Back pain is a common problem experienced by all people regardless of age, gender or race. It is the most common cause of disability in people less than forty-five years old. Back symptoms are expensive health problems because it incurs direct health care expenses and costs due to productivity loss that amounts to approximately a hundred billion dollars annually in the United States. Back pains can be classified to either lower, which affects the lumbar to sacral regions of the spine, and upper that involves the cervical and thoracic area. Upper back pain can occur together with neck pain and/or shoulder pain. It is important to prevent upper back pain before it progresses to serious complications such as chronic disability.
Conditions that increase the risk of upper back pain include congenital condition, family history of spine diseases, increasing age. Avoiding risk factors such as excessive weight gain, sedentary lifestyle, stress or emotional tension and smoking can prevent upper back pain. Upper back pain symptoms may be classified according to its duration. Acute symptoms can have immediate onset of pain and last up to 3 months while chronic symptoms have delayed, persistent onset of pain that lasts beyond twelve weeks. Those with acute symptoms can be caused by fractures or muscle sprains while chronic back pain is secondary to bad posture or other medical conditions.
In order to treat or prevent upper back pain, it is important to first know the underlying condition. Back pains can be due by multi-factorial causes like congenital or developmental conditions such as spondylolysis or inflammation, especially if the pain is acute like herniated discs and fractures. Most back symptoms are associated with strains or sprains and poor posture. The self-inflicted causes are easily modifiable to prevent upper back pain.
NB! Scroll down to see two simple relaxation and self massage exercises (videos) to relieve and prevent upper back pain.
7 Ways To Prevent Upper Back Pain
- Exercise. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important to prevent upper back pain. Non-strenuous exercises not only avoid excess weight gain that can cause lower back pain but it also help prevent upper back pain caused by weakened muscles that cannot handle activities of daily living such as walking, bending or stretching. Some forms of yoga and tai chi can help in correcting posture, improve balance and stability.
- Drink milk or take calcium supplements and Vitamin D. This ensures a healthy level of calcium in the body that can prevent osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition that makes the bones weak and brittle. It can predispose the spinal bones to fracture and collapse from minor injuries, falls or by misdirection of movement.
- Maintain correct posture. Chronic stooped posture puts strains on the muscles and changes the skeletal form and angle of the back causing tension in the muscles and nerves resulting to upper back pain. To analyze proper posture when standing, position self against the wall with the back of the head, shoulders, buttocks, and calves touching the wall. A good sitting posture should have the knee and hip joints at a 90 degree angle with the feet flat on the floor, the body weight should rest on the pelvic bones while preserving the spinal curves. The ears, shoulders and hips should be vertically aligned and relaxed to avoid tension in neck and shoulders.
- Avoid muscle overuse, strain, or injuries like in contact sports, accidents and falls that may cause back pain due to muscle pull, herniated discs or fractures. These can even inflict severe damage to the spinal column and/or cord. When lifting heavy objects, bend at the knees and not at the waist to avoid straining the back.
- Wear proper support. Ladies with big breasts usually suffer from upper back pain because of greater curvature of the spine or altered center of gravity. Before considering surgical correction, it can be beneficial to wear brassiere with thicker bands that offer breasts and back support.
- Use of ergonomic chairs or mattress. Most people experiencing upper back pains are those slouched in front of the computer for prolonged periods. Chairs designed to follow the contour of the spine prevents muscle tension. Humans spend six to eight hours of sleep and an ergonomic mattress can prevent upper back pain because it helps relax the muscles, provides back support and comfort.
- Massage therapy, joint manipulations or acupuncture. Joint dysfunction of the ribs and vertebrae can result to upper back pain. Manual manipulation by a chiropractor, osteopathic physician or certified physical therapist can reduce the discomfort and mobilize the joint. To prolong relief, home exercises program for spine and shoulder stretching with strengthening, and aerobic conditioning should be done religiously. Before going through these options, the upper back pain should not be caused by herniated discs or fractures because these manipulations can aggravate underlying cause.
Here is a great exercise you can try to relieve upper back pain.
And here is another simple self massage exercise that helps you to relieve and prevent upper back pan.
For more back pain relief exercises check out Good Relaxation Online Courses.
Upper back pains are usually caused by a non life-threatening condition that warrants immediate medical intervention. However, if those listed above do not help to prevent upper back pain with increasing pain intensity or hinders the performance of everyday activities, it is important to consult a medical professional. Other medical conditions can have symptoms that radiate to the back that leads to patients perceiving this as a simple upper back pain when in truth, it may be a gallbladder disease or cancer. Early detection and management of these conditions can prevent upper back pain and improve overall well-being.
Photo: rachel a. k.