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What’s Good For Upper Back Pain

Manage Or Reduce Stress

How to relieve upper back pain with exercises

Stress can trigger muscle tension and painful spasms, including in the back. If long-term stress or a traumatic event seems to have caused back pain, a person can try stress-relief techniques, such as:

  • Mindfulness meditation.One study showed that mindfulness-based stress reduction improved back pain. Mindfulness involves being aware of what the body is doing and using meditation techniques to assist with the pain.
  • Deep breathing. Taking deep breaths in and out for several minutes can calm the bodys stress response.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation. This involves tensing and relaxing muscles in the body, focusing on one muscle group at a time. Lying on their back, a person can start with their feet and gradually move up to the shoulders.
  • Guided imagery. This involves focusing on specific mental images to bring about a feeling of relaxation. One study found guided imagery and music helps with work-related chronic stress.
  • Yoga. Yoga focuses on particular poses and breathing and can help with relaxation, especially when practiced regularly. One review found yoga to be an effective stress management tool.

Many smartphone apps are available to guide a person through relaxation techniques and meditation.

The Ache Wont Go Away

Youve tried the DIY treatments, gotten massages, and maybe even bought a new mattress. If your upper back is persistently hurting, it mayvery rarelybe a sign of a lung tumor. The American Cancer Society points out that advanced lung cancer may contribute to bone pain. Weight loss, chest pain, and weakness are also signs of lung cancer.

How Do Doctors Diagnose The Cause Of Upper Back Pain

To diagnose the cause of your upper , 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 pain 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 weakness or ?

  • 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 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 osteoporosis 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

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What Causes Back Pain What Causes Stabbing Pain In Upper Back

Back pain causes are as diverse as they are common. The most common are muscular, skeletal, and disc problems. Despite their seemingly simple nature, these conditions can be very painful. Some of the most common cause of back pain is improper posture. You should always strive to sit with your shoulders over your hips. This helps to keep your spine in the proper alignment. When you deviate from this position, you put extra pressure on your back muscles, which may lead to muscle spasms and even a spinal stenosis.

Some of the most common back pain causes are as described above: a dull ache in the back that can radiate to the buttocks or legs. Although not all cases of back pain are as serious, there are a variety of symptoms that can be caused by back issues. A doctor can determine the exact cause of your back pain by asking about your symptoms and performing a physical exam. Sometimes an x-ray will be taken to check whether your bones are aligned properly and to rule out any broken bones. Unfortunately, x-rays cant detect if your disks and nerves have been damaged.

Preventing Pain And Injury

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Posture. Using correct posture and keeping your spine in alignment are the most important things you can do for your neck and back . The lower back bears most of your weight, so proper alignment of this section can prevent injury to your vertebrae, discs, and other portions of the spine. If you have back or neck pain, you may need to make adjustments to your daily standing, sitting, and sleeping habits and learn proper ways to lift and bend. Your workspace may need to be rearranged to keep your spine from slouching. Because extra pounds can make back pain worse, you should maintain a weight that is appropriate for your height and body frame.

Exercise. Regular exercise is important to prevent back pain and injury. A program of strengthening, stretching and aerobic exercises will improve your overall fitness level. Research has shown that people who are physically fit are more resistant to back injuries and pain, and recover quicker when they do have injuries, than those who are less physically fit .

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Youre Short Of Breath

Rarely, upper back pain may be due to a punctured lung, which can be caused by an injury. While it is less likely to be the cause of your discomfort, a punctured lung is something you need to know the signs of so you can take the right action. If the pain is accompanied by shortness of breath or severe pain taking a deep breath, seek urgent medical care, advises Dr. Chang.

How Does Vitamin D Help Osteoporosis

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus from the food you eat. So the nutrient is important for people with osteoporosis. Studies show that calcium and vitamin D together can build stronger bones in women after menopause. It also helps with other disorders that cause weak bones, like rickets.

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Seated Levator Scapulae Stretch

Targeted muscle: Stretches Levator Scapulae.Because of rounded shoulders and forward head position This is one of most effective upper back stretches because the Levator scapulae muscle in particular gets very tight from our cell phone texting and prolonged desk work.How to do it: Begin in a seated position and grasp the bottom of your chair with your right hand.Bring your chin in towards your chest and rotate your head towards the left shoulder. Then using your left arm gently push your head down looking towards your left armpit until you feel a slightly stretch along with right side of your neck.Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds.Repeat on the opposite side.Aim for 3 repetitions of this stretch on each side.

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Back pain causes are as diverse as they are common. The most common are muscular, skeletal, and disc problems. Despite their seemingly simple nature, these conditions can be very painful. Some of the most common cause of back pain is improper posture. You should always strive to sit with your shoulders over your hips. This helps to keep your spine in the proper alignment. When you deviate from this position, you put extra pressure on your back muscles, which may lead to muscle spasms and even a spinal stenosis.

Some of the most common back pain causes are as described above: a dull ache in the back that can radiate to the buttocks or legs. Although not all cases of back pain are as serious, there are a variety of symptoms that can be caused by back issues. A doctor can determine the exact cause of your back pain by asking about your symptoms and performing a physical exam. Sometimes an x-ray will be taken to check whether your bones are aligned properly and to rule out any broken bones. Unfortunately, x-rays cant detect if your disks and nerves have been damaged.

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It May Be Your Desk Job

Slouch much? Upper back pain is most commonly from poor posture, says Irene Tien, MD, emergency medicine physician with the Rowe Telemedicine Network. Sitting and staring at a computer shortens chest muscles and pulls on the muscles in the upper back. A lot of people get a muscle spasm between the shoulder blades as a result, she explains. Heres how to help your body recover from sitting all day long.

Exercise And Physical Therapy

Bed rest, which used to be what doctors advised for back pain, may do more harm than good. It could slow your recovery and cause new problems.

With acute pain, you should be able to start normal, easy activity, like walking, within a few days. After that, gradually ramp back up to your usual exercise level.

Strengthening both your abdominal and back muscles helps stabilize your spine. Pilates exercises build these core muscles. You can help prevent further back injury by learning — and doing — gentle stretching exercises and the right way to lift things.

Exercising in the water is especially safe for a sore back. The water supports some of your weight, which can make you more comfortable, and it offers gentle resistance, which builds your strength. Aquatic therapy can make you more flexible and lessen pain for chronic low back problems.

Yoga may help your flexibility, strength, and sense of balance. It’s good for stress relief, which will also help you deal with the pain.

Physical therapy focuses on managing or preventing injuries or disabilities. PT helps relieve pain, promote healing, and restore function and movement.

Your treatment plan may involve visits to a specialist called a physical therapist. They focus on easing pain with passive or active therapy. Examples of passive physical therapy include:

  • Manual therapies

Examples of active physical therapy include:

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How Is Upper Back Pain Diagnosed

Compared to other regions of the spine, diagnosing upper back pain can be especially complex because there are more potential sources of pain. The pain can originate from any of the ribs, internal organs, or muscles in the area. Although it may sometimes be impossible to find the exact cause of a persons upper back pain, the diagnostic process generally follows three steps to narrow down a likely cause.

The process begins with a thorough medical history of the patient. The doctor will want to know when the symptoms started and what symptoms the patient is experiencing. In addition, the doctor will want to know if there was a recent accident or injury. It is also essential to know the patients lifestyle and regular habits. Patient history is likely to provide the most reliable clues as to the underlying cause of upper back pain.

After the patients medical history is collected, a physical examination can help narrow down the cause of the pain. This process can include tests to see if specific movements exacerbate the pain.

Based on the information collected from the patients history and physical exam, the doctor may want to conduct diagnostic testing. Typical tests include:

Several other diagnostic tests may also be used, including:

Most diagnostic tests for upper back pain are performed to confirm a suspected cause, rather than make a diagnosis. An official diagnosis of upper back pain must consider the patients reported symptoms.

When Should You See A Doctor For Upper Back Pain

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Sudden pain in the upper back can be a sign of a heart attack. or go to your nearest emergency room for upper back pain when:

  • The pain radiates from your chest or also involves the jaw, neck, shoulder or arm.

  • You have other symptoms, including , anxiety, , , lightheadedness, weakness, or .

  • You have sudden crushing pain or pressure in the left upper back or shoulder.

You should also seek emergency medical care for upper back pain when:

  • You have new bowel or bladder problems.

  • You have a fever or chest or .

  • You have sustained a back injury, such as a blow to the upper back or a car accident, fall, or .

Most cases of mild upper back pain will resolve with home treatment. However, there are times when seeing a doctor is the safest option to make sure nothing serious is causing the pain. See your doctor when upper back pain:

  • Interferes with your sleep, work, or daily activities

  • Is constant or severe, does not respond to rest, or is worse when you lie down

  • Persists for more than two weeks despite home management

  • Occurs with , redness and swelling on the back, or , numbness or in the arms, chest or legs

  • Radiates or spreads to the arms or legs

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How Back Pain Affects Sleep

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Back pain is a widespread problem that affects an estimated 80% of adults at one time or another. It can make all types of daily activities difficult including walking, working, sitting, and lifting even lightweight items. Unfortunately, back pain complicates sleep as well, making it hard to find a comfortable position to fall asleep and keep sleeping soundly through the night.

Research studies have found that over half of people with lower back pain report sleeping problems. These negative impacts on sleep arise in people who have both sudden and short-term back pain and those who have long-term, persistent back pain.

People with pain tend to have fragmented sleep that occurs from waking up during the night. Upon waking up, getting back to sleep can be difficult because of ongoing aches and discomfort. Pain can also contribute to stress, depression, and anxiety, all of which can be detrimental to quality sleep.

Back pain sufferers can take a number of steps to try to feel and sleep better. Getting medical help for serious back problems may help reduce pain. Treatments depend on the cause and nature of a persons symptoms and can range from surgery to physical therapy to pain-relieving medications.

Upper Back And Shoulder Support Brace By P & J Health:

This discrete and light back brace for pain in the upper back rectifies rounding of shoulders and keeps the spine in correct alignment. The brace is easy to adjust and being a soft and cushioned brace, it is comfortable enough to wear during every day works and mild physical activities. It has a backpack-like design, and it is thus easy to slip on and off. At first, you should begin by wearing the brace for 30 minutes at a time, gradually increasing to 3 hours.

It must be mentioned that this back brace is not suitable for use during moderate to intense activities.

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Possible Complications And Side Effects

Knowing what treatment can help relieve upper back pain and understand how that treatment might affect your body is essential. Here are some potential side effects to be aware of:

  • The same exercises dont work for everyone. Make sure to consult your doctor before beginning a new workout to help relieve upper back pain.
  • Injection-based treatments may not always work and may cause swelling, bruising, and pain.
  • Having surgery comes with serious risks like blood loss, nerve damage, or infection. Also, surgery doesnt guarantee that the pain in your upper back will go away.

Other medications may have different side effects. Consult your health care provider about possible complications of any medications you might take to relieve upper back pain.

Prevention Of Upper Back Pain

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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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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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