Pain in the upper back pain and/or mid back is not as common than lower back or neck pain. The upper back is called the thoracic spinal column, and it is the most secure part of the spine. The reach of movement in the upper back is limited because of the backbone’s attachments to the ribs (rib cage).
Upper back pain is generally caused by soft tissue injuries, like sprains or strains, muscle tension caused by bad posture, or looking downward for long time spans (eg, texting, mobile phone use).
- Muscle spasm
- Tenderness to touch
What Causes Upper Back Pain?
An episode of upper back pain can be actuated by distinct moves and actions, including:
- Excessive bending
- Whiplash or alternative neck injury
- Lifting improperly
- Poor muscle tone
- Persistent movements, overuse
- Contact sports
- Carrying a load that is heavy
- Being overweight
Poor posture working at the computer for a long time without taking a break to walk around and extend, or in general can promote upper back pain. Both muscle fatigue and muscle pull, which often result from poor posture, can trigger the pain.
So What Can I Do About Upper Back Pain?
Usually, upper back pain is not a cause for worry; however, it can be uncomfortable, painful, and inconvenient. Also, if pain develops suddenly and is serious—such as from an injury (eg, fall)—and, certainly if pain and symptoms (eg, weakness) progressively worsen you should seek medical attention.
Generally, the next home treatments can help relieve back pain that is upper.
- Short term rest
- Mild Stretches
- Over the counter medicine, for example ibuprofen, (Motrin®), naproxen sodium (Aleve®), or acetaminophen (Tylenol®). Take with food, and don’t take more than the recommended dose.
- Use a cold pack that is commercially available or fill a plastic bag with ice and seal it wrap it. Apply to the painful area for 20 minutes every 2-3 hours for the first 2 to 3 days.
- Heat (after the very first 72 hours). After using moist heat, gently stretch the muscles to enhance mobility and alleviate stiffness.
Your physician may prescribe drugs, like a muscle relaxant or perform trigger point injections to greatly help break up muscle spasms. He or she may also recommend physical therapy to increase flexibility, mobility and alleviate pain. Other treatments your doctor may suggest include acupuncture and chiropractic care.
Most cases of upper back pain resolve in 1 to 2 weeks without additional treatment. When you’re able to perform them without pain restart your regular activities slowly. Don’t rush matters, however: you could interfere with your healing and risk reinjury.
As always, abrupt or severe pain ought to be dealt with promptly.
How Can Chiropractic Care Help With Upper Back Pain?
Chiropractic care may be a great way to control and relieve pain and swelling caused by upper back pain. Routine chiropractic care supplies patients with upper back pain treatment that is a safe, non-invasive, non-addictive alternative to prescription drugs or over-the-counter pain medications (OTCs), that are generally prescribed to patients to help them manage their pain and discomfort.
Chiropractors deliver a gentle, non-invasive, non-addictive treatment, called a chiropractic adjustment. Spinal adjustments reduce misalignments or joint restrictions in the spine and joints and enhance functioning of the musculoskeletal and nervous system. By enhancing spinal health, your system function and decreasing joint stiffness, your body gets the ability to better handle symptoms as well as naturally heal itself. Below are some of the health advantages chiropractic care can provide for patients with upper back pain:
- Reduced pain and discomfort
- Decreased inflammation
- Improved range of motion
- Improved flexibility
- Increased muscle tone and strength
Although pain and discomfort are most commonly reported along the neck, or the cervical spine, and the lower back, or the lumbar spine, the upper and mid back, or the thoracic spine, may occasionally manifest symptoms of pain and discomfort. The thoracic spine is the largest portion of the spine, consisting of 12 of the 14 vertebrae which make up the spine. Although it is also considered to be the most stable region of the spine, because the rib cage attaches to the thoracic spine, it’s not unknown for dysfunction to affect the upper and mid back regions of the spine, from time to time. Chiropractic care can help treat upper back pain utilizing spinal adjustments and manual manipulations to carefully realign the spine and restore the natural integrity of the spine.
According to statistics, approximately 80% of people will experience symptoms of back pain at least once throughout their lifetimes. Back pain is a common complaint which can result due to a variety of injuries and/or conditions. Often times, the natural degeneration of the spine with age can cause back pain. Herniated discs occur when the soft, gel-like center of an intervertebral disc pushes through a tear in its surrounding, outer ring of cartilage, compressing and irritating the nerve roots. Disc herniations most commonly occur along the lower back, or lumbar spine, but they may also occur along the cervical spine, or neck. The impingement of the nerves found in the low back due to injury and/or an aggravated condition can lead to symptoms of sciatica.
To see if chiropractic care is ideal for your condition, chiropractors will execute a consultation and examination if necessary and they may refer you for diagnostic imaging, such as x-ray or MRI. Dependent on the findings of the chiropractic exam and appointment, your doctor of chiropractic may decide to co-treat your back pain with other healthcare professionals, including other primary care physicians, physical therapists or massage therapists. The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic as well as to spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
Composed by Stewart G. Eidelson, MD