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What is causing the pain in my left upper back?

Sometimes, the spine or back muscles can cause upper left back pain. Other times, the pain might not be related to your back. Pain that radiates up to your upper back can be caused by organs such as the kidneys or pancreas.

It all depends on what is causing the pain. You might feel a dull, constant ache or a sudden, sharp pinch. It can be temporary or permanent depending on how active you are.

Sometimes, minor upper back pain can be treated on its own. If the pain is chronic, however, it may persist until you seek treatment.

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Back Structure

Because the back is so complex structurally, pain can come from many different places and problems.

The spine can be divided into three sections, which run from the skull to the tailbone. Each section is made up of a stack or vertebrae.

The cervical spine is the top portion that runs along the backside of the neck. The lumbar spine is the bottom section that connects the tailbone to the spinal column.

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The spinal column’s middle section connects the cervical, lumbar and 12 vertebrae. These vertebrae together are known as the thoracic spinal. The upper back is the area that we recognize as the cervical spine.

Upper left back pain: Causes

An injury, a pain disorder or a problem with an organ could cause upper left back pain. There are many possible causes.

Muscle strain

A muscle strain refers to a tear in or stretch of a muscle. Upper back pain can result from a strain in the left upper back.

If you:

  • Lift heavy objects repeatedly
  • Overwork your arms or shoulders
  • Make a sudden, awkward movement

Some other symptoms include:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Cramps
  • Swelling
  • Moving difficult
  • Pain when you breathe
  • Herniated disc

The spine’s disks can become brittle from repeated use or extreme force. A herniated disc is a disc that bursts and then ruptures.

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You might feel upper back pain if the disc is located in the middle or upper spinal.

There are also:

  • leg pain
  • chest pain
  • upper abdomen pain
  • Leg weakness or numbness
  • Poor bladder control or bowel control
  • Scoliosis

Scoliosis refers to a condition in which your spine curves sideways. This condition usually occurs in adolescents during growth spurts. Levoscoliosis is a form of scoliosis where the spine curves towards the left. It is less common than scoliosis which curves toward the right.

Mild curves are not usually associated with pain. Scoliosis-related back discomfort is more common in middle age.

Other symptoms of scoliosis are:

  • Uneven shoulders
  • Uneven hips or waist
  • One shoulder blade sticking out
  • Legs or arms that are not straight
  • Off-centered head
  • It can lead to:
  • Rotated spine
  • lung damage
  • heart damage
  • Spinal stenosis

Spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the spinal canal. This is where the spinal cord is located. This is often caused by bone spurs, or bone overgrowth. Bone spurs are more common in those with osteoarthritis or scoliosis.

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You might feel pain in one side of your back if the narrowing puts pressure on your spinal cord and nerves. The affected nerves may be extending into your left side, causing pain on your left side.

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