Back pain is one of the most common ailments, and 80 percent of Americans will experience it at some point in their life. Fortunately, however, there are effective treatments and preventative measures that can help manage or eliminate the pain.
While lower back pain, as the most common form of back pain, gets the majority of attention, upper and middle back pain can be just as debilitating when it does occur.
The thorax is the area of the body that includes the upper-spine, going from the base of the neck to the top of the lumbar, or lower back. The upper back contains 12 vertebrae that are attached to the ribs, forming a protective space for our internal organs.
Pain in the upper back can be caused by injury, a lack of conditioning, or from the spinal stress that frequently occurs from sitting for long periods of time. The upper region of the spine is also susceptible to herniated or bulging discs. People who are overweight or who don’t exercise are more susceptible to conditions of the upper back.
Treatment for back pain varies depending upon the severity. While there are prescription and over-the-counter medications available to treat upper and middle back pain, the preferred treatment is physical therapy or exercise. Physical therapies might include massage, heat or ice treatments, and acupuncture or acupressure.
Stretching exercises, in particular, can be helpful. Your practitioner may give you an exercise regimen and will show you proper form. Proper form in exercise helps you to avoid exacerbating the very pain that you’re seeking to remedy. Contrary to a commonly-held belief, extended bed rest and no activity is not a recommended treatment. In fact, rest and/or immobility for more than 48 hours could actually cause harm, and is not advised.
If you have a sedentary job, make a point of frequently getting out of your chair. Moving about can alleviate tension in your upper back, and help prevent thoracic back pain from starting, or from re-occurring.