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A Heads Up on Upper Back Pain

Feb 11, 2008
When you experience upper back pain, it's occurring in what's called the cervical curve which is composed of the vertebrae C1 through C7. Vertebrae are the bones in your spine and this section of the spine has less motion than the mid-spine bones. The cervical curve bones have a very important role: they support your head. In other words, you can hold your head up because of your upper spine and the connected muscles. The cervical curve, or upper back, also serves to protect the nerves that run from your brain to your body.

Since the upper back bones have less mobility than the middle of the spine, upper back pain is most frequently due to muscle injury or myositis. Myositis is the inflammation of muscles. Fortunately, the bones in the upper back seldom experience problems like herniated discs. Unfortunately, you can't see muscle strain on diagnostic pictures like an MRI.

The medical community is increasingly convinced stress can cause a lot of back pain. Stressed and tight muscles in the neck surrounding the cervical curve can result in upper back pain. For example, a 'stiff neck' can feel like pain in your neck and upper back. The tight muscles further restrict the limited motion of this part of the spine. Other causes, besides injury or stress, of upper back pain include the following.

* Osteoporosis
* Disc disease
* Bad posture
* Strain due to incorrect lifting

These are certainly not all the causes of upper back pain, but they are the most frequent causes. Most people experience routine upper back pain due to the most common reason of all: sleeping wrong on the pillow. It sounds so simple, but can cause great pain for a few days. The more serious injuries to the upper spine are usually due to events like car accidents or sports accidents.

Treatment of upper back pain depends upon the cause of the pain naturally. It can be just as difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of pain in the upper back as it is to pinpoint it in the mid and lower back regions. But even if the doctor can't locate the exact reason for the pain if it's not due to vertebrae injury, you can still find relief through a number of methods. These methods range from applying heat or cold all the way to surgery.

Since most upper back pain is due to muscle strain, surgery is usually not required. Other treatments include anti-inflammatory drugs, massage and muscle relaxants. It's really good news that the upper spine seldom deteriorates since it protects the nerves from the brain. Injuring the bones in the upper spine can result in nerve damage too, and that can be extremely debilitating.

If you have upper back pain, and your home remedies have not brought relief, a doctor should be consulted.
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