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Your Upper Back Pain

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The chiropractic approach to treating back pain

Regardless of the cause, a majority of U.S. adults will encounter back or neck pain significant enough to seek medical attention (Source). Millions of people choose chiropractic care for their upper back pain because it is a safe, conservative treatment option.

Chiropractic care for your upper back pain is an alternative to steroid shots, prescription pain medications, and invasive surgery.

Why do I have upper back pain?

Most upper back pain is caused by soft tissue injury or poor posture. Sprains, strains, and muscle tension can occur in the upper back from several activities:
  • Poor posture and "text neck"
  • Twisting and overstretching
  • Whiplash and injury
  • Improper lifting
  • Carry something too heavy
  • Wearing a heavy bag or backpack
  • Overuse and repetitive motions
  • Contact sports

While these activities may lead to upper back pain, other lifestyle and risk factors can also contribute. Age, lack of exercise, excess weight, smoking, and depression or anxiety can increase your likelihood of experiencing upper back pain.
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Symptoms to look out for

Maybe you've been carrying an overfull backpack or a fussy child for too long. Perhaps you took a particularly hard hit during your weekend rugby match or you overestimated your ability to move the sectional couch alone.

Your upper back pain symptoms may feel like:

  • Pain or ache in the upper back
  • Tightness
  • Stiffness
  • Tenderness or warmth to touch
  • Headache

If the issue is an injury to the spine, like a herniated disk, you may also feel pain in your lower back or radiating through your arms and legs.

When you can clearly connect your back pain to a particular incident, you may be able to treat it at home. If your pain persists or appears without a known cause, you should consult a chiropractor.
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How to relieve
upper back pain

It's common to reach for over-the-counter medications when you experience everyday aches and pains. But, when is an everyday pain something more serious? What do you do if you cannot take certain pain relievers because of a medical condition or side effects?

The American College of Physicians recommends first using drug-free treatments, like spinal adjustment offered by chiropractors to treat back pain (Source). A doctor of chiropractic is a trained medical professional who specializes in spinal health. If your pain is a more serious issue or doesn't respond to chiropractic methods, a chiropractor can connect you to the specialist you need for treatment.

Good posture reduces back pain

A simple way to reduce your upper and middle back pain is to complete some good posture exercises and stretches. Posture is a key factor when it comes to relieving back pain. This is why chiropractors educate their patients about posture and body mechanics. Your chiropractor will likely suggest completing stretches at home like:

  • Chin tuck – In a chair with your feet flat and your shoulders relaxed, pull your chin to your neck. Hold for five and then relax. Repeat 10 times.
  • Shoulder blade squeeze – With your hands on your thighs and shoulders down, slowly squeeze your shoulders together. Hold for five and then relax. Repeat three times.
  • Upper back stretch – Raise your arm to shoulder level in front of you and use your other hand to grasp the elbow and gently pull your raised arm across your chest. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat three times for each arm.

As well as gentle stretching, you can use ice and heat packs as well as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain in your upper back. If your backache is more severe or persists over time, definitely seek medical advice from a doctor of chiropractic.

Can stress cause upper back pain?

Stress absolutely affects our bodies and can manifest in upper back pain. For example, your movement may be limited because of an injury. This causes psychological distress that can worsen your pain. Anxiety over your pain can increase the pain you feel.

This is why several chronic pain management techniques utilize strategies like mindfulness or meditation. Your mind has a lot of influence on what your body feels. Chiropractic care can often blend several approaches and techniques, both physical and mental, to treat your pain.
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Does heartburn cause upper back pain?

Yes, it is possible that your heartburn or other digestive issues are causing your back pain. One of the benefits of spinal adjustment offered by your chiropractor is that it promotes a healthy central nervous system, which can increase blood flow and nutrients. This could decrease the severity of your digestive symptoms.

How to sleep with upper back pain

If you are experiencing back pain, adjusting your sleeping position can remove some of the strain (Source). Sleeping on your stomach is the least optimal position for your back. If you cannot fall asleep any other way, place a pillow under your abdominal area to reduce back strain.

For side sleepers, draw your legs up slightly toward your chest and put a pillow between them. For back sleepers, a pillow under your knees helps maintain the natural curve of your back. You can also use a small, rolled towel under your lower back for additional support.

Whatever your preferred sleeping position, be sure to have the proper pillow to support your neck. If you are experiencing neck pain, changing up your pillow could make a big difference.

When to see a chiropractor for upper back pain

If you cannot immediately identify the cause of your upper back pain, like a hard tackle during a football game or a workplace injury, a chiropractor can help you determine the cause.

Usually, upper back pain will lessen in a few days. If it does not, this is also a sign you should seek chiropractic treatment. Because so much of upper back pain occurs because of problems with posture, it may not lessen until you make the right adjustments. A chiropractor can help determine the problem areas and help you fix them.

Chiropractic treatment is different for everyone. Many issues can be fixed over the course of a few visits, while some chronic pain may need to be managed on an ongoing basis. Whatever your needs are, our office is ready to help you.
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