Upper back, increased stability, lack of motion, protecting chest and organs.
When looking at back pain it is important to separate the back into 3 parts, the upper back, the neck and the lower back.
When you separate the three you can begin to understand how the back works and what it is that causes pain in each area.
For the purposes of this article, looking at the upper back, it is common knowledge among doctors, chiropractors, masseurs and so on, that pain in the upper back is most often not caused by problems with the spine such as, degenerated discs because these cases are very rare. The function of the spine in this part of the back is to protect the chest and the vital organs that are housed within them. Because of this function the spine here is very stable, very strong and lacks the same flexibility and mobility of the lower back and neck. It is because of this strength and lack of movement that is the least susceptible part of the spine to injury.
Although not a spinal problem, upper back pain can be very uncomfortable and painful, causing shoulder pain, neck pain and back pain. The cause of upper back pain is more often than not muscular. Upper back pain can occur as a result of trauma or sudden injury, or it can occur through strain or poor posture over time. As more and more people work in offices sat at computers, the case of upper back pain has increased. This is because sitting down for long periods of time with poor posture, affects your back and causes the discomfort, along the neck and shoulders. Treatments for this kind of back pain are in the main, non invasive and non medicinal. They include, massage therapy, exercises, active/passive physical therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation. This is because there may be a lack of strength, an overuse such as repetitive motions. Muscle strains, sports injuries, automobile accidents, and other injuries can all result in upper back pain. As muscular pain in the upper back often involves very large muscles across the shoulders and back, a lot of stretching and exercising is usually part of the treatment. As muscle pain can be likely due to some form of inflammation many people choose to take anti-inflammatory painkillers such as Ibuprofen to help with the pain and the problem.
Upper back pain is more often than not muscular but there are other causes. Another less common cause of back pain is, Joint dysfunction. This is when there is a dysfunction in the joints that connect to ribs on to the two sides of the vertebrae. This type of back pain is usually treated with non-invasive manipulations also from a chiropractor or osteopathic physician to help mobilize the joint and reduce irritation. Most treatments for this type of back pain involve home exercises and and stretching to strengthen the back and improve posture. Along side these treatments many people are advised to again try anti-inflammatory pain killers such as ibuprofen.
There are many ways we can prevent or help to reduce our risks of back pain. These include, working on our posture (when standing: feet apart, knees straight, chin slightly tucked in, shoulders straight), having correct sleeping habits, doing back strengthening exercises, lifting heavy objects correctly and maintaining proper neck support when driving, sitting etc…