Upper Back Pain

Upper Back Pain

What Is Upper Back Pain?

Upper back pain (also called thoracic back pain and middle back pain) is characterized by a sensation of discomfort in the upper spine, between the neck and the bottom of the ribcage. A patient with pain in the thoracic region might also describe the sensation as shoulder blade pain due to their close proximity. However, this is not to be confused with shoulder pain.

It is misleading to treat upper back pain itself as a condition in isolation. Upper back pain itself is a symptom of an underlying condition, such as muscle tightness, compressed spinal discs, or a pinched nerve. A large part of treatment involves identify the root cause of the pain to address it directly.

Because upper back pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, the level of pain and recovery time can vary greatly from patient to patient. In many cases it can have a seriously negative impact on the individual’s day-to-day activities, making it difficult to perform simple tasks such as reaching above head or changing body position.

Upper Back Pain: Common Accompanying Symptoms

  • decreased range of motion
  • difficulty changing body position
  • difficulty walking
  • low back pain
  • neck pain
  • paresthesia (tingling) in the limbs
  • stiffness
  • tightened muscles

Upper Back Pain Causes

Upper back pain can be caused by a variety of conditions. While violent injuries may be the most notable (for example, falling off a ladder), subtler conditions (such as overuse injuries) pose just as great a risk. When determining a plan of care, the therapist’s decisions will be based largely off the kind of condition causing the discomfort.

Example Causes

  • degenerative disc disease
  • fibromyalgia
  • muscle strain
  • osteoarthritis
  • osteoporosis
  • overuse
  • poor body mechanics
  • poor posture
  • poor sleeping position
  • scoliosis
  • spinal disc herniation
  • spinal stenosis
  • sports injury

Upper Back Pain Treatment

Always consult your physician before attempting any kind of treatment program.

Because upper back pain is typically caused by musculoskeletal issues, physical therapy is typically the best approach for treatment. Pain medication can be prescribed to suppress the pain, but this approach addresses only the symptom instead of the underlying cause.

At Central Washington Physical Therapy, located in Yakima, we take a causative approach to your healthcare. In addition to providing immediate treatment to help minimize your discomfort, we help to identify probable causes for your condition, how to start improving it now, and how to avoid it in the future. For upper back pain, such treatments may include the following:

Upper Back Pain: Treatment Options

If you suffer from upper back pain, Central Washington Physical Therapy may be able to help you. Contact us below to get started.