Every now and then I suffer from pain in my upper back and my neck. It is terrible and it is entirely my fault.
I tend to have good posture when standing and walking but terrible posture when I am sitting at a desk. Which is a lot of time.
I find that one of the problems is weak back and shoulder muscles for most people and I have to admit that when I am stretching to work my upper back it does tend to work those muscles and bring a lot of relief.
Identify Why You Have Back Pain
Anybody suffering from pain in this area is likely to want to know about upper back pain causes.
Why do you have this pain and what might have brought it on? Of course, we cannot know about your individual case, and you should certainly consult with a doctor, especially if the pain is severe or if it does not resolve by itself in a few days.
In this article we will consider some possible upper back pain causes and what you might be able to do to solve the problem. First let’s look at what exactly is meant by the upper back, because this can confuse some people.
What Is The Upper Back?
The upper back is generally referred to medically as the area between the bottom of the neck and the bottom of the rib cage where the lumbar spine begins.
Some people might call the lower part of this area the ‘middle back’, but anatomically it all makes up one area called the thoracic spine.
Thoracic refers to the chest, so you can think of it as the part of the back that is roughly equivalent to the full extent of the chest at the front.
This part of the spine is very strong. It supports the whole of the upper body and gives vital support to the rib cage which protects the heart and lungs. Each of the ribs is joined to one of the thoracic vertebrae of the spine.
What Causes Upper Back Pain?
The most common upper back pain causes are irritation or inflammation of the muscles or ligaments that surround the spine. This in turn may be caused by various factors:
- Poor posture, especially while seated or using a computer
- Repetitive strain in people who are constantly moving their arms or upper back in a certain way, often due to their work (e.g. some construction workers or factory workers)
- Strain of the muscles due to weakness, especially in old age or in people who have been bedridden and unable to exercise
Other upper back pain causes include problems with the joints in the spine or a compression fracture of the vertebra. The latter is a break in the bone which may be caused by an injury such as a car accident, fall or sports injury, or may be due to osteoporosis, especially in post menopausal women.
I found this great video that has a bunch of neck stretches and this definitely helped me to loosen those tight upper back and neck muscles
In rare cases there could be a herniated disc or problems related to disease of the spine or the discs. However, these problems are more common in the lower back.
Upper Back Pain Treatment
If a muscle is inflamed due to straining without any serious injury, it will often resolve within 3-7 days. In the meantime, anti inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs may be prescribed. Massage of the area can be very helpful too.
However, in the case of repetitive strain, the pain may return when you repeat the same movements. So if your pain is associated with your work, you may need to investigate other options.
A chiropractor may be able to help by manipulating affected joints. This is more likely to be helpful where the pain has been caused by a specific injury or trauma.
You may also want to try other pain relieving measures such as acupuncture, ice or heat treatments.
If the problem is not solved in this way, it is important to consult with a doctor. You could have suffered an injury without realizing how serious it was, or you could have osteoporosis (brittle bones) or another disease.
Upper back pain causes are not always obvious so it is important to have medical attention.
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