Alternative and Complementary Treatments for Upper Back Pain


Various alternative and complementary treatments can be used to help relieve upper back pain. These treatments can often be used in conjunction with conventional medical treatments for upper back pain; however, it is always wise to consult a health care professional before incorporating any new treatment into a pain management plan.

  • Acupuncture
    During an acupuncture session, the practitioner inserts fine needles into specific points on the body. This is thought to balance the energy force, known as Qi, in the body, which is believed to promote healing. Acupuncture may also cause the body to release pain-relieving chemicals in the brain, such as endorphins and serotonin.
  • Acupressure
    Acupressure is similar to acupuncture, but it involves the practitioner applying pressure to specific areas on the body, using their fingers, thumbs, palms, or elbows. An example of an acupressure point for upper back pain is the groove in between the fourth finger and the pinky finger.
  • Massage therapy
    A massage can help reduce muscle tension and improve circulation. It can also remove the buildup of acids or other waste products that may exacerbate pain. Types of massage that may help with upper back pain include deep tissue massage, Swedish massage, and Shiatsu massage. Self-massage with a foam roller or ball may also help reduce upper back pain.
  • Chiropractic treatment
    A chiropractor can use spinal manipulation or mobilization to maneuver the spine in ways that improve mobility and reduce pain.
  • Yoga
    Yoga involves doing specific poses while focusing on breathing and meditation. In addition to improving flexibility and reducing neck and upper back pain, it can also help with relaxation.
  • Relaxation techniques
    Since upper back pain can be caused or worsened by stress and tension, relaxation techniques may be beneficial. Breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation are two examples of relaxation techniques that may help.