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How To Treat Upper Back Pain

Middle Right Side Ribs

How to Get Rid of Upper Back Pain in 30 SECONDS

A rib cage is a group of bones that make up a protective cage around the lungs and other vital organs. It has 12 ribs, which are attached to the spine and sternum.

The ribs may be injured by serious trauma, such as in a car accident or sports injury. They may also be fractured by coughing heavily, or simply because of aging and wear and tear. Rib fractures usually occur in one or two places on each rib.

The pain that is felt when there is an injury to one of the ribs can be very intense, especially if it has been broken completely through the bone.

There might also be bruising of the skin where the bone has been broken and pain when taking deep breaths or coughing because it causes greater pressure on that part of your chest wall from within your body.

Back pain in the middle of the right side of your rib cage can be caused by a variety of different conditions. Some common causes are:

Pregnancy-related back pain Costochondritis muscle spasms Poor posture

Many adults have low back pain at some point in their lives. The muscles and other tissues around the spine can become tense and strained due to normal wear and tear, poor posture, stress, or injury.

This makes the muscles surrounding your spine feel tight or sore. Sometimes this pain is felt between, under, or near the shoulder blades.

The pain from back problems doesnt always go away with time on its own. You may need medical treatment to make it better and prevent it from coming back.

Types Of Back Pain: Middle Back Pain Vs Thoracic Back Pain

When it comes to back pain, one size doesnt fit all. Not only can pain occur anywhere along the spine or in the adjoining muscles, but it can vary drastically in intensity and frequency. Because the spine is the casing that protects the most important elements of the Central Nervous System, back pain of any kind can be a warning sign of damage that should be taken seriously. Left untreated, some causes of back pain can lead to permanent spine or nerve damage.

Types of Back Pain

Back pain of any kind can be either acute or chronic. If the pain is acute, symptoms are generally sudden and temporary. In chronic cases, however, the pain returns regularly, over timesometimes unpredictablyand can make everyday activities difficult.

Back pain can occur for a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • Muscle strains
  • Muscle injury
  • Narrowing of the spinal canal
  • Vertebral fracture
  • The natural processes of aging
  • Spondylitis
  • Degenerative disc disease

and more

The regions of the back and spine can be separated into multiple sections: the cervical region , the thoracic region , and the lumbar region . The middle back is a somewhat generalized term that refers the area below the ribs and above the hips.

Thoracic Back Pain

and others

Middle Back Pain

There are a number of elements that can increase a persons risk of developing middle back pain, including the following:

  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking

and more

Treatment of Back Pain
Weill Cornell Medicine: Comprehensive Spine

Prevention Of Upper Back Pain

The following tips may help to prevent you from developing upper back pain.

  • Lift objects safely and correctly by bending at your knees and not from the waist.
  • Make sure your back is properly supported when sitting.
  • If you wake up with back pain, a more supportive mattress that adjusts to your back and supports its various curves and hollows may help.
  • Take regular breaks from sitting for long periods of time and from doing repetitive tasks.
  • Practise good posture see our section on causes of back pain.
  • Exercise regularly see our FAQ on some specific exercises for upper back strength.
  • Learn and practise good technique for any sports youre doing.
  • Stop doing any activity that you know is causing your back pain.
  • Stop smoking it can speed up the degeneration of the discs between your vertebrae that act as shock absorbers.
  • If you are overweight, losing weight may help to reduce the risk of back pain.

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What Whiplash Treatment Is Available

The primary treatment options for whiplash.

The primary goals of whiplash treatment are to control pain and restore your range of motion, so you can get back to the normal activities of your daily life.

Medication. To reduce the pain of whiplash, your doctor may recommend one or more medications, such as:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers for mild to moderate pain
  • Antidepressant drugs, which can help relieve nerve pain people with moderate to severe whiplash pain
  • Muscle relaxants

Neck stretches. Gentle moves can ease stiffness and help you recover faster. These are a few your doctor or physical therapist may encourage you to do on your own.

  • Rotate your neck in both directions
  • Tilt your head side to side
  • Bend your neck toward your chest
  • Roll your shoulders

Physical therapy. Guided exercise and sometimes other treatments may help ease neck pain and strengthen muscles.

Soft foam collars. Doctors used to recommend soft foam collars to keep the neck still after whiplash injury. Now we know that prolonged rest can hinder recovery. The cervical collar may still be a good idea, but only for short periods of time.

Whiplash is usually treated without surgery, but you may need a similar neck collar.

Note that most of these strategies are primarily for people who have whiplash in the middle ranges of severity. If your case is very mild, you might not need treatment.

How To Treat Upper Back Pain

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Treating upper back pain may start with lifestyle interventions. These often include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Changes to proper posture
  • Changes to the diet to help maintain a healthy weight

Gentle exercises such as yoga and other complementary medical approaches can also help relieve upper back pain.

Other more interventional treatment options for upper back pain may include the following.

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What Specifically Makes The Chirp Wheel The Best Back Pain Relief Solution

The Chirp Wheel is patented and designed specifically for back pain relief and muscle relaxation. It can also be used to reduce tension headaches and relieve neck and shoulder pain. Every other solution is not cost effective, does not specifically target your back where it needs to, and can’t be easily stored.

Diagnosis Of Upper Back Pain

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine you. They may then be able to diagnose and explain the cause of your back pain or they may need to refer you for some tests. Upper back pain is often caused by muscle strain, but sometimes there might be a more serious cause. There are particular symptoms your doctor will look for that may indicate this. They call these red flags and they include:

  • a recent injury to your back such as a car accident or a fall
  • back pain caused by a minor injury or lifting something heavy particularly if you have osteoporosis
  • if youve had cancer or you have a weakened immune system
  • other symptoms such as a fever, unexplained weight loss and chills
  • a recent bacterial infection
  • if youre younger than 20 or older than 50

Your doctor will also ask you about the pain to understand how severe it is and what could be causing it. It can also mean a red flag if:

  • symptoms havent eased despite changing position or resting
  • youve had pain for more than two weeks despite having treatment
  • you have pain that you dont think has been caused by a sprain or strain in your upper back
  • you are very stiff in the morning
  • you have pain all the time and its getting worse

Your doctor may ask if youve had any weakness in your legs, or any bladder and bowel problems such as incontinence. This may point towards pressure on the nerves in your spine or spinal cord, which could be caused by a slipped disc or injury.

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Could Upper Back Pain Mean Something More Serious

There is always a chance that your upper back pain could be caused by a much bigger problem. Degenerative Disc Disease , a herniated disc, and osteoarthritis are possible underlying problems causing your upper back pain. Shapiro cautions that while pain should never be ignored, normal muscle soreness from exercising is nothing to be concerned about. He warns, however, that you should question intense pain that doesnt go away over time. If you notice symptoms like fever, chills, tingling in your chest or stomach along with your upper back pain you should see your doctor.

Sharp, shooting, radiating, severe, unexplained acute pain or chronic pain lasting more than a few days could be your body’s way of telling you that something more serious is going on, Shapiro says.

When You Should See A Chiropractor For Upper Back Pain

How to treat lower back pain

Although deciding when to see a chiropractor for your upper back pain will vary from person to person, there are some general rules of thumb you can follow to help you navigate through the process.

If you have some upper back pain, but it is not too severe and uncomfortable and goes away quickly, you probably do not need to seek treatment from a chiropractor. Pain that is not drastically affecting your quality of life and does not linger or come back on a regular basis can often be treated at home. Perhaps your posture is poor some days or maybe your upper body workout made you tweak a muscle. In these cases, you should be fine with some ice, heat, and over the counter pain medications for treatment.

However, if you are experiencing chronic upper back pain, it is getting worse, it goes away, but comes back often, and it is making your day-to-day life harder than it should be, you should consider making an appointment with a chiropractor to help get the issues sorted out.

Not seeking proper treatment will just make your upper back pain worse and cause more serious issues in the future. Your main goal should be to avoid more intensive and invasive treatments for upper back pain such as surgery, injections, and prescription pain medications.

Furthermore, if you have had a trauma to the upper back, seeking treatment immediately is imperative. Trauma cannot be treated at home and without a doctors assistance.

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Is It Possible To Prevent Upper Back Pain

It may not be possible to prevent all causes of upper back pain, but there are some easy steps you can take that may avoid some of the more common causes. These include:

  • Take regular breaks from sitting or lying down to stretch and move different muscle groups, so the muscles stay loose and strong.
  • Take a few minutes to stretch the muscles or warm up the body before any activities.
  • People who lift heavy objects should avoid twisting or lifting with their back.
  • Have regular massages to help work out the tension of the muscles.
  • Work with a physical therapist to strengthen weak muscles and keep pressure off the joints.
  • Avoid wearing heavy backpacks or purses.
  • Be conscious of posture at all times walk upright, sit correctly, and use back supports if necessary.

Upper Back Pain Exercises

Exercise is essential for upper back and neck health because it stimulates blood flow, which helps the discs in your back stay healthy. You can also strengthen the muscles in your upper back with particular exercises.

  • Arm Reach: Get down on your hands and knees with your neck and back parallel to the ground. Lift one arm at a time for five seconds without raising your head. Repeat each arm ten times.
  • Arm Slides: Stand against a wall with your back, elbows, and wrists. Raise your hands as high as you can while keeping your arms and wrists against the wall, then return to the starting position. Repeat ten times more.

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How Do Doctors Diagnose The Cause Of Upper Back Pain

To diagnose the cause of your upper back pain, your doctor will ask you several questions about your pain including:

  • When did your upper back pain start?

  • Can you describe your pain? Is it sharp, dull, achy or burning?

  • On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the worst pain ever, how would you rate your pain?

  • Is your upper back pain on the left side, right side, or both sides?

  • Is your upper back constant or does it come and go?

  • What, if anything, makes your upper back pain better or worse?

  • Are you experiencing any other symptoms, such as or numbness?

  • Does your upper back pain wake you at night or limit your activities during the day?

  • Have you ever injured your back?

  • What do you do for work?

  • Do you exercise?

Your doctor will also perform a physical exam, feeling your back for areas of tenderness or abnormalities. You may need to move your arms, reach in different directions, bend and change positions. Your doctor will want to know if movement affects your pain or if pain limits your movements. Your doctor may also test your muscle strength and reflexes.

In some cases, testing may be necessary including:

  • Blood tests to check your blood cell counts and electrolytes

  • Bone scans if or a bone tumor is a possibility

  • Imaging exams, including X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs

  • Nerve studies to evaluate how well your nerves and muscles are working

Anatomy Of The Upper Back Muscles

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The neck consists of seven cervical vertebrae, the building blocks of the spine. Each block is separated by a disc that sits in between and each vertebra has a facet joint on either side. The seventh cervical vertebra, referred to as C7, meets the first of 12 thoracic vertebrae T1 at the base of the neck, a point known as the cervicothoracic junction. This can be a common source of pain as the spinal curves transition from lordotic to kyphotic An increased kyphotic thoracic curve can result in you developing a prominent hunchback posture.

Each level of vertebra has a pair of nerve roots, one coming from each side of the spine. These nerve roots trail down to supply their corresponding portion on the arm. This is how referred pain can occur, if a nerve root is irritated or inflamed at the spine, symptoms can be felt in the corresponding region e.g. in the forearm or fingers. For instance, if you injure C7, you may feel pain in your index and middle fingers.

The shoulder blades, known as scapula, are responsible for the stability of the shoulder and forearm movement. They rotate, retract and protract and their movement patterning and stability can greatly affect your posture and arm function. If the muscles surrounding the shoulder blades arent functioning properly, you can end up with scapula winging where the shoulder blades stick out.

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Middle And Upper Back Pain

  • NSPC Team

Pain in the lower back seems to grab all the headlines and with good reason, given that 31 million Americans suffer from lower back pain at some time or another. But pain in the upper and middle back, known as the thoracic spine, can be just as debilitating as lower back pain.

The vertebrae of the thoracic spine connect to the necks cervical vertebrae and to the lower backs lumbar vertebrae . Given its location in the middle of the back, the thoracic spine provides the body with core stability and protects the vital internal organs of the chest, including the heart and lungs.

There are several reasons people may suffer from thoracic spinal pain. Muscle tension is among the most common causes and is often the result of poor posture. In older adults, arthritis in the thoracic facet joints can cause middle and upper back pain, as can compression fractures of the vertebrae due to osteoporosis. In younger patients, a spine segment or a rib can be out of place and cause pain. Other causes of middle and upper back pain include herniated or degenerated discs or problems with the joints that attach the ribs to the thoracic vertebra.

How is middle and upper back pain treated?

Facet joint injections, trigger point injections, epidural steroid injections, radiofrequency are minimally invasive procedures that can be performed in our offices in less than 15 minutes and often result in dramatic pain relief.

What Are Some Upper Back Pain Risk Factors

Say you havent seen the doctor yet about your upper back pain, but youre pretty sure its not an acute injury. After all, you havent taken up a new sport. Maybe you barely have time to exercise, much less overdo it.

Believe it or not, that actually increases your risk of back injury. When youre physically active, the muscles in your belly and backyour corehelp support your spine. If youre sedentary, you might have weak muscles that contribute to upper back pain.

Lack of exercise is one of several factors that can increase your risk of upper back pain. Others include:

Excess weight. Since your spine supports the weight in your torso, excess weight could stress your back. Belly fat, in particular, is a problem: If you carry a lot of weight in your midsection, it can strain the soft tissues in your back. Conversely, weight loss can reduce pain though research suggests it may be even more effective as part of a holistic strategy that includes pain management strategies.

Belly fat can contribute to upper back pain, but weight loss can help relieve it.

Psychological conditions. Experts arent sure why, but you might be more likely to have back pain if you have depression and anxiety. In fact, some research suggests that people who have depression have worse back pain than people without depression.

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