Upper Back Pain & Injury

john miller physiotherapist

Article by John Miller

Upper Back Pain

upper back pain

Upper back pain (or thoracic pain) is one of the most common injuries in modern society. Injuries can vary from simple to complex. They can also result from posture or fatigue strain injuries, lifting injuries, falls or even as a result of arm use eg throwing injury.

The following links provide upper back pain and thoracic spine injury information plus guidance. For specific advice specific to your upper back pain, please consult your spinal health practitioner or doctor.

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Common Sources of Upper Back Pain & Injury

upper back pain 

General Information

Joint Injuries

Muscle-related Injuries

Bone-related Injuries

Disc-related Injuries

Nerve-related / Referred Pain

Systemic Diseases

Thoracic Spine Red Flags

red flag

While most upper back pain is quite straightforward from a diagnostic perspective and it responds quickly to treatment, there are other potential sources of thoracic cage and chest pain that can be more sinister and require urgent intervention.

Cardiac conditions and malignancy are just a couple of potentially life-changing sources of upper back pain that should be investigated and treatment without delay. Due to the thoracic spine being more likely to be caused by a serious pathology when compared to your neck or lower back, it is also wise to consult with your trusted healthcare practitioner. You should certainly consult with your healthcare practitioner if you have any of the following red flags

Red Flags

Red flags for possible serious spinal pathology include:

  • History of cancer, drug abuse, HIV, immunosuppression or prolonged use of corticosteroids.
  • Fever, chills, unexplained weight loss, or recent bacterial infection.
  • Pain that is:
    • Constant, severe and progressive.
    • Non-mechanical without relief from bed rest or postural modification.
    • Unchanged despite treatment for 2-4 weeks.
    • Accompanied by severe morning stiffness (rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis).
  • Recent violent trauma (such as a vehicle accident or a fall from a height) or a spine structure deformity.
  • Minor trauma, or even just strenuous lifting, in people with osteoporosis.
  • New back pain with an age at onset < 20 or > 50 years of age.
  • Severe or progressive neurological deficit (muscle weakness, loss of sensation/reflexes) in the lower extremities.
If you feel that you have any of the above symptoms, we recommend an urgent medical assessment.

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Common Upper Back Pain Treatments

upper back pain treatment

Thoracic or upper back pain treatment may include any of the following treatment options depending upon your helathcare practitioners assessment and treatment plan.

  • Bed Rest
  • Early Injury Treatment
  • Avoid the HARM Factors
  • Soft Tissue Injury? What are the Healing Phases?
  • What to do after a Muscle Strain or Ligament Sprain?
  • Acupuncture and Dry Needling
  • Sub-Acute Soft Tissue Injury Treatment
  • Core Exercises
  • Scapular Stabilisation Exercises
  • Biomechanical Analysis
  • Proprioception & Balance Exercises
  • Medications?
  • Soft Tissue Massage
  • Brace or Support
  • Dry Needling
  • Electrotherapy & Local Modalities
  • Heat Packs
  • Joint Mobilisation Techniques
  • Kinesiology Tape
  • Neurodynamics
  • Physiotherapy Instrument Mobilisation (PIM)
  • Prehabilitation
  • Scapulohumeral Rhythm Exercises
  • Strength Exercises
  • Stretching Exercises
  • Supportive Taping & Strapping
  • TENS Machine
  • Video Analysis
  • Yoga
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    FAQs about Upper Back Pain

  • Common Physiotherapy Treatment Techniques
  • What Causes Back Pain?
  • What is Pain?
  • Physiotherapy & Exercise
  • When Should Diagnostic Tests Be Performed?
  • Massage Styles and their Benefits
  • What Causes Post-Exercise Muscular Pain?
  • What are the Best Core Exercises?
  • Can Kinesiology Taping Reduce Your Swelling and Bruising?
  • Chest Pain: Is it a Heart Attack or Your Spine?
  • Cluster Headaches? Free Online Test
  • Headache or Migraine... What to do?
  • Heat Packs. Why does heat feel so good?
  • How Does an Exercise Ball Help Back Pain?
  • How Much Treatment Will You Need?
  • How to Achieve the Best Standing Posture
  • Posture Trainer? Check out the BackTone 4000
  • What are the Benefits of a Standing Desk?
  • What are the Benefits of Good Posture?
  • What are the Common Adolescent Spinal Injuries?
  • What are the Common Massage Therapy Techniques?
  • What are the Early Warning Signs of an Injury?
  • What are the Healthiest Sleeping Postures?
  • What are the Signs of an Unsupportive Pillow?
  • What Can You Do To Help Arthritis?
  • What Causes Repeat Low Back Strains & Sprains?
  • What is a TENS Machine?
  • What is Chronic Pain?
  • What is Good Standing Posture?
  • What is Nerve Pain?
  • What is Sports Physiotherapy?
  • What is the Correct Way to Sit?
  • What to do when you suffer back pain?
  • What's the Benefit of Stretching Exercises?
  • When Can You Return to Sport?
  • Which are the Deep Core Stability Muscles?
  • Why are Your Deep Core Muscles Important?
  • Why does Back Pain Recur?
  • Why Kinesiology Tape Helps Reduce Swelling and Bruising Quicker
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    Upper Back Pain

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    Last updated 25-Jul-2018 04:31 PM

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