Upper back pain is less common but can be just as painful as lower back or neck pain. The upper back is designed to support the upper body and neck rather than to twist and turn. You can get pain in your upper back from injury or strain or even from lack of use. Once you have isolated the cause of your upper back pain it will be more easily treated. The root causes of pain in the upper back are muscular irritation and joint malfunction.
What Is Joint Malfunction?
Joint malfunction is most likely caused by strain or injury to the joints between the ribs and the upper back. A chiropractor, an osteopathic doctor or a physical therapist can manipulate the upper back in order to loosen and also strengthen those muscles to relieve the strain and prevent future injury. As part of treatment you may also take anti-inflammatory drugs to cut down on the upper back pain. A steroid shot will probably not be used unless it is injected right at the point where the pain initiates (the trigger point.)
What Is Muscular Irritation?
If you suffer from muscular irritation it is most likely not caused by strain or injury but rather from lack of activity or poor muscle strength in the shoulder girdle which connects the scapula to the thoracic cavity. Upper back pain in this case can be alleviated by chiropractic care, acupuncture, deep muscle massage, physical therapy, and strengthening and stretching exercises.
Are There Other Causes?
A herniated or ruptured disk is one of the less commonly found causes of upper back pain. Of people who come in for a herniated disk treatment only 1 percent have problems in the upper back. Another uncommon cause for pain in the upper back is degenerative disk disease. Those who work long hours at the computer or at a desk are more likely candidates for upper back pain than the general population. Good posture would help to alleviate the problem as well as strengthening exercises.
Suggested Treatment Options:
1) Chiropractic care: Once scorned by much of the medical community, it is now a well-respected profession and may be covered by your insurance.
2) Physical therapy: As you strengthen your back, shoulders, and abdomen, you will suffer from less upper back pain.
3) Acupuncture: This ancient Chinese healing art is also becoming more popular in treatment of chronic pain.
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4) Deep muscle massage: A massage therapist trained in relieving upper back pain can be very useful.
5) The most serious cases of pain in the upper back may require medication for immediate relief.
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