Upper back pain can be incredibly disruptive and uncomfortable. It's typically caused by poor posture, muscle strain, or injuries to the muscles or ligaments that support your spine. However, there are several effective strategies you can adopt to manage and alleviate your pain.
Firstly, maintain a good posture, both when standing and sitting. When standing, keep your head level and your shoulders pulled back. When sitting, especially for long periods, use a chair with back support and keep your knees level with your hips.
Regular, moderate exercise can also be beneficial. It not only strengthens your back muscles but also improves your overall fitness, reducing the likelihood of straining your back. Yoga, pilates, and swimming are particularly good for promoting flexibility and strength.
Applying heat or cold to the affected area can provide temporary relief. A warm bath or heat pack can help to relax tense muscles, while a cold pack can reduce inflammation. Always wrap ice packs or heat pads in a cloth to protect your skin, and avoid using heat for more than 20 minutes at a time.
Over-the-counter pain relievers, like ibuprofen, can also provide short-term relief. But always remember to use them as directed, and consult a doctor if the pain persists.
Another potentially helpful practice is mindful relaxation. Deep breathing exercises and meditation can relieve stress that often contributes to muscle tension.
A professional massage can also bring instant relief. Talk to your therapist about the cause of your pain, as well as where you’re having the most trouble.
If your upper back pain persists, is severe, or is accompanied by other symptoms like numbness or weakness in your arms or legs, consult a healthcare professional immediately. They may recommend physical therapy, prescription medications, or in some rare cases, surgery.
Jennifer Ferdinand, owner of Serendipity Wellness Studio in Burke, VA, has been practicing massage therapy and esthetics since 2006. She is nationally certified through NCBTMB, and licensed in Virginia for both Massage Therapy and Esthetics.