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Understanding Upper Back Pain

When you hear about cases of pain related to the spinal column, those cases most likely involve neck (cervical) pain or lower back (lumbar) pain. But many individuals also suffer from another kind of pain -- upper back pain, in the area of the thoracic vertebrae. Here at Living Well Medical, our NYC chiropractic and pain management team can help you if you suffer from annoying or even debilitating pain in this area.

Pain in the upper back does not occur as commonly as neck or lower back pain because this part of the spine is not prone to quite the same set of stresses. The thoracic spine's primary task is to keep the trunk vertical and to provide anchor points for the rib cage, so it does not have as sharp a curve to it as the other, more mobile portions of the spinal column. Its inherent stability makes it relatively less vulnerable to the herniations and strains that come from extreme jarring or twisting. Even the thoracic spine, however, can sustain damage or experience degenerative joint conditions under the right set of conditions. A serious fall or other impact, for instance, might cause a sudden vertebral subluxation in the area, and this subluxation could promote pain disc bulges or herniations. Other types of joint-based pain may be caused by spinal stenosis (a thickening of bone that pressures the spinal cord), or other chronic problems. The joints connecting the ribs to the thoracic vertebrae can provide yet another source of joint pain in the area.

Myofascial stress is more common than degenerative or traumatic joint trouble as a cause of pain in the upper back. The trapezius and other large muscle groups serving the back, shoulders and neck connect to the thoracic spine, and injury or strain to these tissues can cause significant pain. We see this variety of pain quite often in the form of overuse injuries, particularly in office workers who habitually adopt a slouching posture, or who stretch unnaturally to reach items in the workplace. Auto injuries, sports injuries, or simple lack of conditioning can all cause myofascial pain.

Non-Surgical Pain Relief at Our NYC Clinic

If you seek a pain relief strategy for your upper back that doesn't require painkillers or invasive surgery, then Living Well Medical can help. We begin by discussing your medical history, including any recent accidents you may have been involved in. We then study your musculoskeletal system closely to determine whether your pain is being caused by soft tissue strain, joint trouble, or both. Chiropractic adjustments can resolve any misalignments that may be placing undue strain on nerves, muscles and connective tissues. Heat, cold, massage, and other forms of soft tissue therapy can provide pain relief while helping muscles heal themselves more efficiently. If you need physical conditioning, we may recommend physical therapy to add strength to your entire spinal column and other parts of the body. Contact us to learn more!