10 potential causes of upper and middle back pain.
Written by Stewart G. Eidelson, MD
In order to get the best, most effective treatment for your upper back pain (also known as mid-back pain), you should understand what may be causing it. Your doctor can help you figure that out, but here are some common causes:
1. Poor posture: Sitting with a rounded back, shoulders hunched forward, can put too much stress on the back muscles. Poor posture is one of the leading causes of upper back pain because so many office workers spend their work days at the computer. It's easy to fall into bad habits of not sitting properly, especially when you're at your desk for so many hours a day.
2. Improper lifting: When picking something up, you should also use good body mechanics so that you protect your spine. Not using the proper form can cause injury and pain.
4. Carrying a heavy backpack: Kids are obviously more in danger of getting an upper back injury because of a backpack. An overly loaded backpack is dangerous to the spine, but so is not wearing the backpack correctly (eg, just using one strap).
5. Trauma/injury: Traumatic events, such as car accidents, can cause upper back pain for various reasons. It's possible to fracture a vertebra (spinal bone). Or part of your vertebra(e) can press on a spinal nerve, which can cause pain.
6. Infection: A spinal epidural abscess or a paraspinal abscess can compress the spinal cord or spinal nerves in the thoracic spine, causing pain and other symptoms.
7. Osteoporosis: This is a condition affecting the bones. It weakens them, making them more likely to fracture and less likely to carry your weight well. If you have osteoporosis in your thoracic spine, you may develop upper back pain. Weakened vertebrae don't support your body's weight as well, so your muscles, ligaments, and tendons have to work harder to make up for the vertebrae. That can lead to sprain, strain, or muscle fatigue.
If you have a vertebral fracture or fractures because of osteoporosis, you will probably develop a rounded back—that's poor posture, which can lead to upper back pain.
8. Problematic kyphosis: When looked at from the side, your spine is supposed to curve outwards in your upper back (thoracic spine) region; that curve is called kyphosis or a kyphotic curve. However, it can start to curve outward too much, and that's problematic kyphosis. Various conditions, such as osteoporosis, can cause problematic kyphosis in the thoracic spine, leading to upper back pain.
9. Scoliosis: Scoliosis causes an unusual curve or curves in the spine. It can make your spine look like an "S"or a "C" when viewed from the back. If your spine is curving to the left or to the right in the upper back (thoracic spine), you may have pain because of how the curve affects spinal nerves, muscles, and other soft tissues.z
10. Other conditions: Upper back pain can develop in conjunction with other medical conditions not related to the spine. For example:
- Acid reflux (GERD)
- Cardiac conditions, such as angina
Anatomical Structure and Upper Back Pain
The upper back (thoracic spine) is much more stable than the neck (cervical spine) and low back (lumbar spine). It doesn't move as much as they do because one of its main jobs is to protect the internal organs in the chest. It does this in conjunction with the ribs, which are attached to the thoracic vertebrae.
Because the thoracic spine doesn't move as much, it's less prone to the joint and disc problems that more commonly affect the neck and low back. That doesn't mean that you can't have a herniated disc causing your upper back pain, but it is much less common.
It's also less common to have degenerative problems in the thoracic spine. The neck and low back move more, so the joints and discs may wear out sooner from use, overuse, and misuse.
Whether you're a current chiropractic patient or just considering becoming one, low back pain may be the reason why. Nearly 80 percent of adults experience at least one episode of low back pain during their lifetime, and for many, the pain can recur and/or become chronic.
Fortunately, the research continues to suggest spinal manipulation (chiropractic adjustments) is a primary treatment option to get rid of the pain.
Case in point: a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, no less, that reviewed 15 studies and found spinal manipulation reduced pain and improved function after six weeks of treatment. The benefits were similar to those achieved with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), common over-the-counter pain relievers that come with a long list of potential side effects, particularly if used for more than a short time.
These findings are particularly important because as we've discussed several times in recent issues, managing pain with drugs – particularly opioids – has become a dangerous epidemic, and health care providers of all types are increasingly appreciating the value of nondrug care for back pain. In fact, the American College of Physicians' new guidelines on low back pain recommend spinal manipulation among the nonpharmaceutical options that should be tried first, before resorting to medication. Talk to your doctor for more information.
Getting a massage may seem like a relaxing and indulgent way to spend an hour or so of your time. However, massage therapy has many more benefits than simple relaxation. With help from your chiropractor, massage therapy can treat many conditions and help you get back on your feet. Find out more about massage therapy with Dr. Trek Smith at Back to Health Chiropractic in Brunswick, GA.
What does massage therapy include?
While chiropractors are famous for treating the bones in the back, they also offer massage therapy. This type of therapy focuses on treating the muscles in the body. Massage therapy, which targets the top layers of muscles, encourages the flow of fluids within the muscular system. Massage therapy uses a hands-on approach to manipulating the body’s muscles.
What can massage therapy do for me?
Massage therapy has many medical benefits, including:
- increasing blood flow
- reducing anxiety
- boosting immunity
- relieving headache pain
- improving the condition of the skin
- helping aid in healing sore, tired, or damaged muscles
Using massage therapy alongside traditional chiropractic treatments like spinal manipulation can help balance out treatment plans for various ailments. Tightened or damaged muscles can pull the musculoskeletal system out of alignment. Massage therapy can relax these muscles, helping spinal alignments become more effective.
Massage Therapy in Brunswick, GA
Massage therapy is normally suitable for patients of all ages with a wide variety of conditions. Massage therapy can benefit anyone from athletes to expectant mothers. Almost all cases of muscle inflammation, muscle soreness and decreased range of motion can benefit from massage therapy. Additionally, patients suffering from sciatica, scoliosis, conditions affecting the nerves or even carpal tunnel syndrome can benefit from massage therapy. Consult with your doctor to come to a conclusion on the best course of action for your muscle problem and determine if massage therapy is right for you.
For more information on massage therapy, please contact Dr. Trek Smith at Back to Health Chiropractic in Brunswick, GA. Call (912) 466-9945 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Smith today!
Here's one more reason to exercise: Physical inactivity contributes to chronic musculo-skeletal pain, which affects the muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones. People with chronic conditions such as back pain, arthritis, or neck pain suffer daily through pain, fatigue, and even depression, and more people are falling victim every day. In fact, some experts have characterized the increasing prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions as an epidemic.
According to a 2008 study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, a connection exists between physical inactivity and chronic musculoskeletal complaints (MSCs). Study participants responded to questions regarding their physical activity 11 years prior to experiencing any MSCs. The researchers concluded, "In this large-scale population-based study, physical exercise was associated with lower prevalence of chronic MSCs, in particular chronic widespread MSCs [>15 days during the last month]. Furthermore, consistent medium activity level [120-179 min./week] was associated with [a] more than 50% lower prevalence of chronic widespread MSCs." (If you'd like to review the abstract of the BMC study, visit: www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2474/9/159.)
There you go - the latest in an ever-growing list of reasons to make exercise a part of your weekly routine. And remember, a consistent, balanced fitness program of cardio, muscle strengthening and stretching will do more than help in the prevention of chronic pain; it could also help prevent other serious conditions such as heart disease and hypertension.
As most people know, regular exercise and an active lifestyle are essential for staying healthy and maintaining a healthy weight. Playing sports is a great way to stay fit while enjoying the benefits of a beloved activity, but along with the benefits, injuries are also a natural part of the equation. From muscle strains and tears to joint problems, active individuals can be at greater risk for injuries. Dr. Trek Smith, a chiropractor in Brunswick, GA, offers a number of adjustments and treatment options for sports injuries and orthopedic conditions.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Common Sports Injuries in Brunswick, GA
Some sports and physical activities are more likely to lead to strains and injuries than others. According to Men's Fitness, some of the most common sports injuries include:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Ankle strain
- ACL strains/tears
- Tennis elbow
- Low back pain
- Quad and hamstring pulls/tears
An injury like hip bursitis or even a case of plantar fasciitis can affect the body's alignment, adding additional strain and pressure on joints, the supporting muscles and connective tissue and the lower back. Because many sports injuries are caused by repetitive movements and overuse, like repeatedly practicing a tennis serve or running for miles and miles on hard surfaces, practicing proper form, strength training and maintaining flexible, loose muscles through stretching are key to avoiding pain or an injury.
A chiropractor can help by designing a program of adjustments and training to keep the muscles strong enough to support the joints and flexible enough to help prevent common strains and tears. Typical chiropractic treatments include everything from massage therapy to spinal and joint adjustments.
Find a Chiropractor in Brunswick, GA
If you are suffering from a sports injury or dealing with chronic back pain, contact Back to Health Chiropractic by calling (912) 466-9945 to learn more about your treatment options and to schedule an appointment with Dr. Smith today.
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