Pain in your upper back is usually an indicator of muscle overuse, injury, or the result of poor posture. Upper back pain is occasionally referred to as thoracic spine pain. Your thoracic spine begins at the base of your neck to the bottoms of your ribcage.
If you are suffering from upper back pain it is important to be evaluated by an experienced pain specialist. A pain management specialist will thoroughly evaluate your medical history and review your upper back pain history.
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The structure of your spine is divided into regions. If you are experiencing pain in your upper back your pain is located in the upper thoracic spine region.
Your upper back provides stability for your body, helping the rib cage protect the internal organs that lie within the chest. The upper back does not bear as much of your body weight as the lower back does but can still suffer from muscles strains and injury.
The thoracic spine is connected to your ribs and sternum making it a stable form in your body. Because of its rigidity it makes it less prone to injury. While the upper back is generally resistant to injury it can still suffer from pain caused by the muscles and not the spine itself (usually due to poor posture).
Pain symptoms that occur in your upper back are generally a result of muscular irritation or joint dysfunction. Muscular irritation can be caused from constant straining or tightened muscles that are unable to relax. Repetitive motions and lack of upper back strength contribute to this painful muscle irritation.
- Improper lifting of something heavy
- Sports injury
- Poor posture
- Lack of stretching
Joint dysfunction can occur from natural degeneration (such as age or health conditions) or a sudden injury.
Other examples of joint disfunction:
- Pinched nerves
- Gallbladder issues (gallstones can cause pain between your shoulder blades)
- Fractured vertebrae
- Herniated discs
It can be frustrating to experience upper back pain. Your functionality is limited and you cannot seem to find relief from your symptoms. Movement begins to feel impossible.
Symptoms of upper back pain include:
- Sharp pain
- An achy/throbbing discomfort felt in upper back
- Radiating pain
Upper back pain symptoms may start slowly and gradually before worsening. Sometimes pain in the upper back can have a sudden onset, or may even be delayed. Each patient is different, and their individual pain history may determine their pain experience.
Upper back pain caused by other factors:
Outside of injury or disc degeneration upper back pain can also be caused by other varying factors. These factors can include:
- Lack of exercise — If you do not engage in regular physical activity to build the strength of your back muscles you can risk injury.
- Overweight — If you carry a large amount of extra weight, you put additional strain on your back and its corresponding muscles.
- Underlying health conditions — If you are suffering from cancer or arthritis, you may have added pain symptoms.
It is critical for individuals to condition their muscles to be stronger and durable with regular exercise and a healthy diet. Taking regular breaks to stand and walk while sitting at work can help relieve the strain from prolonged slouching.
Regular stretching can also help your muscles from becoming tensed and knotted. For some patients suffering from chronic upper back pain can also regularly work with a physical therapist to keep pressure off their joints.
There are many different ways to treat your upper back pain. Your pain management specialist may recommend some simple home remedies, specific exercises, medications, and injections.
- Home Remedies — These may range from over-the-counter medication (like acetaminophen or ibuprofen), ice to reduce swelling, and heat to improve stiffness.
- Exercises — Physical activity that encourages stretching the muscles around your spinal structure, reducing strain on your upper back. Many people incorporate yoga into their daily routine.
- Medications — Prescriptions from your physician such as NSAID’s or muscle relaxants can help relieve upper back muscle pain. If the pain is severe enough your physician may prescribe opioid medication.
- Injections — Trigger point injections are a successful treatment method for the strained muscles in your upper back. A TPI delivers medication directly to the knotted muscle allowing it to relax and provide immediate relief.
In addition to treating upper back pain, Pain and Spine Specialists is able to successfully treat your middle back pain and lower back pain. We offer innovative and progressive treatments to manage your pain symptoms.
If you would like more information about how we can treat your upper back pain or our back pain specialists, please call Pain and Spine Specialists and speak to our dedicated team to improve the quality of your life. You can call (301) 703-8767 (Maryland Locations), (724) 603-3560 (Pennsylvania Locations), or (540) 433-1905 (Virginia Locations) and schedule an appointment today.
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At Pain and Spine Specialists, our team of physicians and nurse practitioners are committed to giving you the most effective treatment when treating your pain. We believe that all patients should have access to quality care, and that is why you can find us conveniently located throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.