Upper Back Pain
While you may be tempted to treat your upper back pain on your own, or worse — ignore it, hoping it goes away on its own — you should never take back pain lightly. You may have just pulled a muscle while playing a game of pickup basketball or maybe you worked at the computer for too long. Even if the pain got you to rest your back a little, you may have a serious underlying condition that lead to your upper back pain. Get evaluated at Century Medical and Dental Center. Your back pain specialist always starts with the least invasive treatment recommendations once ruling out bigger problems that truly require advanced treatments. Call for an appointment today.
The upper back is designed to protect the organs in your chest and anchor the rib cage. It’s a strong area that isn’t usually as prone to injury as the neck or the lower back, but when pain in this area does happen, it can cause a lot of discomfort. Upper back pain can appear anywhere from the base of your neck to the bottom of your rib cage. It’s often accompanied by:
Also known as the thoracic spine, the upper back consists of 12 vertebrae along with muscles, ligaments and other soft tissue. Between each vertebra is a disc that separates the bones and absorbs shocks as you move. If you develop pain in this area, the back pain treatment experts at Century Medical and Dental Center evaluate your pain and provide the upper back pain relief you need.
Symptoms of Upper Back Pain
Pain in the upper back is often described as a pulling or burning sensation. It may seem either dull or sharp, and it’s often concentrated between the shoulder blades. Besides generalized pain in the upper part of your back, you may also experience muscle stiffness or tightness. Your whole back may hurt if you’ve been compensating for localized pain in the upper right or left side where an injury or pulled muscle occurred.
In rare cases, upper back pain could signify an underlying disease like cancer or arthritis More serious symptoms that should be evaluated by a doctor right away include:
- Loss of bowel o bladder control
- Sensations of numbness or tingling in your limbs, chest or abdominal area
- Weakness in your legs or arms
- Unexplained weight loss
- Pain that radiates to your lower back and down your leg
- Pain in the upper back that’s accompanied by a fever
- Pain that begins after a hard fall, car accident or sports injury
Causes of Upper Back Pain
The most common cause of upper back pain is poor posture, particularly if you sit at a desk in one position most of the day. Muscle deconditioning happens when muscles aren’t regularly exercised or stretched. Your back muscles and other connective tissues are designed to support your spine. When they aren’t functioning properly, muscular irritation or joint dysfunction occurs and back pain ensues.
Other possible causes of upper back pain include:
- Strain of muscles or ligaments. Sudden awkward movements or overuse injuries, such as repeatedly lifting objects overhead, can cause muscle spasms or pain.
- Traumatic injury. You may feel the pain from trauma, such as a car accident or a fall, immediately or several days after the injury.
- Osteoarthritis. Degeneration due to aging may lead to breakdown of cartilage in the spine and usually worsens over time.
- Disc problems. A fractured or herniated disc can trigger intense pain in the upper back.
Upper Back Pain Treatment
For effective treatment of back pain, an accurate diagnosis is needed. In addition to a physical examination, you may have to undergo imaging tests and blood work. Keep an accurate record of:
- When your back pain first started
- When the pain is worse
- What helps you feel better
- Any falls or accidents you’ve had that at first didn’t cause the back pain
The treatment that’s recommended depends on the severity of your symptoms and how much they’re interfering with your daily activities. Mild to moderate symptoms may improve with rest, modification of activities and hot or cold packs to help reduce inflammation. Over-the-counter pain medication also helps to relieve discomfort once your doctor rules out any serious complications.
Other Treatments for Upper Back Pain
Physical therapy is one of the most effective forms of upper back pain treatment. Professional physical therapists at Century Medical and Dental Center’s physical therapy clinic in Brooklyn rely on a variety of tools and treatments to relieve back pain, no matter what triggered it. The physical therapists offer education and hands-on procedures to relieve and prevent upper back pain. Therapy includes:
- Manual muscle manipulation
- Massage therapy
- Strengthening exercises
- Tips on correct posture
- Special exercises to increase your flexibility
- Electrical stimulation with TENS
- Lifestyle modifications such as diet and smoking cessation
More Invasive Pain Treatments
If you don’t get any relief after trying the least invasive forms of upper back pain treatment, your doctor may suggest more intensive treatments, such as:
- Epidural steroid injections
- Disc replacement surgery
- Spinal fusion
- Vertebral augmentation
- Spinal decompression
Our Downtown Brooklyn physician at Century Medical and Dental Center first try the least invasive methods of treatment for upper back pain. Your specific needs are always taken into consideration. Call today for an evaluation and appropriate treatment.