Upper back pain, or more specifically thoracic pain, is a common complaint experienced by patients presenting to our clinic. It is rarely an isolated presentation and is often associated with concurrent conditions of the neck, shoulder(s), and ribs.

Symptoms of Upper Back Pain

Upper back pain often presents as ache and can be related to pain on movement of the arm, neck, and/or head. What may feel like a stubborn knot can actually be a dysfunctional rib that is not moving correctly and causing a localised muscular spasm. If you are experiencing pain while breathing this is often a key sign that your problem may be originating from dysfunctional ribs.

Because upper back pain is so often associated with surrounding anatomical areas, such as the neck, shoulders, and ribs, symptoms may present concurrently in these areas or be referring directly to them

Many visits to the emergency room are non-cardiac chest pain associated with dysfunctional tissues of this area. In many instances when patients present with pain in the chest it is vital to rule out any deeper more insidious causes relating to the function of the heart and lungs.

Treatment and management of Upper Back Pain

Osteopathic treatment and management

Your osteopath can perform an examination to properly diagnose your upper back pain which is often associated with multiple structures such as the neck, shoulder and ribs, and ultimately postural habits. This may involve:

  • Osteopathic treatment of structures in the upper back that may be contributing to your pain
  • Therapeutic exercises and stretches
  • Identification of ergonomic, training or lifestyle factors that may be contributing to neck dysfunction and other pre-existing symptoms
  • Ergonomic and postural modifications to help prevent recurrence
  • Methods to reduce inflammation including icing certain structures, and/or natural or pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory medications.