Upper back pain or thoracic pain is a very common type of back pain that is experienced either by itself or in combination with other musculoskeletal issues in the body. It is mainly due to tension in the muscles in the upper back and osteopaths are well trained to manage the symptoms.


Symptoms of upper back pain

Pain is commonly felt in the junctional area between our lower neck and upper back and can spread across to your shoulders on either or both sides. Pain can also be felt down either or both sides of the upper spine and down between the shoulder blades. Upper back pain can also be felt over our shoulder blades, on either or both sides.

Upper thoracic pain can also be related to referred pain down the arm or shoulder or up into the neck. Some people may also experience cervicogenic headaches related to the muscle tension in the upper back.

Causes of upper back pain

The osteopaths at the Brisbane Osteopathic Centre can treat the musculoskeletal causes of upper back pain.

The most common cause of pain is tight muscles in the upper back associated with tension and dysfunction in the upper spine. This can also be associated with tension in the rib cage that affects how the ribs move with the spine and the muscles in the back and between the ribs.

Shoulder dysfunction, including how your shoulder blade and collarbone are working, can be related to upper back pain.

Neck and lower back dysfunction can also be related to upper back pain due to abnormal compensation through the mid/upper back region.

Digestive issues and diaphragm tension can also have an indirect impact on upper thoracic pain.

The most common causes of muscle and spine tension in the upper back area are poor posture, vehicle accidents, and repetitive strain injuries.

Tension in the ribs from breathing disorders can also cause upper back pain e.g. recurring coughs and asthma. Even though osteopaths are not qualified to treat the acute symptoms of a breathing disorder, they can help with the rib and muscle tension that may result from a chronic breathing disorder.

Osteopathic treatment for upper back pain

The osteopaths at the Brisbane Osteopathic Centre take a gentle holistic approach to upper back pain. They look at any specific imbalance and dysfunction in the upper back (i.e. your ribs and spine) region to relieve muscle tension and pain. In conjunction with that they take into consideration the biomechanics of your shoulder, neck, lower spine, and pelvis and relieve any asymmetry and tension. This will help the upper back work under less strain and load that will make your upper back move better with less pain.

Advice may be given on how to manage any repetitive strain that may be occurring that could be contributing to your upper back pain. An example of this would be improving your posture at work if you have an office job and need to improve the ergonomics of your work area. Stretching exercises may also be recommended to manage the muscle tension in the upper back.