Back pain is incredibly common in adults throughout the world.
Whether it’s the strain of sitting down or standing up for hours at time or the stress of every day life, there are countless causes of this condition.
The most talked about type of back pain is the lower back, but what does it mean when the pain is felt in your shoulders and rib cage?
Upper Back Pain
Your upper back is defined as the region of your back ranging from the base of your neck down to the bottom of your rib cage (1).
Pain experienced in this region is often described as a dull, burning, or sharp pain that may or may not be accompanied by muscle tightness and stiffness (2).
This condition is often caused by (2) :
- Overuse, muscle strain, or injury to the muscles, ligaments, and discs that support your spine.
- Poor posture.
- Pressure on the spinal nerves from certain problems, such as a herniated disc , which can be accompanied by pain radiating down the arms, as well as some numbness.
- A fracture of one of the vertebrae.
- Osteoarthritis caused by the breakdown of cartilage that cushions the small facet joints in the spine.
- Myofascial pain that affects the connective tissue of a muscle or group of muscles.
More alarming symptoms include:
- Weakness in your arms or legs.
- Numbness or tingling in your arms, legs, chest, or belly.
- Loss of bowel or bladder control.
If you experience back pain with any of the symptoms above, seek medical attention immediatley. You may be experiencing signs of gallbladder disease, infection or cancer.
Back Pain : An Unknown Cancer Symptom
Lower back pain can be a symptom of cancer of the colon, rectum, or ovary that has metastasized into surrounding regions (3).
Throughout the back, tumors in the spinal column may cause back pain from expansion of the bone or from weakening the bone.
This in turn can cause spinal fractures, compression (pinching) of the nerves, or spinal instability. Unlike occasional muscle pain, this causes tenderness and discomfort in the bones (5).
When the pain is felt between the shoulders, it may be a sign of esophageal cancer or lung cancer (6). Liver cancer has also been known to cause radiated pain in the back (7).
Home Remedies For Back Pain
If you experience chronic back pain, it’s always a good idea to visit your doctor or chiropractor to get a professional opinion on your condition, especially if it’s accompanied by other symptoms.
If your pain is muscle-deep, you may find relief through yoga, physical therapy, acupuncture, hot/cold compresses and warm Epsom salt baths. You can also try adopting a different sleeping position.
For lasting relief, preform these stretches everyday:
- Stand in an open doorway, resting both hands on the doorframe above your head.
- Gently lean forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your shoulders.
- Hold 15 seconds.
- Repeat two to three times.
- Sit up straight with your arms by your sides.
- Try squeezing your shoulder blades together as far as you can.
- Hold for five seconds.
- Do two sets of 15.
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Grab onto your thighs, just above the knee and curl your head and neck towards your belly button.
- Hold for a count of 10 to 15 seconds.
- Repeat three times.
Lying knee twist
- Lie on your back with your arms and legs stretched out.
- Keep both arms out and flat against the ground.
- Bring your right knee towards you and cross it over the left side of your body.
- Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
- Kneel on the ground with your hands parallel to your shoulders and your knees parallel to your hips.
- Exhale and gently arch your spine, looking up to the ceiling.
- Inhale and tighten your core muscles as you are rounding your back like a cat.
- Hold for 10 seconds.
- Repeat 10 times.