Typically when an individual is dealing with back pain, it’s localized in either the lumbar spine region (lower back), or cervical spine region (neck). Your thoracic spine region (upper back), is generally far more durable and resistant to injury when compared to those two areas.
However, upper back pain is still a fairly common problem that many people experience. The most common symptoms associated with pain in the thoracic spine can include:
- Either sharp pain or an aching, general discomfort
- Pain that radiates into your arm, chest, or further down your body
- Pins and needles sensations
People that experience upper back pain can find the symptoms either appear suddenly, or develop over a gradual period of time. Quite often, individuals report that the pain is intermittent — it’s severe early in the morning and then gradually improves throughout the day.
If you’re currently dealing with this type of pain, this article aims to provide you with a few tips on how to find upper back pain relief.
The Most Common Causes of Upper Back Pain
Due to the overall durability of the thoracic spine, when an individual is experiencing upper back pain, it’s generally due to extended amounts of time spent with poor posture or a sudden injury.
Poor posture is the most frequent cause of upper back pain. Modern sedentary lifestyles combined with long term poor posture can result in a weakening of the muscles found in your upper back. When this occurs, the muscles become unable to hold the spine in a stable, neutral position.
Other than poor posture, sudden injuries are the most common cause of upper back pain. This is usually the result of improper lifting technique when picking up heavy objects or some type of accident or collision.
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Additionally, some people experience upper back pain as a result of overuse of their back muscles. Repetitive motions that place strain on the thoracic spine can lead to muscle strains, ligament sprains, and even inflammation.
Top 5 Ways to Find Upper Back Pain Relief: How to Find Upper Back Pain Relief
In certain cases, upper back pain can be effectively managed at home with some sound self-care techniques. Here’s a few of the best ways we know of to provide upper back pain relief:
Correct Your Posture
As this is by far the most common cause of upper back pain, it makes sense to begin with addressing any problems you may have with posture. Typical signs of poor posture include rounded shoulders, your head leaning forward, and are noteworthy for our purposes, body aches and pains.
When you work on correcting your posture pose and adopting a good posture, you can experience a tremendous difference in how your body feels. Focus on keeping your head held up, your shoulders pulled back, and extend your chest slightly. This applies to both sitting down and standing up.
If you notice that your upper back pain gets worse while performing certain activities or movements, then you might want to consider refraining from those tasks and giving your back some rest for a day or two. For example, if you experience noticeable pain while performing any household chores, then it’s best to hold off and worry about them later so as not to make things worse.
With that being said, it’s important to get back to an active lifestyle after a brief rest period. Prolonged periods of inactivity can contribute to your muscles weakening, which can potentially lead to more problems later on down the road.
Alternate Hot and Cold Therapy
When you first begin to notice any symptoms of upper back pain, it’s a good idea to use ice therapy for the first couple of days. This can help to bring down any swelling and lower inflammation, helping to provide pain relief.
After the first 48 hours, it’s recommended to switch over to using heat therapy. While using both forms of therapy for back pain, there are two important considerations to keep in mind — don’t use hot or cold therapy for longer than 20 minutes at a time and periodically check your skin to make sure that you aren’t causing any tissue damage.
Treating yourself to a deep tissue massage can be a fantastic way to find some relief for your upper back pain. A good massage will help loosen up your tight muscles, stimulate blood flow, and help reduce your overall stress levels.
You have a few different options when it comes to massage therapy for upper back pain — you can use a foam roller for self-massage, enlist the aid of a friend or family member, or seek out a professional registered massage therapist.
Over-the-Counter Pain Medications
If all else fails and the pain is causing you enough discomfort, then you can look into over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications. They generally work to either lower inflammation occurring in your body or by blocking pain signals sent from your nerves from reaching your brain.
Medications like Advil or Tylenol can help provide you with pain relief without the need of a prescription. However, just because they are available OTC doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consult the label and follow the instructions to avoid any unwanted negative side effects.
Generally, by applying the five strategies listed above at the first noticeable signs of upper back pain, you can manage the symptoms well enough that you can get through your days without experiencing too much discomfort.
By addressing your posture, avoiding tasks that aggravate the affected area, and using either hot/cold or massage therapy along with OTC pain medications as needed, you’ll be able to find effective relief for your upper back pain.
If after a week or two you find that you are still experiencing upper back pain, or any type of back pain at all, then you should check out Back Pain Relief For Life for a fantastic program that treats the root causes of back pain with a completely natural method.