What Causes Upper Back And Shoulder Pain
Pain between the shoulders can happen for many reasons, including:
- Poor posture which leads to muscle imbalances
- Picking up something too heavy such as a suitcase, box, child, or even the laundry
- Hunching over a computer all day
- Dysfunction occurring elsewhere in the body such as the lower cervical spine, upper thoracic spine, or rotator cuff
Risk Factors For Developing Upper Back Pain
There tends to be an increased risk for back pain as a person ages, but that correlation does not hold up as well in the upper back compared to the neck and lower back. Some research indicates that adolescentsparticularly older adolescentsare at higher risk for upper back pain compared to other age groups.1
Other risk factors for developing upper back pain include having weakened core and back muscles, female gender, other musculoskeletal pain, and poorer mental health.2
Exercises To Relax The Neck And Relieve Pain
Try these simple exercises to reduce tension and pain throughout the day.
Seated neck stretch
Sit erect on a hard chair, or cross-legged on the floor
Place one hand beneath the edge of your chair or on the floor next to your hip
Place the fingertips of your other hand above the opposite ear
Gently press against your head, pulling it toward your opposite shoulder
Adjust your head position to target tight spots
Breathe deeply and hold for 10-30 seconds
Stand or sit with your spine erect, arms relaxed at your sides
Inhale and draw your shoulders up toward your ears
Hold for 3-5 seconds
Exhale and drop your shoulders, releasing tension
Repeat 3-5 times
Stand erect, feet hip-width, chin parallel to floor
Clasp your hands behind your back
Lift your chest and inhale deeply
Exhale, relax, repeat
For a greater challenge, pull your clasped hands away from your body
For an even greater challenge, hinge forward from your hips and lift your arms away from your body
Seated trunk rotation
Sit erect on a hard chair
Place one hand behind the chair back
Place the other hand on the opposite knee
Inhale deeply, then exhale and rotate your spine, gazing over your shoulder
Hold for 15-30 seconds
Repeat to opposite side
Seated shoulder rolls
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Neck Pain Upper Back Pain Shoulder Pain Could It Be Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
If you have headaches, neck pain, neck stiffness, back spasms, muscle pain, back pain, shoulder pain, and pain between the shoulder blades, numbness and tingling, you may have thoracic outlet syndrome .
TOS is caused by compression of the neck, upper back, rib cage and the shoulder that squeeze the blood vessels and nerves that pass from the chest and neck through the thoracic tunnel into the arm.
TOS is one of the most controversial conditions in medicine. For most patients there thoracic outlet syndrome is overlooked and misdiagnosed leaving them suffering needlessly in chronic pain for months and even years.
Then one day, someone says, Could it be thoracic outlet syndrome?
Over the last 30 years, studies confirm that doctors knowledge of the basic anatomy has dipped below a safe and acceptable level.
That is why their exams cant determine if you have TOS or one of these similar conditions:
What if you have a combination of a few of these conditions? It happens a lot!
Confused, doctors order an MRI. You think they are getting down to business but sadly doctors know they cant diagnose or determine the cause of TOS with an MRI.If you are misdiagnosed, their treatment approach wont work.
This book has an entire chapter on how to back-check your doctors diagnosis.
None of them!
What is the human spring approach?
Tired of suffering? Scroll up and get a copy of this book, now!
When To See A Doctor
If your neck or back is injured by a blow, like when youre playing football, or in a car accident, see a doctor immediately. You could be facing a concussion or internal injuries. Experiencing any numbness is also a sign that you should check in with your healthcare provider. If you try treating your pain at home and it doesnt resolve after two weeks, see your doctor.
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How People Describe This Pain Pattern
People often complain of pain in the upper neck with soreness on the top of the shoulder. Often, they are focused on the pain in the upper neck than the top of their shoulder. Many patterns create pain and tension at the top of the neck. This referral pattern is not among the most common patterns that refer to the upper neck. However, when it becomes chronic when the whole shoulder becomes achy.
How Do Health Care Professionals Diagnose Shoulder And Neck Pain
A thorough history and physical examination are usually adequate to establish the diagnosis for most injuries. However, your doctor may do a series of tests, depending on the cause of your injury, the location of your pain, or your other symptoms. The list is extensive and may include X-rays, an electrocardiogram , blood tests, and CT scans.
- X-rays: These may be done if you have tenderness to touch along the bony areas of your spine or shoulder, a history of significant trauma, deformity of the area, or your doctor suspects a condition related to your heart or lungs.
A treatment plan will be developed after a complete history and physical examination . Treatment options vary for each condition. Clearly, a simple strain is treated far differently than a heart attack.
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Chest And Back Pain: Causes And Symptoms
Have you ever felt pain in your chest and back at the same time and you dont know what it is? This is more common than you think and these pains can indicate the presence of an alteration in your body.
A pain in the chest or upper back can indicate a disorder of the esophagus, the beginning of heart disease, muscle or bone problems, among others. The appearance of these pains in both areas can create confusion as to whether it is a gastric or cardiovascular ailment.
Next, in this FastlyHealarticle, you will have all the information about chest and back pain , what are its causes, symptoms and how to treat it .
Activities That May Cause Neck Pain
Neck pain is often caused by a strain or spasm of the neck muscles or inflammation of the neck joints. Examples of common activities that may cause this type of minor injury include:
- Holding your head in a forward posture or odd position while working, watching TV, or reading.
- Sleeping on a pillow that is too high or too flat or that doesn’t support your head, or sleeping on your stomach with your neck twisted or bent.
- Spending long periods of time resting your forehead on your upright fist or arm .
- Stress. Tension may make the muscles that run from the back of the head across the back of the shoulder feel tight and painful.
- Work or exercise that uses your upper body and arms.
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How Are Back And Neck Pain Diagnosed
If you experience neck or back pain, you should see your health care provider for a medical and physical exam. He or she may also do X-rays of the affected areas, as well as magnetic resonance imaging . This allows a more complete view. The MRI produces pictures of soft tissues as well, such as ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels. The MRI could lead to a diagnosis of infection, tumor, inflammation, or pressure on your nerve. Sometimes a blood test may help diagnose arthritis, a condition that can cause back and neck pain.
Pressure On The Spinal Nerves
Herniated discs can be caused by lifting heavy objects or by injuries, such as whiplash. This condition is also referred to as a slipped or ruptured disc. When a disc in your back ruptures, pressure may be placed on the spinal nerves.
A herniated disc occurs if the soft inside of a spinal disc pushes out, bulging through a tear in its outer coating. Herniated discs are most common in the lower back, but can also occur in the neck, causing pain in the upper back. They may be more likely to occur in people who are overweight, or in older people.
Other symptoms of a herniated disc include:
- arm or shoulder pain that may be made worse by coughing or sneezing
- tingling sensation
- muscle weakness in the arm or shoulder
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How To Treat Upper Back Pain
- Ice or heat packs
- Over-the-counter medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , or acetaminophen
- Manual therapy, such as physical therapy, massage, Thai yoga massage, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation
- Exercise, Pilates, or yoga
Change your sleeping position
- Keep your spine in a neutral position by using a different mattress or foam mattress topper for additional support or using pillows to support your spine.
- Sleep in a different position, such as sleeping on your back or alternating sides if you are a side sleeper.
- Invest in a supportive and just-right pillow for your head and neck curvature, says Holland.
Stretch your upper back
Consult with your doctor if problems persist
How Are Back And Neck Pain Treated
If you experience acute back or neck pain, it may simply improve with some rest. Over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, may also help with the discomfort. You should try to move gently during this period, so that you will not become stiff and lose mobility.
If you have chronic pain of your back and neck, you should try several remedies that may be helpful, before seeking surgical options. These include:
Hot or cold packs
Specific exercises to strengthen muscles and ease pain, such as stretching and flexing. Your health care provider can provide and demonstrate these exercises.
Aerobic exercise may be permitted and can help with your overall fitness and strength
Certain anti-inflammatory medications or muscle relaxants may be used, with your health care providers supervision
Braces or corsets for extra support
Injections for pain relief in the area
Nerve block, which decreases pain signals from the affected nerve
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Fixing Upper Back And Neck Pain
Upper back and neck pain can stop you in your tracks, making it difficult to go about your typical day. The reasons behind this discomfort vary, but they all come down to how we hold ourselves while standing, moving, and most important of all sitting.
Neck and upper back pain can limit your movements and capabilities. If you dont do anything about your pains, they can get worse, spread, and limit you further. This is usually because the muscles around your immediate area of pain have tensed up to protect that one spot. That expansion limits movement and can turn one clenched muscle under your shoulder blade into a painful shoulder and a tension headache.
Causes of upper back and neck pain include:
- improperly lifting something heavy
Our love of screens is also a likely culprit in upper back and neck pain. Sitting all day working on a computer screen, craning your neck to read the news on your phone on the way home, and slumping on the couch to watch several hours of television are great ways to throw your body out of alignment.
Like many health conditions, the effects of neck and back pain can be more severe in people who smoke or are overweight. Excess weight can add more pressure on the muscles.
Symptoms Of Chest And Back Pain
The symptoms with which chest and back pain manifests will vary depending on the cause that originates them.
Some of the symptoms that can occur if it is due to heart problems or diseases are:
- Crushing pain in the chest that radiates to the back, neck, jaw, arms and shoulders.
- Discomfort that can increase with physical activity, these appear and disappear intermittently.
- Cold sweating
Other symptoms may be related to gastric disorders or other problems :
- Difficulty to swallow.
- Sour taste in the mouth.
- Sensation of food being returned to the mouth.
- Discomfort that increases when you breathe or cough.
- Tenderness in the chest when touched.
- Stabbing muscle pain
- Pain in the back that radiates to the lower limbs.
- Discomfort in the back, which is worse when performing movements such as getting up, walking or standing.
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The Serious Consequences Of Delaying Treatment
If you have a compressed nerve in your neck and you delay your treatment, you can wind up with shooting, electrical-like pain extending into your back and all the way down your arms. Over time, a pinched nerve can cause your muscles to become weak, and it can interfere with your ability to use your hands. Eventually, that damage can become permanent, which means delaying care could result in a lifetime of disability.
Of course, that doesnt mean you should ignore muscle strain either. When you strain a muscle, it can cause inflammation which can, in turn, presses on nerves. Or, you might wind up compensating for the strain by putting excess pressure on other areas of your neck and shoulders, which can also press on nerves. What does that mean? Even a seemingly minor muscle strain can wind up causing nerve compression, which can then cause serious and even permanent damage. The bottom line is pretty simple: Any type of chronic neck pain that goes on for days on end without relief needs to be seen and evaluated by a medical professional.
Do I Need A Scan Do I Need To See A Specialist
As mentioned previously, in the majority of cases, scans and investigations are not required to diagnose and manage your neck pain. Likewise, the vast majority of neck pain presentations resolve without the need to consult a specialist.
Check out this interesting article that explains what a doctor will consider before referring you for scans, as well as the pitfalls of unnecessary scanning:
B/ Deteriorating neurological signs
Worsening numbness, weakness and tingling or inability to normally use your bladder or bowel are classed as deteriorating neurological signs.
If any of the above worsen then medical advice is needed ASAP. Especially if you lose bladder or bowel function, it can be a medical emergency. Seek urgent medical care.
C/ Symptoms not improving over time despite good conservative management
In general, if you have had symptoms persisting greater than 6- 12 weeks despite help from your GP or Physio then it can be warranted to get an XR to help rule out any red flags or other structural issues.
Have a talk to your GP or Physio and discuss a plan for investigating your back pain further. Often these tests are all clear, which is great! It will mean that your back pain will just take a little more time to improve with the right guidance and advice from your medical team.
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Am I Likely To Get Back Pain
Several factors can increase your chances of having upper and middle back pain. Among them:
- Age.Back pain starts for most people in their 30s or 40s, and itâs more common the older you get.
- Being out of shape. The stronger the muscles in your back, shoulder, and abdomen, the lower your chance of injury.
- Weight. If you carry extra pounds, you put more strain on your back.
- Underlying conditions. Diseases such as arthritis and cancer can cause back pain.
- Smoking. Smokerâs cough can strain your back. And if you smoke, you may be slower to heal, which can make your back pain last longer.
Possible Reasons For Interscapular Pain
Pain between the shoulder blades, otherwise known as interscapular pain, can have many causes. While this symptom is commonly caused by muscle strain, it’s important to be aware that it may also be a sign of something more serious, such as a heart attack or lung cancer.
Pain is your body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong, so it’s important to find a reason for what’s troubling you.
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The Ache Wont Go Away
Youve tried the DIY treatments, gotten massages, and maybe even bought a new mattress. If your upper back is persistently hurting, it mayvery rarelybe a sign of a lung tumor. The American Cancer Society points out that advanced lung cancer may contribute to bone pain. Weight loss, chest pain, and weakness are also signs of lung cancer.
Get The Right Treatment For Neck And Shoulder Pain
Persistent or chronic pain in your neck or shoulder need to be medically evaluated. Without a doctors care, your symptoms can become a lot worse. Dr. Geoffrey Van Thiel offers advanced options for neck and shoulder pain relief, helping patients from all over Wisconsin and Illinois including Rockford, Elgin, Huntley, Dekalb, Crystal Lake, Barrington, McHenry, Beloit and Algonquin. To find out whats causing your painful symptoms, schedule an appointment with Dr. Van Thiel today.
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Treatment Of Pain Between Shoulder Blades And Neck
The first step in treating shoulder or neck pain is proper diagnosis by a specialist. Failure to treat these symptoms in the early stages can lead to increased pain or permanent nerve damage, if not treated properly.
Most of us spend an average of two hours in our car, driving every day at work, dropping off children in school or sports and just going about our daily activities. Our backs are in a slippery state at the moment, our neck is pushed forward so that the fatigue of the muscles around the neck and shoulder after a short period and in our middle the spine becomes stiff and painful. Here are my top 5 exercises to try to get in and out of the car
- Advanced trapezius activation
- Bow and arrow for upper spine
- Automatic activation of your cuff rotator muscles
- Keeping one leg to activate your gluteus maximus muscles
- Multifidus muscle strength
Although we cannot change the amount of time we spend in a car, we can do several exercises to reduce pressure on the neck, middle and lower extremities by placing strong muscles and joints on the phone in these areas.
2. Position yourself for success
How you sit when you work makes a difference. While your home may not be the ideal environment for long-term work, do all you can to protect your joints and muscles. It can be a good idea to look at your home with equipment, such as many books to increase your monitoring and get yourself and your equipment the right way.
3. Best sleep position