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What's Causing My Upper Back Pain After Sleeping?

What's Causing My Upper Back Pain After Sleeping?

 Do you often wake up with upper back pain after sleeping?

It’s actually quite common, but few actually ever address it. To that end, no one really is able to get to the root cause nor do they find an effective way to manage past trying to shake it off as they go about their day.

In this article, we’re breaking down all the reasons behind upper back pain after sleep and introduce a practical solution: the Dr. Arthritis posture corrector. 

What's Causing My Upper Back Pain After Sleeping? 

Upper back pain may arise from a variety of sources, including poor posture, muscle overuse, traumatic injuries, or medical conditions like a herniated disk. In some instances, it could be a symptom of more serious issues like lung cancer, osteoarthritis, or a spinal infection. Understanding the underlying cause is key to effective treatment. 

Anatomy of the Upper Back

Anatomy of the upper back

The upper back, or thoracic spine, comprises 12 bones, starting from the base of the neck and ending just below the ribcage. Pain can occur anywhere between these bones, affecting various parts of the upper back.

Exploring Common Causes of Upper Back Pain

Doctors often refer to upper back pain as thoracic spine pain or TSP. Let's look into some common causes:

what's causing my upper back pain after sleeping?

Muscle Deconditioning and Poor Posture

Poor posture, especially when combined with a sedentary lifestyle, can lead to muscle weakness in the upper back. Slouching over a desk, for instance, may weaken these muscles, increasing the risk of strains and altering the curvature of the thoracic spine. This weakened state can lead to more pronounced pain upon waking. 

Muscle Overuse

Repeatedly overusing back muscles can cause upper back pain. This overuse could be due to:

  • Throwing movements in sports, like pitching in baseball.
  • Repetitive lifting with poor form.
  • Continuous twisting motions in the upper body.

Continuous strain without proper recovery can result in muscle tightness and irritation, which become more evident after a night's rest.

Traumatic Injury

Injuries from car accidents falls, work-related incidents, or incorrect lifting can cause back pain. Sometimes, the pain is immediate, while in other cases, it might develop later.

Such injuries can have severe consequences, including chronic pain, nerve damage, or even paralysis. This pain can be particularly acute in the morning as the body stiffens overnight.

Herniated Disc

While more common in the lower back, herniated discs can also occur in the upper back. These discs act as cushions between the vertebrae, and when they protrude, they can press on the spine, causing significant pain. Even minimal disc protrusion can lead to significant pain, especially in the morning.

Pinched Nerve

A severely herniated disc may compress nearby nerves. This can lead to symptoms like numbness and weakness in the arms or legs, problems with bladder control, or leg weakness. A pinched nerve can lead to pain and discomfort that is particularly noticeable in the morning due to the body's inactivity and certain sleeping positions during the night.


An abnormal sideways curvature of the spine, scoliosis can stretch and irritate nerves, altering spinal disc placement, which in turn causes pain. It is especially pronounced after long periods of inactivity, such as sleep, and can lead to sharp pain in the morning.


Sometimes, the back pain originates not from the muscles but from bone and joint issues. Osteoarthritis, common in older adults, involves the wearing down of cartilage, leading to bones rubbing together and putting pressure on spinal nerves. The inactivity during sleep can exacerbate the stiffness and pain associated with this condition causing most to wake up with upper back pain after sleeping.

Myofascial Pain

This type of pain originates from the connective tissue in the back and can persist long after an initial injury or overuse. Chronic myofascial pain can be more noticeable in the morning due to the prolonged period of inactivity during sleep, which can exacerbate the sensation of stiffness and discomfort.

Spinal Infection

Although rare, infections like a spinal epidural abscess can cause upper back pain. Due to the body's inactivity during sleep and the pressure exerted on the spine in certain sleeping positions, the discomfort tends to be more pronounced in the morning after waking up. Note that these abscesses, which are collections of germs and pus, need prompt medical treatment to avoid serious complications.


For those with fibromyalgia, the widespread pain and sensitivity can lead to a heightened sensation of discomfort in the morning, as the body's inactivity during sleep can amplify pain sensations.

Preventing Upper Back Pain 

Preventative measures for morning upper back pain include maintaining good posture throughout the day, taking breaks to stretch when sitting for long periods, warming up properly before exercise, and using correct lifting techniques. Strengthening exercises with a physical therapist can also be beneficial.

For relief, treatment options vary based on the underlying cause. Muscle strains might respond well to stretching and improved posture, while chronic conditions might require medical intervention. Over-the-counter pain relief can provide temporary respite, but it's essential to consult a doctor for persistent or severe pain.

That said, upper back pain after sleeping is often a result of lifestyle habits, overuse, injuries, or medical conditions. Addressing these early on by consulting a trusted physician and getting advice on how to treat underlying factors through lifestyle changes, exercise, and medical consultation can help alleviate this discomfort.

Manage Upper Back Pain After Sleeping With the Dr. Arthritis Posture Corrector

The Dr. Arthritis Posture Corrector has garnered significant acclaim, particularly for its medically-minded design and efficacy in managing upper back pain after sleeping. cites it as one of the ‘Best Posture Correctors for Seniors’ while both VeryWellHealth and ranks it among the Best Posture Correctors for 2023.

prevent upper back pain after sleeping

Engineered with the user's comfort and therapeutic needs in mind, it offers a non-invasive solution for those experiencing upper back pain, especially upon waking. Here are some of the product's notable features:

  • Medically-Minded Design: Developed with insights from medical doctors, the posture corrector is tailored to provide the necessary support to realign the spine and reduce the strain on the back muscles.
  • Adjustability: It comes with fully adjustable straps that make it a versatile fit for various body types, ensuring a snug yet comfortable fit that can be worn throughout the day or during specific activities.
  • Ease of Use: Although it may take a bit of practice to put on initially, its design facilitates ease of use once the user gets accustomed to it.
  • Support for Sensitive Necks: The posture corrector is designed to avoid pressure on the neck, making it ideal for individuals with neck sensitivity, which is a common concern for many posture devices.
  • Durability: Made with high-quality materials, it is built to last and withstand regular use, making it a reliable tool in the management of upper back pain.
  • Discreetness: The slim profile of the Dr. Arthritis Posture Corrector allows it to be worn under clothing without being conspicuous, offering discretion for users. 

dr. arthritis posture corrector for upper back pain

By encouraging the proper alignment of the spine and shoulders, the Dr. Arthritis Posture Corrector helps to cultivate good posture habits that can prevent the onset of pain after sleep. Regular use can potentially strengthen the upper back muscles, reduce the likelihood of muscle strain, and contribute to a more restful night's sleep free of discomfort. For individuals who wake up with upper back pain, incorporating this posture corrector into their daily routine could be a step towards a pain-free morning and improved overall spinal health.



If you want to learn more about managing back and posture issues, be sure to read our other posts on the subject below:

The Best Neck Hump Corrector: Detailed Reviews, Benefits, and Purchase Guide 

The Science of Neutral Posture: Importance, Benefits, and Techniques for Optimal Alignment

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