While most people associate back pain with the lower portion of the spine, upper back pain can have a similar impact on quality of life, according to Santa Monica spine surgeons. Although muscle tension is a common cause of upper back pain, this part of the spine can also be affected by degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and disc herniation.
Muscular irritation is a common cause of upper back pain due to overuse or strain. This type of pain often responds well to some initial rest or, at least, the modification of certain movements to allow these muscles time to heal. If joint dysfunction is the source of thoracic pain, temporary immobilization with an upper back brace may be recommended.
Upper Back Exercises
A common source of upper back pain, the large muscles attaching the shoulder blade to the rib cage are often a source of pain in this area. However, the location of such muscles can make it difficult to keep these muscles strong, although the following exercises may ease pain from a lack of upper back strength:
- Shoulder rolls and stretches
- Latissimus dorsi (lat) pullovers
- Rotator cuff rotations
The upper back is especially susceptible to progressive injuries from long-term poor posture. Taking steps to improve your posture can help reduce stress on facet joints and adjacent muscles and tendons.
Anti-inflammatory medications are often prescribed to relieve upper back pain resulting from muscle swelling. Trigger point injections are sometimes used to prevent pain relegated to a specific area in the upper back.
Guided stretching and massage therapy are designed to alleviate tense upper back muscles that can’t be effectively targeted with exercise. Some patients also find relief from upper back pain with chiropractic manipulation and acupuncture.
Vertebral joints from the neck to the rib cage are naturally protected by the body, explaining why upper back pain in less common. Yet muscles and joints here can still be a source of discomfort. Surgery becomes an option when pain stemming from nerve compression doesn’t respond well to other treatments, there are bone or joint deformities, or when loss of function is experienced.
Learn more about treating back pain by reaching out to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. Our team of board-certified spine surgeons can diagnose the source of your pain and help you choose the best treatment option for your individual needs. Schedule an in-person consultation by calling (310) 828-7757 today.