Many people experience upper back pain at some point in their lives, whether as a result of intense exercise, poor posture, or injury.

Symptoms of upper back pain may include aching muscles and a stabbing pain in your upper back.

Many people believe large breasts are a cause for upper back pain in women. The theory is that the breasts’ weight strains the ligaments and muscles in the back, resulting in discomfort.

This appears to be a logical connection, though upper back pain is a common condition anyone can experience — regardless of sex or breast size. So, what does the research say?

The relationship between large breasts and upper back pain appears to be somewhat more complex, involving multiple other factors. But a limited amount of research has demonstrated a link between large breasts and upper back pain.

A small 2013 study of postmenopausal women (the majority of whom had overweight or obesity) did find thoracic (upper back) pain was associated with larger breasts. Some of the participants also wore improperly sized bras.

It’s likely that other factors, such as higher body weight or a pinched nerve, are additional primary contributors to upper back pain.

There are a number of causes of upper back pain. They include:

Upper back pain isn’t the only discomfort attributed to breast size.

A 2012 study examined the relationship between breast size, bra cup size, and pain in participants’ shoulders and neck. Researchers concluded large cup size was an important contributor to shoulder and neck pain.

A small 2008 study on breast size, bra fit, and thoracic pain in young women found 80 percent of participants were wearing the incorrect bra size.

What’s more, women with larger breasts were more likely to wear an incorrect bra size. It’s a common belief the wrong fit — and the poor posture that results from it — can lead to upper back pain.

Researchers said bra fit appeared to be unrelated to pain. However, if a bra was poorly fitted, it could impair its function as breast support. This could, in turn, cause certain levels of discomfort.

Breast size is commonly seen as a reason for upper back pain, as are improperly fitted bras.

Research shows that even though breast size isn’t the only determining factor in upper back pain, it can be a factor.

You can ease your back pain by strengthening the core muscles in your abdomen and back. Try these 10 yoga poses for back pain to get started.

Maintaining sufficient levels of vitamin D and calcium may also help ease back pain. A 2021 study found insufficient levels of vitamin D to be linked to nonspecific lower back pain.

There’s also literature showing that breast reduction surgery may lessen back pain by helping to allow for better posture. This is something you would need to discuss closely with your physician when considering the source of pain and treatments available.

If your back pain persists or increases in intensity, visit a doctor. The earlier you get a diagnosis, the sooner you can get treatment and relief.