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Upper Back Pain After Sleeping: Causes and Treatments

Upper Back Pain After Sleeping

Are you tired of tossing and turning at night with upper back pain in the morning? Do you also want to know how to treat it? You are at the right spot, then!

Upper back pain after sleeping may be caused by several reasons. It’s most common reason is bad sleeping posture, which could easily be corrected by just educating yourself about it. Here we will explain all the potential causes and solutions to this type of pain.

Reading this detailed article will enable you to get rid of this pain and help you finally get a peaceful sleep. Moreover, we have also shared the necessary precautions to prevent it from happening again. Stay with us as we start uncovering its causes.

Common Causes of Upper Back Pain After Sleeping

There are both general and medical causes of upper back pain after sleeping. Let’s check out the details of the causes of this pain.

Sleeping Position

The position you sleep in can significantly impact your upper back health. Your spinal cord may feel pressure due to an uncomfortable position and cause pain. It is more common among people who sleep on their stomachs.

Sleeping on your back or side are two safe positions to sleep. Let’s check out their details:

  • Sleep on your back and use a supportive pillow under your head and knees to maintain a neutral spine position.
  • While sleeping on your side, go for a thicker pillow and place one between your knees to ensure proper alignment of the spine.

Physical Injury

Unnoticed injuries sustained during the day can manifest as upper back pain during sleep. Sudden muscle damage like weight lifting, accidents, or other similar injuries can also be the cause of this pain. The pain may appear immediately or even after a very long time after these injuries.

Myofascial Pain

Myofascial pain syndrome can cause muscle pain and discomfort in the upper back region. It is usually called due to the excessive movement of the spine, knees, or hips. It is a chronic condition that affects our musculoskeletal system.

Bad Mattress or Bed

The quality of your mattress and bed plays a crucial role in preventing or causing upper back pain. Get a comfortable mattress. An extra-soft mattress can also disturb your spine position and cause pain.


Expectant mothers may experience upper back pain due to the changing dynamics of their bodies. Your lower and upper back muscles start straining during your pregnancy. This condition keeps getting worse with time. It can also be the reason for your upper back pain.


Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes pain and tenderness in your whole body. It also affects your sleep. It can also be the reason for your upper back pain.

Herniated Disc

A herniated disc in the upper back can lead to pain and discomfort. It happens when microscopic fragments break between your vertebrae. It causes strain on the spine, which often leads to back pain.

Treatments for Upper Back Pain After Sleeping

Now let’s take a look at the treatment options for this upper back pain after sleeping. It includes both medicated and non-medicated solutions. First, go for non-medicated options; if these don’t work well, then go for medicated solutions. Don’t apply medicated solutions on your own. Visit a doctor and follow his prescribed treatment.


Engaging in specific exercises can strengthen the muscles supporting the upper back. Here are some of the most effective exercises for upper back pain:

  • Thoracic extension stretch
  • Cat-Cow Stretch
  • Scapular Squeezes
  • Chin Tucks
  • Wall Angels

Over-The-Counter Medication

The next medicated solution is using OTC medications. You can use different medicines to reduce inflammation and painkillers. Following are some common medications that are beneficial for this purpose.

  • NSAIDs (ibuprofen)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Naproxen (Aleve)
  • Aspirin
  • Muscle relaxants (limited availability over-the-counter)

Topical Remedies

Topical remedies are also an effective, non-medical treatment for upper back pain. Essential oils can provide you with a lot of relief by soothing sore muscles and reducing inflammation.

Medical Intervention

For more severe cases, medical intervention may be necessary. We’ll discuss various medical approaches to address persistent upper back pain.

  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can be a valuable tool in treating upper back pain. It focuses on targeted exercises and stretches to improve flexibility and reduce discomfort.
  • Cortisone Injections: If physical therapy doesn’t work, the next option is the use of cortisone injections. These help reduce inflammation and relieve upper back pain.
  • Implanted Nerve Stimulators: In some cases, implanted nerve stimulators may be recommended to modulate pain signals. It is one of the most advanced solutions to upper back pain.
  • Spine Surgery: If nothing works, the last solution is spine surgery. It is a very common pain, but in very rare cases, surgery may be an option to treat it.


Here are some beneficial tips to prevent this pain:

  • Choose a pillow that supports neck and head alignment.
  • Invest in a medium-firm mattress for spine support.
  • Sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees.
  • Maintain good posture throughout the day.
  • Include neck, shoulder, and upper back stretches in your routine.
  • Regularly engage in exercises to strengthen upper back muscles.
  • Use a lumbar roll or pillow for lower back support.
  • Avoid sleeping on your stomach to prevent neck strain.
  • Keep electronic devices at eye level to prevent hunching.
  • Take breaks to stretch and move during long periods of sitting.
  • Adjust your work chair and desk ergonomics for proper alignment.
  • Apply heat or cold packs to alleviate muscle tension as needed.

Final Words

Upper back pain after sleeping is a common issue that is usually due to the wrong sleeping position. It could also be due to several other reasons. It is usually for a few days and could be easily treated with non-medicated remedies like exercise or essential oils.

If the cause of this pain is serious, like an injury, you should visit a doctor. He will examine you thoroughly and then suggest the best treatment according to your condition. Prefer non-medicated treatments if the pain is not severe.


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