What is Upper Back Pain?

Upper Back Pain
Upper back pain may be less common than other spinal ailments, but for many men and women it is no less painful. This condition can manifest as acute or chronic discomfort and significantly affects the lives of those who experience it. The term upper back pain generally describes any pain occurring throughout the upper back area, including the shoulder blades and the region where the rib cage connects to the upper, mid-back and chest sections of the spine.

Upper Back Pain Symptoms

Because many conditions can cause upper back pain, its symptoms vary widely. You might be suffering from upper back pain if you develop:

  • Stiffness and tightness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tenderness
  • Pain through the neck and shoulders
  • Numbness
  • Bad posture
  • Weakness

In the case of a fractured vertebrae or injured disc, upper back pain may become intensely persistent and debilitating. If chest pain or shortness of breath occurs, seek medical help immediately as these illness indicators may be signs of a heart attack or cardiac failure.

Upper Back Pain Causes

If the above symptoms sound familiar, there’s a good chance you are being afflicted by upper back pain. Many patients are surprised to learn the broad spectrum of factors that can spur upper back complications. The following determinants can contribute to upper back pain:

  • Strained Muscles
    The shoulder girdle is attached by large muscles to the scapula, or shoulder blade, and the back of the thoracic rib cage. These large upper back muscles are susceptible to irritation. When you over-stretch muscle tissue, damage often occurs. Tearing of the muscle and the disruption of small blood vessels can lead to tenderness, inflammation and swelling. Poor posture, a lack of exercise, a traumatic incident or improperly lifting heavy objects may induce harm.
  • Injured Discs
    Injured discs in the spinal column press against surrounding tissues and nerves, causing pain and other complications.
  • Fractured Vertebrae
    A damaged vertebrae in the cervical (neck) or thoracic (upper) regions of the spine may hinder motion and incite intense discomfort.
  • Infection
    Some serious bacterial infections, such as meningitis, can cause upper back pain.
  • Osteoporosis
    Hormonal changes and vitamin deficiencies can cause osteoporosis, a condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from tissue loss. Weak bones are more likely to fracture or become injured, straining corresponding tissues and ligaments.
  • Aging
    Over time, the spine becomes vulnerable to deterioration and the body becomes less able to adapt quickly. Sometimes upper back pain results as tissues, ligaments and bones deal with damage and fluctuating weight distribution.
  • Spinal Conditions, such as scoliosis
    Certain complications, such as scoliosis, disrupt the structural integrity of the spine and cause pain.
  • Health issues, like acid reflux or ulcers
    Some health challenges can aggravate the vegas nerve, which extends into the upper back. Additionally, patients may sleep in specific positions to get relief from heartburn and other maladies, thus causing back pain.
  • Joint Dysfunction
    Ribs are connected to vertebrae in the thoracic spine by two joints, which fasten upon each side of the spine. When these joints do not function properly or become injured, discomfort results.

Upper Back Pain Non-Surgical Treatment Options

By locating the sources of your upper back pain, you can pursue effective treatment and often reduce the severity of your condition.

Begin keeping a pain journal and charting your symptoms and their triggers. If pain ceases after taking over-the-counter pain relievers or using a combination of ice packs and heat, your discomfort is most likely caused by strained muscles and will heal on its own.

Physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation and massage can also be helpful.

Upper Back Pain Minimally Invasive Treatment Options

For some patients more extensive treatment is required, likely because their pain is caused by a more enduring injury. At Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, our highly trained specialists are here to help, every step of the way. We create customized, patient-centric plans that fit your unique needs and preferences.

Before deciding upon a specific approach to treatment, our experts may recommend an imaging study, such as an MRI, CT scan or X-ray. We also offer advanced pain mapping procedures that pinpoint and isolate the precise sources of discomfort in the neck and back. By discovering the underlying instigator of your upper back pain, our team can construct a strategy to directly address your unique condition.

If an injury has damaged a disc or fractured a bone in your upper back, minimally invasive surgery may be the most effective treatment. Undergoing minimally invasive surgery, as opposed to traditional open surgery, has many advantages. Typically, minimally invasive surgeries involve small incisions which leave little scarring and require almost no recovery time. Some treatments we offer to mitigate upper back pain are:

  • Discectomies
    If a ruptured disc in the thoracic region is causing upper back pain, our Board-certified surgeons may recommend undergoing a discectomy. During a discectomy, parts of your herniation will be removed to reduce pressure on muscle tissue, ligaments and nerves. The disc wall will then be mended to guard against future effusions.
  • Microdiscectomies
    For those suffering from a slipped or herniated disc in the cervical region, a microdiscectomy may provide relief. During a minimally invasive microdiscectomy, your surgeon will use advanced techniques to create a minute point of entry. Through this incision, the ruptured portion of the affected disc is removed in order to relieve surrounding nerves and tissues. The surgeon then treats the disc wall to prevent further leakage.
  • Fusions
    During a fusion procedure, the surgeon links weakened vertebrae together with a bone-bridge that re-stabilizes the spine. The surgeon may also remove damaged regions of discs and insert a spacer into empty disc space, along with bone graft material to promote rapid healing and encourage the two vertebrae to form one. Fusions align vertebral bones and can reduce the likelihood of nerves being pinched.

Take control of your health today by addressing your upper back pain. At Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, our team is committed to helping you find safe and successful treatment, so that you can live your best possible life and pursue the things you love to do – Unhindered.

Contact us today by calling 972-255-5588 or by filling out the form on this page. We look forward to meeting with you!

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