Upper Back Pain: How Chiropractic & Cervical Spinal Decompression Can Help Provide Chronic Pain Relief
Why does it feel like there is a knife in my back? What is this unusual pain that I feel in my sides and chest? Why does it hurt my back if I cough or sneeze at certain times? Is this pain coming from in between my shoulder blades or is it something else? Anywhere from 4.0 - 72% of the population is experiencing mid back pain at any given time.
These are all common questions that enter the minds of those who suffer from pain coming from the mid back area. This region of the body starts from the base of the neck and extends towards the lower back area between waist and the bottom of the shoulder blades. It consists of 12 total bones (also known as vertebrae) and is commonly referred to as the thoracic spine. There are a variety of different reasons and conditions for this region of the body that we will touch on in this article.
What Are Some Of The Common Symptoms Associated With Mid Back Pain?
There are several different types of pain that can be found in the mid back area ranging from dully and achy to burning or even stabbing. Even a sensation of burning can be felt under the shoulder blades with some conditions. Pain with taking a deep breath is often found in those people who have ribs that do not move well. More serious symptoms like chest pain, tingling/numbness in the arms or loss of bowel or bladder control can occur also.
What Causes Mid Back Pain?
This is the most likely of conditions that walks into our clinic on a daily basis. The majority of chiropractic patients spend more than 40 to 50 hours per week while sitting at a computer. This consistent positioning of the body leads to increased tightness in the muscles in the front of the body such as the chest and fronts of the shoulders. While this is occurring the muscles in the middle/upper back areas are getting progressively weaker over time. The muscles that support the shoulder blades are no longer able to allow the body to keep normal posture. The neck will also be pushing more forward over time which can lead to muscle strain. This imbalance will lead to ligaments to work harder as well leading to even more midback pain.
Fall or Trauma
People have accidents all the time which could be anything from a fall to a car wreck or even a sports injury. Even though the middle back region is less likely to incur an injury from trauma due to it being more structured and rigid it is still possible. A fall on an outstretched hand can cause the shoulder blade to become damaged or the structures that attach to it. When the arm is extended the back of the shoulder can also be injured which connects to the upper/mid back region.
One of the more common issues that people have is sleeping in a poor position at night. This position encompasses roughly one third of a person’s life so it is best to sleep either on the side or flat on the back. A lot of stomach sleepers have issues with their mid back region because his or her lower half is twisted or turned. This will cause increased rotation of the mid back that over time can lead to imbalances and eventual pain with time.
Some people can suffer from this condition that causes less space for the discs between the vertebrae which leads to narrowing of the nerves coming from the spinal cord. In extreme cases of OA the vertebrae can either be partially fused together or have areas that have “hooks” that encroach on the spinal nerves. These “hooks” are areas of arthritis that if not helped with chiropractic care and exercise could progress to evental fusion.
The ribs of the body attach to all of the bones of the thoracic spine and wrap around to the front of the body. It is possible at times for the bones to slide out of position and if there is enough rotation of these bones then the ribs that connect to them can become a problem. This can cause sharp, stabbing type pains that will eventually travel to the chest. This is the main issue when people feel pain with deep inspiration or even with coughing or laughing.
How Can Mid Back Pain Be Fixed?
The best way to help mid back pain is a combination of chiropractic care and corrective exercises. Always be sure to consult a chiropractor who will do a thorough consultation and examination of the area followed by radiographic images (x-rays). The vertebrae of the spinal column can move in 16 different positions so it is always best to have a great bird’s eye view of the problem. This will not only help the chiropractor to know the best areas to adjust but it will allow the patient to understand what exactly is being treated.
As the mid back area is getting better it is best to resolve any lifestyle changes that contributed to the problem. These changes can include sleeping position, desk/computer set-up and sitting too much. Along with chiropractic care, spinal decompression, and a therapy known as PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field) can be very helpful with overall cellular healing. When pain and inflammation within the body exists then the ability of the cells deep within the body to self heal is diminished.
Spinal decompression helps to stretch and pull the spine to open up joint spaces. This is particularly helpful for bulging or herniated discs and spinal degeneration. While we do pull more on the lower back than the mid back, patients report that as their lower back becomes accustomed to the decompression therapy, they start to feel it further up the spine. It's not uncommon to start feeling the pull from the table in the mid back.
The PEMF therapy will allow those cells to come to a higher charge allowing the body to heal like it was intended to do. Last but certainly not least, physical therapy exercises are introduced to help correct the imbalances of the body. The foundation will be thoracic exercises but over time they should be performed for the neck and lower back as well. Like with any other therapy, consistency is key in order to see long term results. It is best to practice the exercises at least 3-4 times per week and be sure to always follow the advice of your chiropractor to assure that you can progress to having the best spinal health possible.
Many people deal with mid back pain by waiting for it to go away on its own. Others tough it out and categorize themselves as having a high pain tolerance. The problem with both of these methods, usually the pain only gets worse and is harder to get rid of the longer it's there.
Other times, medications are taken on a daily basis and constant massages are scheduled but the pain seems to keep coming back again and again. The best thing to do is to get evaluated by your local chiropractor and get x-rays to assess the severity of your condition. The more information you have about what is creating your pain, the easier it is to figure out what treatment options should be taken.
Having mid back pain doesn’t mean you are doomed to a life of pain.
Let CORE Chiropractic help you get back on track with personalized chiropractic care, spinal decompression, PEMF therapy and a custom treatment plan. Call today for your consultation, or schedule an appointment.