When you have burning upper back pain there are three common possibilities to consider:
Other possibilities would include pleurisy, cardiac pain, and pain from gastro-esophageal reflux disease which are discussed in my article about Burning Back Pain.
Less common but more serious considerations must include back pain that is caused by lung cancer, herpes zoster, or a vertebral fracture. You can read more about these conditions at Lung Cancer And Back Pain and Back And Abdominal Pain.
Some of the more common causes of burning upper back pain would include poor posture and repetitive strain types of injuries. These are often seen in people who work in a stressful environment and sit at a desk or other restricted surroundings for long hours at a time.
Fortunately, this type of pain can often be relieved with simple exercises, taking mini-breaks, and organizing your work station.
"determine what may be causing your pain"
When trying to determine an appropriate back pain treatment and what may be causing your burning back pain, begin by asking yourself a series of questions:
Next you can have a friend help you or use a mirror to examine your back and posture.
Image thanks to Mikael Haggstrom via Wikimedia Commons
Take a close look at the skin:
How is your posture when you are standing up?
"The most common cause"
The most common cause of burning upper back pain is muscle pain. This may be from a back injury such as a muscle strain, or muscle pain from poor posture.
Fortunately the most common cause is also the most benign, and can be effectively treated with conservative treatments like exercise, postural correction, and gentle stretching.
"it will probably resolve with a few days rest"
If your pain began suddenly after a long day of working in the yard, it will probably resolve with a few days rest and over the counter pain medication. Sometimes excess activity can cause myofascial trigger points in the upper back muscles.
Trigger points are areas of spasm like activity in small distinct areas of a larger muscle. These can be very painful and tender, and difficult to treat. They can develop into a very localized, self sustaining cycle of pain that may last for months.
Quicker back pain relief of your burning upper back pain is often possible with deep tissue massage, or injection with some combination of steroids and local anesthetic. Physical therapists will often use ultrasound treatments in conjunction with massage.
"more difficult to cure"
Postural problems causing burning upper back pain are more difficult to cure and respond slower to standard back pain treatments. You can begin to help yourself by checking the position of your body periodically through the day.
Do you spend time hunched over a keyboard, squinting at a monitor that is too low? Does your yard require a lot of maintenance? Do you spend endless hours bent over pulling weeds or planting flowers?