Upper back pain also referred to as middle back pain is the kind of pain that is felt in the region of the thoracic vertebrae. This region is located between the lower part of the neck and the upper part of the lumbar spine. The ribs are attached to a long and flat bone on the chest, also known as the sternum. The ribs attach to this bone and also extends around the back. However, if there is any injury or irritations to the nerves in this region, you’d feel the pain in other parts of the body, such as the arm, thighs, abdomen, and so on.
The upper and middle part of the back consist of;
- Twelve vertebrae bones: These bones are attached to the sternum in the front, and also goes around to the back.
- Vertebral discs: The discs are pad-like materials that separate the vertebrae from one another. The purpose of the discs is to provide a cushion and absorb any shock that might be exerted on the vertebrae.
- Muscles and ligaments: The muscles and ligaments hold the vertebrae and the spine together.
Pain in the upper and middle back are not as predominant as the lower back pain. This can be attributed to the rigidity of the bones in this part of the body. The bones of the upper back work to stabilize the back, and also protects the important organs in the thoracic cavity. Examples of these organs include the heart and the lungs. Upper back pain is usually self-limiting, and in most cases, do not require serious evaluation. Although, severe upper back pain does call for serious and effective pain management.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Upper Back Pain?
Patients affected by upper back pain do present with the following signs and symptoms;
- a. Dull pain, burning or sharp pain especially in the upper or middle part of the back.
- Burning pain that migrates from the lower part of the back to the back of the thighs. The pain can sometimes move to the lower legs and feet.
- The patient might experience pain that starts abruptly or slowly get worse.
- The patient might experience pain, especially after sitting or standing for a period of time.
- Pain and difficulty standing up, walking or sitting after standing for a while.
- Patients might experience constant pain or one that comes and go.
- Some of the serious symptoms of upper back pain include weakness in the arms or legs.
- Patients might present with the numbness of the arms, legs, chest and the abdomen.
- Patients might lose control of their bladder and also the loss of bowel control.
What Are the Causes of Upper Back Pain?
- Upper back pain is mostly caused by the overuse, muscle strain, and injury to the components of the spine, such as the muscles, ligaments, and vertebral discs which absorbs shock, and support the spine.
- Posture: Bad posture is one of the causes of upper back pain. This is more predominant in people who lift weights in the gym with a wrong posture or positioning.
- Myofascial pain: This is the kind of pain that affects the connective tissue of muscle.
- Osteoarthritis: This is a condition in which the cartilage in the joints of the spine degenerates. This could lead the bones to grind against each other causing a lot of pain for the individual. This tends to happen the older one becomes.
- Fracture of the vertebrae: This happens when excess force is exerted on the spine. This force can be from a road traffic accident or other forms of mechanical injury to the spine. Compression fracture happens when an injury to the spinal bones causes them to be crushed or break. In addition, osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones of the body become weak. This causes the bones of the body to be prone to fracture and injury.
- Herniated disc: The discs of the vertebrae are prone to injury. However, this tends to occur more as one age. This is why disc injuries are more predominant in adults. A herniated disc is one of the most common forms of disc injury. This is a condition in which the cartilage that surrounds the vertebral disc pushes into the spinal cord. This might also affect the nerve roots. In this condition, the cushion that normally sits between the vertebrae discs slips out of position, which leads to the compression and crush of the nerve root. Injury to the vertebral disc usually occurs after the individual lifts something heavy, or twists the back. Pain from the injury of the vertebral disc can last for up to 3 days before it subsides.
- Other causes: People also do experience pain when they get involved in an accident or lift a load that is too heavy. Other causes of back pain include tripping or slumping.
- Spinal stenosis: This is a condition in which the spinal column becomes constricted. This puts some kind of pressure on the content of the spinal column, which includes the spinal cord and the spinal nerves. This would eventually lead to the compression of the nerves and also the other components of the column. The patient might experience signs and symptoms such as numbness in the leg, weakness, and cramping. It’s common for patients to feel the intensity of the pain more when they stand or try to walk. Although, spinal stenosis tends to affect the lower back part predominantly. It also occurs in the upper back part.
Diagnosis Of Upper Back Pain
Upper back pain does not usually require any imaging test. However, in cases where there is a weakness of the legs, bowel, and falling. The physician might order for an MRI imaging test to be done.
Treatment Of Upper Back Pain
Some of the management procedures for upper back pain include;
- Physical therapy
- Medications: Some of the medications used in the treatment of upper back pain include Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Back pain. (2017). NHS .uk. Retrieved 20 April 2018, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/back-pain/
Back Pain. (2018). National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Retrieved 20 April 2018, from https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/back-pain
Back Pain | PainDoctor.com. (2013). Pain Doctor. Retrieved 20 April 2018, from https://paindoctor.com/conditions/back-pain/
DerSarkissian, C. (2018). Causes of Back Pain. WebMD. Retrieved 20 April 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/causes-back-pain#1
Gerard Malanga, M. (2018). Which Medications Are Best for Acute Low Back Pain?. SpineUniverse. Retrieved 20 April 2018, from https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/back-pain/low-back-pain/conclusion-acute-low-back-pain-medication
Peggy Pletcher, C. (2017). Back pain: Causes, symptoms, and treatments. Medical News Today. Retrieved 20 April 2018, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/172943.php
Watson, S. (2011). Top Causes of Low Back Pain. WebMD. Retrieved 20 April 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/features/causes#1