Your upper back is much less prone to back pain and injury than the lumbar (lower back) region or cervical (neck) region. Most of the stress from your body’s weight and physical activity is placed on the lower back. Though it is less common, upper back pain can still be very painful and detrimental to your overall health. It may even lead to long-term disability.
According to Medical News Today, upper back pain – also referred to as thoracic spine pain (TSP) – is most commonly a cause of lifestyle issues such as poor posture or muscle strain. The affected area, known as the thoracic spine, is comprised of 12 bones — starting at the bottom of the neck and ending below the rib cage. This section of the spine is meant to support the rib cage and provide stability to protect the organs around it.
Causes of Upper Back Pain
Just by being at work and sitting at your desk, you could be wreaking havoc on your muscles and deconditioning them without even knowing it. Dr. J. Talbot Sellers, DO states, “the muscles can become deconditioned and weak, and thus not hold the spine in neutral alignment as easily as before. As the head and shoulders hunch forward, more pressure is placed on the spine’s bones, discs, muscles, ligaments, and other soft tissues.” This can lead to irritation and even harsh muscular pain. Proper posture techniques will not only make you feel 100% better but keep you healthier as well, decreasing the stress on your ligaments and preventing fatigue. Other possible causes of upper back pain include:
If you or your child suffer from upper back pain, your physician will most likely prescribe physical therapy as the main form of rehabilitation. With Direct Access rules in all states of the US, you can receive physical therapy without a prescription. PTs will be able to complete a full evaluation of your condition, pinpoint the source of your pain, and work with you to restore and strengthen your body.
Palak Shah, PT, OCS states that once the pain is managed, significant cases of upper back pain can benefit from restoring specific thoracic segment mobility and muscle balance. For example, tightness of your pec muscles, upper neck muscles can be a result of poor prolonged posture that in turn develops weakness in your deep neck muscles in the front and mid scapular muscles. It's called the Upper Crossed Syndrome. Your PT will be able to evaluate and create individualized flexibility and mobility exercises to target specific joints or muscles that are affected in the upper back. Breathing and rib cage mobility can be impacted by thoracic spine pain and restriction as well. Therapists are movement experts that are able to understand how the movement of your upper body is inter-related and inter-dependent.
Certain cases of upper back pain can also cause pain radiation into the arms and in some cases also causes sympathetic nervous system reactions like increased HR, perspiration, vasodilation, etc. Having an expert on-demand PT evaluate the deep root cause of your pain and its potential effects on your mobility and pain can help address and be more aware of a focused treatment plan.
On-Demand Physical Therapy With Luna
We know kicking a bad habit can be hard, especially poor posture. Luna can help you stay accountable for your Exercises and see more effective, faster results! Often people become so familiar with the feeling of bad posture that it honestly feels unnatural to practice good posture, so they slip back into their old habits and do not complete their prescribed treatment plan. By having the accountability that Luna offers with at-home physical therapy, you can be more motivated to stick to your treatment plan and heal properly.
By having access to an on-demand PT, you can have a more meaningful impact on your health, focus on ways to decrease your upper back pain in the familiarity of your own home or office, and have more one-on-one time with your PT to get the care you really need.
If you’re ready to begin healing and take the necessary steps for proper posture and muscle conditioning, contact us today.