Understanding, Preventing and Treating Common Upper Back Injuries
If you’ve ever struggled to climb out of bed after a day of helping a friend move, or you’ve noticed that it’s harder to lift your arms after a particularly intense workout, then you know that upper back pain is more than just a nuisance. Now imagine feeling that pain every day for weeks or even years, and you’ll understand why it’s important to care for upper back injuries as soon as they take place.
Upper back injuries are less common than neck or lower back injuries, because the upper back is not nearly as mobile as other areas of the spine. This is because the upper back consists of 12 vertebrae that are connected to the ribs, and they play an important role in protecting your internal organs. But when an upper back injury does happen, it can be debilitating.
If you’re currently suffering from upper back pain, an experienced chiropractor like Dr. Rush can help you find relief and prevent future injuries. And whether you’re currently dealing with an injury or just want to learn how to prevent one in the future, here’s a guide to everything you need to know about upper back pain:
What Causes Upper Back Pain?
The upper back does not support as much body weight as the lower back, so injuries from daily wear and tear don’t happen as frequently. However, there is still a wide spectrum of injuries that commonly affect the spine and the muscles and ligaments supporting it.
Common upper back injuries include:
- Fractured Vertebra: This typically happens in a traumatic accident like a car accident or a serious fall
- Herniated Disc: When one of the discs in your back is moved out of place, the cushion in between the vertebrae can press on surrounding nerves and cause serious pain.
- Muscle Strain: When the muscles around your spine are injured, it can cause pain throughout the upper back
- Myofascial Pain Syndrome: This chronic pain disorder comes from repeated motion when a specific muscle contracts over and over, such as when playing a sport or doing work that involves certain movements
- Osteoarthritis: The cartilage protecting your bones can wear down, which makes it painful when bones in a joint rub against each other
- Pinched Nerve: In the upper back, these are most common around the ribs
Depending on the type of injury and the muscle or vertebra it affects, upper back pain can present as sharp pain in one spot, general ache or throbbing, stiffness, tingling, or pain that radiates from the spine into other areas like the arm, chest, or stomach. Back pain may come on suddenly, begin a few hours or even days after an injury, or start gradually and increase in severity over time.
How to Prevent Upper Back Pain
Though each of the common upper back injuries has its own causes and risk factors, the best thing you can do to decrease your risk of injury is to focus on improving your posture.
Poor posture places unnecessary stress on your back, especially when it’s held frequently or for extended periods of time, like while sitting at a desk for work. If you must sit for long periods of time, try to keep your shoulders back and sit in a chair where you can keep your feet on the ground and your arms bent at a 90-degree angle, level with the desk or table. When standing, focus on distributing your weight evenly between your feet.
To help with improving your posture and also preventing work or sport-related injuries, we also recommend doing exercises that target the upper back. Upper back muscles often get overlooked in workouts, but by strengthening them, you can improve your posture and help protect your spine from bearing as much of your body weight. And don’t forget to stretch before and after physical activity!
When Should You Visit a Chiropractor?
Some minor back strains and soreness can be treated with ice, over the counter anti-inflammatory medicine, and rest. But it can be difficult to distinguish those injuries from more serious or chronic conditions, so when in doubt, it’s always wise to get an expert opinion.
If you’ve experienced a car accident, a fall, a sports injury, or another traumatic event that could be linked to your injury, you should definitely see a professional. And if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, get help right away:
- Intense headache
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Trouble breathing
- Trouble walking
Even if your pain doesn’t seem severe, it’s important to see a chiropractor if it doesn’t get better after a few days. Minor back injuries can lead to serious conditions later in life if they’re left untreated. Plus, you should never suffer for longer than you need to if an injury can be quickly treated.
How a Chiropractor Can Treat Upper Back Pain
Unlike a general practitioner, who will likely just prescribe pain medication and rest for any back injury, a great chiropractor like Dr. Rush can use a variety of treatment methods to speed up your healing process and help you feel better as soon as possible.
Depending on the type of injury, Dr. Rush will work with you to diagnose the problem and develop a custom treatment plan that fits your goals.
One common procedure we offer is chiropractic adjustment, also known as spinal manipulation. With this, we apply controlled force to hypomobile joints, which can help to restore your range of motion and help the affected area to heal.
We also use electrical muscle stimulation, a technique where we send mild electrical pulses into target areas to help loosen tight muscles and reduce pain.
If you need physical therapy, massage therapy, or even exercise and nutrition advice to help you experience faster recovery and prevent future injuries, we offer all those services at our Pembroke Pines office.
If you’re experiencing upper back pain, don’t wait to reach out! Give us a call today at (954)432-5006 to schedule a consultation.
Dr. Rush is a 1994 graduate of the University of Florida where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise Sports Science and Wellness.
Dr. Rush earned his Doctor of Chiropractic Degree at Life University in 2000 where he was honored with magna cum laude. Dr. Rush was born and raised in South Florida where he returned after graduation. He currently practices in Pembroke Pines, Florida where he owns and operates Rush Chiropractic and Rehab at Pembroke Pines FL.