Q. Both my parents have osteoarthritis. Does the pain in my upper back mean that I'm getting it too?
A. Not necessarily. Upper back pain has a variety of causes. Osteoarthritis (OA) is only one of many possibilities. Because OA has been linked to heredity, your symptoms may be the result of a cartilage problem that has been passed onto you through your family genes. Usually, people develop OA as they grow older. The joint changes that happen with OA are often described as "wear and tear," much like a machine that wears out over time. It is estimated that OA affects more than one-third of all people over the age of 60, and more than 80% of people over age 70. Your pain may have started from a strain to your upper back, poor posture, weakness in the muscles of your upper back, or even a problem in your neck. Your doctor can determine the cause of your upper back pain and help you find ways to ease the pain and prevent future problems.