine the cause and better treatment options. Many chronic conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia initially manifest with persistent upper back discomfort. Don’t delay proper diagnosis and care if your symptoms concern you in any way.

Our Mission to Empower You

doctor explains the x-ray result to his patient with regards to upper back pain

At Kaly, we know first-hand how debilitating right-sided upper back pain can become without proper diagnosis and care. But we also understand how empowering it feels when you have the tools and support needed to overcome chronic pain. We consider it our highest purpose to equip you with the knowledge and resources to find relief from upper back pain so you can thrive.

Take Control Today

Don’t wait – take the first step today. Call us to schedule your evaluation so we can partner with you on your journey to pain-free mobility and comfort.