Neck and Shoulder

Upper Back Pain Relief Options To Consider

Upper Back Pain Relief

When most people hear the words “upper back pain relief”, they immediately think of treatment measures that would alleviate pain in the neck and shoulder area. Ironically though, this area of the neck and shoulder is more correctly termed as the “cervical” region. The TRUE upper back is what is also called the “middle back” or the thoracic region (from T-1 to T-12). However, in terms of symptomatology, certain pains in the middle back may originate from pathologies in the neck. So that, in a way, it may also be correct to call treatment measures in these areas as “upper back neck pain relief.”

thoracic spine

Prior to institution of upper back pain management, it is necessary to determine the cause. Given that the region of the thorax contains vital organs, specifically the heart and the lungs, it is important to rule out conditions in these organs that could cause referred pain. A good example of this is angina or the symptoms of a heart attack, which may also manifest as neck and/or upper back pain.

In comparison to the lower back, upper back pain is not so common, most often occurring as a result of poor posture, a bad lifting position, or carrying heavy loads such as back packs. Other causes of pain include abnormal spinal curvatures, trauma or injury, infections or abscesses in the thoracic spine, and osteoporosis.

Pain Symptoms That Need Immediate Upper Back Pain Relief

Symptoms of upper back problems are related to strain, sprain or tension in the muscles and supportive tissues of the thoracic spine. Pain is the most common symptom, which may be elicited by deep breathing, sneezing or coughing. Upper back pain is more often accompanied by neck and shoulder pain. Other symptoms include muscle tightness or stiffness, spasms, and tenderness when the affected area is touched.

doctor massaging patients upper back

There are similarities in the treatment modalities for lower and upper back pain. First is the use of ice and heat therapy for the acute onset of pain. NSAIDs like aspirin and ibuprofen are also given pain and inflammation relief. Deep soothing topical preparations like mentholated rubs and capsaicin creams have also been helpful. Complementary treatments like acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation have also been effective in relieving upper back pain.

Capsaicin cream for arthritis

Exercises for Upper Back Pain Relief

Lower and upper back pain relief exercises are integral to treatment. In the case of the upper back, exercises help to strengthen the muscles in the thoracic spine and also helps in correcting spinal misalignment.

spine exercises

The main difference between lower and upper back pain treatments is that physicians do not give epidural corticosteroid injections to patients with thoracic pain. If injections are warranted, they are directly given to the area of pain or tenderness (known as “trigger point injections”).

It is a comfort for patients to know that upper back pain relief measures are available that would help alleviate pain and other bothersome symptoms.

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