Upper Back Pain Treatment


The cervical spine is more commonly known as the neck region, beginning at the base of the skull and connecting to the thoracic region of the spine.

It consists of the C1-C7 cervical vertebrae, and it includes the surrounding nerves, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The first cervical vertebrae is known as the atlas and is different from the next six because it is ring-shaped. It rotates on the second vertebrae, the axis, allowing it to have a 180° rotation movement. Another commonly used name for upper (cervical) back pain is Cervicalgia.

Treatment Options

Treatment options may include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Artificial disc replacement
  • Cervical fusion
  • Pain medications
  • Physical or Chiropractic Therapy
  • Steroid Injections
  • Surgery (discectomy)
  • Therapeutic Message
  • Medial Branch Blocks
  • Medial Branch Radiofrequency Ablation


Symptoms include:

  • Decreasing muscle tone in the arms and/or hands
  • Decreasing dexterity of the hands
  • Muscle spasms in the legs
  • Numbness and or weakness in the upper extremities
  • Severe headaches
  • Sharp neck or arm pain
  • Shooting pain or tingling in the arms and/or hands
  • Stiff neck


Diagnostic tests include:

  • Bone scan
  • CAT scan
  • Electromyogram and Nerve Conduction Studies (EMG/NCS)
  • Medical history (helps assess severity in condition of pain)
  • MRI
  • Myelogram
  • Neurological exam
  • Physical examination


Common forms include:

  • Cervical Spondylosis (Arthritis of the Neck)
  • Cervical degenerative disc disease
  • Cervical Stenosis
  • Fractures
  • Herniated disc
  • Spinal alignment


Causes & contributing factors may include:

  • Aging
  • Arthritis
  • Cervical disc degeneration
  • Cancer or Meningitis (rare)
  • Injuries
  • Poor posture
  • Spinal cord compression
  • Stress from bending, twisting, turning, or lifting


  • Most people (nearly 2/3) will experience some kind of neck pain during their lifetime.
  • Although very rare, cervical back pain can be a sign of infection, cancer, disease, injury, or blood vessel issue.
  • A stiff neck is rarely serious and will usually fade or disappear without treatment.
  • Neck pain is usually unexplained, with pain sometimes lingering and sometimes quickly disappearing.
  • Neck pain accompanied by no other obvious problems is usually temporary and minor.

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