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Upper Back Pain Symptoms

Upper back pain is a moderately common complaint but not as frequent as the reports of neck pain or lower back pain. Further information about upper back pain can be accessed at Wikipedia's upper back pain page and more general back pain information at NHS Choices.

Upper back pain is often referred pain from the anatomical structures in the neck such as the joints or discs, and may spread to be shoulder blade pain or feel like upper back muscle pain.

Upper back pain symptoms vary greatly but include the sharp and limiting pain of an injured joint whilst lifting or twisting in an awkward posture to the persistent and nagging pain which develops after a period sat at a desk or using a computer.

Due to the sedentary lifestyles and working positions many people undertake, neck and upper back structures are stressed in poor positions for long periods of time, causing changes which eventually become painful and more troublesome with time. Upper back pain between shoulder blades is a typical example of this frustrating and difficult to treat pain.

Upper back pain is often known as middle back pain although I have divided upper and middle to mean that upper is from the low neck to the sixth thoracic vertebra and middle is from the sixth down to the lumbar spine at the twelfth thoracic vertebra.

These areas of the spine can also be the areas where pain is referred from many internal organs so a physiotherapist could be presented with lung pain or abdominal organ pain and needs to be aware of when to request a medical review.

Physiotherapists assess and treat upper and mid back problems and can use a variety of techniques to help back pain relief such as manipulation, mobilisation techniques, postural correction and advice, fitness programmes and more specific exercises for the area. They may also be able to help with upper back pain during pregnancy although this problem is less common than pain from the low back or sacroiliac joints.

Patients often ask why they have upper back pain left side or right side and there may be no particular reason for this apart from the fact that joint injuries and stresses rarely occur exactly symmetrically so one-sided pain is common.


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