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Understanding Upper Back Pain And Its Causes

Apr 5, 2008
In order to understand upper back pain causes, we must first understand the upper back. Unlike lower back pain, pain from the upper back is not that common. The upper back region is where you will find the thoracic spine, which in turn contains twelve vertebrae. These vertebrae are linked to nine of the twelve ribs. Sitting perpendicularly to the spine is the breastbone, which also is connected to the ribs. These bones all form part of what is known as the thoracic or "chest" cage. This cage sole responsibility is to protect the organs found in our upper body. The three remaining ribs at the low end of the "ladder" are not attached to the breastbone and therefore do not form part of the thoracic or "chest" cage.

Upper back pain, though rare, does occur. This article will explain the causes and treatment of upper back pain.

What Causes Upper Back Pain

The human spinal web is divided in three major sections

1. The thoracic spine which exists to not only give the body its stability but also to protect the major organs and for that reason, is much stronger that the other two.

2. The cervical spine is closely related to the neck area and its main purpose is to allow the body to move and flex.

3. The lumbar spine is associated to the lower back and its main role, as with the cervical spine, is to give the body its flexibility and movement.

It is mainly for these reasons that most back injuries tend to occur in the lumbar and cervical spines, as they are not as strong as the thoracic spine. However back pains, as rare as they may seem, still do occur in the thoracic spine and can be traced back to either myofascial pain and joint dysfunctional pain.

Myofascial pain - Is basically an irritation of the muscles brought about by muscle strains. Strains usually occur during sporting activities, over use of a muscle or even extreme sudden movements as in when the body is thrown forward in a car crash. In these cases, it is the larger muscles that support the shoulder blades that are affected.

Joint dysfunction - Joints are the connection between each rib and the thoracic spine. Sustaining an injury to the joints can cause them to stop functioning properly and cause upper back pain.

How To Treat Upper Back Pain

The recommended treatment for myofascial pain is deep tissue massage, manipulation of the spine by a qualified physiotherapist, very light shoulder exercises and even a dose of acupuncture. Stretching and strengthening your shoulder muscles are a must if you want to be finally free from upper back pain.

Joint dysfunction is usually best treated by direct injections of steroids in the problem area or areas, light aerobic exercises, prescribed medication and manipulation of the spine by a qualified physiotherapist

Upper back pain causes are very hard to diagnose and should you be unfortunately suffering from it, the best professionals to see are firstly pain management specialists like chiropractors and physiotherapist and if the pain still persists, an orthopedic surgeon.
About the Author
Upper back pain is not as common as lower back pain. The upper back is quite complex making the source of the pain hard to locate. This article will help you understand the upper back and the main causes of upper back pain. For many more articles related to back pain and their cures, please visit Backpainarticles.com
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