Chronic Upper Back Pain

By Sally Ann Quirke, Chartered Physiotherapist | Filed under: Upper Back Pain


Upper Back Pain symptoms
Chronic Upper Back Pain

Chronic Upper Back Pain

Chronic upper back pain is a pain in your upper back that lasts longer than 6 weeks. It is a common presentation in my physiotherapy clinic - often because some people delay too long before they seek treatment and before they know it, over six weeks have passed! The most common causes that I see are:

  1. Long-term poor posture.
  2. Unresolved whiplash injuries.
  3. Overuse injuries.
  4. Genetic conditions.

As I have stated in the Causes of Upper Back Pain, lack of a good posture will always lead to pain in your upper back in my opinion. If you sit, or stand, for long periods of time in a poor posture you will eventually end up with pain. This is due to your muscles, ligaments, nerves and discs being placed under undue stress due to poor posture.

When these structures are placed under stress they will eventually break down causing pain and dysfunction. The treatment for this condition requires posture correction and manual treatment to the structures that are strained.

Unresolved whiplash injuries also cause upper back pain both directly from the structures that you damaged at the time of the accident and from the poor posture which you develop to ease your pain. Over time this leads to strain and eventual pain. Treatment should be directed to the whiplash injury and the correction of posture where indicated.

Overuse injuries often cause upper back pain because of the strain your muscles and other soft tissues are put under over time. The treatment for this upper back pain is to stop the overuse movement where possible or else change the way that you do it.

Subsequently, you may need to have treatment on the structures that are strained. Your Physiotherapist or Physical Therapist will tell you what to do.

Genetic conditions include Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and scoliosis.

Treating Chronic Upper Back Pain

Treatment is individual in each case and will largely depend on the cause. The important aspect of treatment relies on the cause of the problem being addressed primarily followed by back strengthening exercises and posture exercises.

Remember - you can always treat the symptoms of a condition, even where you cannot always cure the underlying condition. Seek the right advice.

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While the content and materials contained in the articles on this website have been written & researched by Sally Ann Quirke, a professional, practising & fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) based in Ireland, they are provided for general information and educational purposes only. They do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.

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