The upper back is a complex part of the human body, with many joints and interlacing muscles. Although the upper back is less likely to be injured than the lower back (lumbar region) or the neck (cervical region), several patients will visit our chiropractic clinic in Ealing with upper back complaints each week.
In this guide, our Ealing chiropractor shares some information on the physiology of the upper back and also identify the most common upper back problems we see at The Spine & Jpint Centre in Ealing.
Physiology Of The Upper Back
The muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons in the upper back play an important role in supporting the body. They help you stand tall, twist your torso, bend over, control your limbs and perform other basic movements. The strength and condition of your upper back will largely determine the quality of your posture, balance and mobility.
There are many muscles in the upper back, including the:
- Trapezius muscle
Running from the neck down to the middle back and along the shoulders.
- Latissimus dorsi muscle
A sheathe of muscle which runs from the pelvis to the bottom of the upper back
- Rhomboid minor muscle
A small muscle that connects the scapula with the vertebrae of the spinal column
- Rhomboid major muscle
A larger muscle that works with the rhomboid minor muscle
- Teres major muscle
A thick muscle that helps there shoulder joint move
- Longissimus muscle(Musculus longissimus)
The longest muscle in the back, it spans the length of the entire vertebral column.
The thoracic spine is also located in the upper back. This is a sturdy part of the spine which is responsible for supporting the neck and rib cage, as well as a variety of blood vessels, soft tissues and nerves. The two most important roles of the thoracic spine are to support the rib cage and protect the spinal cord from damage.
The thoracic spine is less flexible and has a smaller range of motion than the cervical or lumbar spine. Although it has better axial rotation than other parts of the spine, it does not side/forward/backward bend as easily.
Common Causes Of Upper Back Pain
The most common reasons why a patient will visit our chiropractor in Ealing with upper back pain include:
Most of the muscle strains we see at out clinic have occurred while the patient was playing sports, lifting heavy objects or twisting at an awkward angle. Strains are particularly common amongst the muscle groups near the shoulder blades, as they are easily injured when rotating the arms too far forward or at an awkward angle.
The symptoms of a muscle strain in the upper back include sudden onset of pain, muscle spasms, soreness, bruising or discolouration, swelling, limited movement and stiffness. Several different treatments may be used to relieve muscle pain including physical therapy, massage and myofascial release.
The thoracic spine is a complicated part of the body, with 220 separate joints. The number of joint interactions and complex movements facilitated by this part of the spine are astonishing.
There are a variety of injuries and diseases which can impact the joints in the thoracic spine. Many of these conditions can be resolved by obtaining chiropractic treatments including the High-Velocity Low-Amplitude (HVLA) thrust technique, articulatory, spinal mobilisation, and soft tissue therapy.
Our chiropractor can also provide ergonomic training to help you address any issues which may be causing or exacerbating joint dysfunction.
Thoracic outlet syndrome
This condition occurs when nerves of the brachial plexus are compressed. This compression causes pain, pins and needles, and numbness anywhere along the path of the affected nerve (typically along the hands and arms).
A chiropractor can help by providing manual trigger-point therapy, myofascial release and stretching techniques. They may also provide spinal adjustments when necessary.
Thoracic shoulder dysfunction
One of the main tasks of the upper back and thoracic spine is to facilitate shoulder movement. Unfortunately, the complex design of the shoulder area makes it prone to injury. Chiropractic care can be used to resolve many common shoulder problems through joint adjustments and soft tissue therapy.
If you are suffering from upper back pain, our chiropractor is here to help you. To make an appointment with our chiropractic clinic call 020 8900 9004.