A Common Pain With Many Causes: Exploring Chiropractic Care for Upper Back Pain
Upper back pain isn’t just something you “live with.” It’s impossible to overstate the profound impact that back pain can have on quality of life for people of all ages. A Global Burden of Disease study examining the impact of back pain on mental health found that people suffering from back pain are more than twice as likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, psychosis, stress and sleep deprivation. As you may know, this type of pain can also be frustratingly difficult to treat due to the fact that it’s hard to properly rest the back while keeping up with the demands of daily life. This often means that a “small” amount of pain blossoms into a full-fledged pain problem if left untreated. For many people with upper back pain, chiropractic care relieves pain while restoring strength. This is due to the fact that chiropractic intervention takes a whole-body approach to back pain that allows you to heal more completely by getting to the root cause of pain. Chiropractic care also helps to build strength in the body through exercise and posture awareness. Take a look at what everyone should know about upper back pain and chiropractic care.
Getting to the Root of Your Discomfort: What Does Upper Back Pain Feel Like?
Upper back pain can manifest in a number of different ways. The most obvious sign that you’re dealing with upper back pain is a sensation of pain that radiates throughout the upper portion of your back. However, there is range even within this very obvious symptom. For some people, the pain is a sharp, stabbing sensation. Other people feel a dull ache. Frequency of pain can also differ by person. While some people live with constant awareness of pain, others may have pain “attacks” that flare up throughout the day. However, upper back pain can also present as stiffness and tightness in the muscles in the upper back. You may find that your upper back feels very tender when you press your fingers to it. There may even be sensations of numbness and tingling. Additionally, some people experience muscle spasms or weakness all throughout the upper back. It’s also fairly common for upper back pain to causes headaches. All of these symptoms can be very distressing because they are unpredictable and uncontrollable. When you work with a chiropractor, you’ll have an opportunity to put all of these different symptoms together to get a full picture of exactly what’s happening in your upper back at the nerve and tissue levels to create these sensations.
The Reality of Upper Back Pain: One Pain With Many Different Causes
Everyone has a unique experience with upper back pain because the factors that contribute to this condition can be different for every person. For some people, upper back pain is caused by trauma to the body. Other people begin experiencing upper back pain without any discernable reason. The direction that your chiropractor approaches treatment from can differ based on why you’re experiencing back pain. Here’s a look at some of the common underlying causes of upper back pain:
- Injuries from contact sports, improper lifting of heavy objects or falls.
- Constant poor posture.
- Subluxations in the cervical spine or thoracic spine.
- Repetitive movements.
- Compression fractures.
- Herniated discs.
- Muscle strain.
- Ligament sprain.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
Ultimately, there are hundreds of ways to become susceptible to upper back pain. One of the big benefits of taking the whole-body approach to treating your upper back pain with help from a chiropractor is that your health history and lifestyle will be reviewed as part of your long-term treatment plan for healing. This can help you to avoid further strain and injury by getting to the root of why your upper back is being compromised. In some cases, people who can’t find an underlying cause for upper back pain discover that stress is causing them to unconsciously keep their muscles contracted as part of a survival response called muscle guarding. Others find that the postures they are using while sitting in front of a computer screen to work are causing severe strain. Awareness is really the first step to healing in these cases. The good news is that there are many techniques and exercises that can be easily learned for avoiding strain and injury.
How Do Chiropractors Treat Upper Back Pain?
When chiropractors address upper back pain, they look at the whole picture to see how the back is being impacted by other areas of the body. During an evaluation, your health history will be discussed to ensure that any underling conditions or past injuries will be taken into account during your treatment. A plan for prolonged pain relief may include several different treatments that work together to rehabilitate your upper back while also relieving inflammation and tension throughout the central nervous system. Here’s a look at the typical treatment roster for upper back pain:
- Spinal Adjustments: A chiropractic adjustment releases stress that is creating pain, irritation and inflammation in the joints, bones, nerves and tissue throughout your body by focusing on getting your vertebrae back into proper alignment. This is essential for getting the central nervous system back to its optimal state.
- Massage: Chiropractic massage promotes healing by ramping up blood circulation in soft tissue. During massage, muscle stiffness is relaxed to allow for improved mobility, reduced inflammation and pain reduction.
- Strengthening Exercises: Many conventional pain treatments focus only on reducing pain “in the moment.” While spinal adjustments and massage are highly effective for providing instant relief, they may not be enough to help you prevent the same injuries from occurring in the future. This is where strengthening exercises come into the picture. Exercises that teach you how to strengthen your core while using your muscle groups correctly can help you to enjoy flexibility that makes you less susceptible to injury in the future.
You Don’t Have to Live With Upper Back Pain
Living with upper back pain can be a disruptive, isolating experience because finding relief on your own is very hard. When upper back pain is caused by subluxations or displaced discs, traditional methods for pain management can only assist on a very temporary, superficial level because the underlying misalignment has not been corrected. Many people who see care providers are told that surgery may be the only option for chronic upper back pain. However, surgery comes with risks, high costs and a long recovery time. Chiropractic care for upper back pain is an alternative to more invasive options that allows a patient to enjoy natural restoration of spinal alignment. There’s no need to avoid chiropractic care just because you’re already seeking traditional care for back pain. In a study from 2018, researchers actually found that patients who used a combination of traditional medical care and chiropractic care for back pain had better outcomes for pain reduction and rehabilitation than patients who used traditional medical care alone. If upper back pain has become a source of frustration in your life, it’s time to learn more about the benefits of finding integrated healing through chiropractic care!