Can Chiropractic Help Upper Back Pain?
“I’ve tried everything for my upper back pain, butnothing’s worked.”
Let me be clear from the start: upper back pain iscommon, but not normal.
When it comes to the
- tight muscles in the neck and theshoulders,
- the sharp upper back pain between the shoulderblades,
- the stabbing pain when you turn yourhead,
These are all common occurrences. But they are notnormal.
Often times, people attribute upper back pain to a muscleproblem. Well, that is partially true. However, have you everconsidered, Why are the muscles tight in the firstplace?
The answer may not be a muscle problem or even a posture problembut instead may actually indicate a nerve or brainstem problem thatis affecting your upper back and may be contributing towards yourupper back pain.
Or maybe you have tried a variety of treatments for your upperback pain only to find that each one only lasts for a couple ofdays (at most).
If so, I’d like to share with you a different approach - onethat looks at the underlying reasons that so many people developupper back pain. Then by addressing the problem at the source, areable to experience improvements not only with their upper back painbut with their overall health and wellbeing too.
“Why are my muscles always so tight?”
Muscles do not do anything unless they are told to do so by thenerves that control them. So, when we are considering upper backpain that is often related to “tight muscles,” we need to considerwhat controls those muscles in the first place.
There are essentially four layers of muscles in your upper back(from inside-out):
- Deep Muscles, aka your corestabilizers. These are the tiny postural muscles that controljoint-position sense a provide overall stability and information toyour brain about where your body is in open space(aka proprioception).
- Primary Movers. In your upper back, thesemuscles are represented by a group called the erectorspinae, which are series or muscles that work to keepyour body in an upright position.
- SecondaryStabilisers. These muscles are notnecessarily the prime movers, but certainly play an active role inassisting with movement. However, it is not uncommon in many peoplefor these muscles to be stronger than the primary movers, which canactually lead to a variety of muscle imbalanceproblems including upper back pain. These muscles arerepresented by the splendid muscles that attach your upper back toyour skull; the scalene muscles that attach your neck to the frontof your chest and collarbone, and the levator scapula andrhomboids, which attach your shoulder to your neck and upperback.
Of note, all these muscles are controlled by nerves fromyour cervical spine (C2-C8).
4. SuperficialMuscles, i.e., your trapezius andyour sternocleidomastoid (SCM).These are gross movement muscles that affectyour posture and may be associated withclinical syndromes such as torticollis.
Of note again, these muscles are controlled bythe 11thCranial Nerve from rootlets from theC1-C4 part of your spinal cord, and branches from the C2-C4 nervesin your neck.
What I hope I have illustrated here for you isthat the nerves from your neck are what actuallycontrol the muscles in your upper back. Therefore, if there isactually a problem with your neck it can manifest as upper backpain
“Do you Take Care of your Neck?”
Most likely you see a dentist, and you know how to take care ofyour teeth: brushing and flossing.
However, if you experience upper back pain, whom doyou see to take care of your neck? And do you know how you need totake care of it yourself?
You probably have a sense of what not to do: using a phone orcomputer too much, keeping your posture upright, looking straightahead, not slouching, etc. However, have you everwondered why it is that whenever you fix your posture that itimmediately springs back to the same bad posture as soon as yourelax again?
It’s because posture is seldom a posture problem. It is a muscleand nerve problem! It also means that whatever the underlyingcondition is, it is still there.
One of the additional hallmarks is if you ever ask someone torub your neck or your shoulders to help with your upper back pain.Odds are that it feels delightful when you are having it done.However, as soon as the person stops, the same muscle tightness andupper back pain creep immediately in again.
It is because the underlying issue is most likely there,and the muscles are simply compensating for what is goingon.
So let’s consider the types of things that could be creatingthese underlying issues.
At the forefront is a misalignment of one of the bones in yourneck, known as the cervical spine. The C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis) areespecially susceptible to injury due to their flexibility. Theyalso have the most profound impact on the spine and nervous system,so we will focus here.
Now, we aren’t talking about the type of injury or misalignmentthat has caused a fracture or a dislocation or a ruptured ligament.But we are talking about something that has affectedthe normal center of gravity and axis of motion for one of thebones in your neck by a couple of millimeters.
Even if you think that a couple of millimeters is small, let meask you if you have ever had a splinter in your finger? How big isa splinter? Maybe about the same size?
So if something that small can produce that much pain whenprovoked, is it possible that the same type of small butsignificant problem affecting your spine could be responsible foryour upper back pain or other nerve issues?
You see, your brain isn’t stupid! And if it is not able to fixthis type of injury on its own, it will cause the muscles in yourneck and upper neck to guard, or pull away from the source of pain.In effect, this will cause your posture to change.
Remember that muscle only does what the NERVE tellsit to do.
Also keep in mind that all muscles can only compensate for solong until they get achy, painful, and then something strains orgives out.
Do you see the connection now? How a problem affecting thenerves in your neck may cause your body to compensate, shifting thepoint of stress into your upper back, but then over a long periodof time in turn creates upper back pain.
It is the reason why it is so common for people toexperience sudden upper back pain where you can’t move yourneck.
It is because the muscles have been stressed for so longthat one morning, you were doing something so innocent like gettingout of bed, washing your hair, or reversing from the driveway whenyour neck suddenly grabbed, and then all of your muscles startedseizing and causing your strong upper back pain whenever you turnedyour head.
The upper cervical approach to helping people with upperback pain
Whether you have only recently experienced an episode of upperback pain or if upper back pain has been a constant source ofirritation for months or years, we have a different approach thatmay be able to assist you.
It is called Blair upper cervical care.
Blair upper cervical care is a special division of chiropracticthat does not use twisting, cracking or spinal manipulation tocorrect the alignment and motion for the bones in the neck withparticular emphasis on the top two: the atlas (C1) and axis(C2).
The purpose of care, by correcting the alignment of thevertebrae in your neck, is to restore the normalmechanics as much as possible, which allows your body to work at ahigher function.
When this happens, we believe that the source of irritation thatmay be affecting the spinal nerves or cord is reduced, which allowsfor your own body to make changes in your muscle tone, balancingthe system. When this happens, it is how we believe so many peopleexperience relief from upper back pain.
In this way, upper cervical care is not a treatment for thesymptoms of upper back pain. It is an approach where we are lookingto address an underlying cause of spinal dysfunction and thenallowing the body to heal itself naturally.
The process begins with an examination of your neck first toidentify any issues there. At our North Lakes chiropractorpractice, this involves the use of a detailed physical exam withposture analysis, neurological assessments including paraspinalcomputerized thermography, and precise 3D spinal imaging (whenindicated) that reveals the exact direction and degree ofmisalignment in your neck.
From there, we present a plan of care based on your findings andyour healthcare goals.
Can we help you?
Our practice is the premier center for Blair upper cervicalhealthcare in southeast Queensland. We are actively working tobuild a network of Blair upper cervical chiropractic doctorsthroughout Australia so that this important form of healthcare isavailable in every community throughout the nation.
At present, we serve the greater Brisbane communities of southand north Brisbane, Albany Creek, Bulimba, Cashmere, Chandler,Hawthorne, Indooroopilly, New Farm, North Lakes, Narangba, Dakabin,Mango Hill, Burpengary and North Harbour, Kalinga, Newstead,Scarborough, Shorncliffe, Spring Hill, Toowong, Warner, West Endalso from the Gold Coast Sunshine Coast.
Because so many of our clients do travel 60 minutes, ourpractice is located just off the Bruce Highway in North Lakes andeasily accessible.
So, can we help you?
One of the unique things that our practice offers is a 15-minuteover the phone consultation with one of our resident doctors ofchiropractic where we can learn a bit of information, answer anyspecific questions you have about your case, and offer you animpression if we believe that we can help you.
The call is no obligation, and so if you would like moreinformation so that you can decide is upper cervical care may beright for you, we would like to extend this invitation for you toemail us through the Contact Us link on thispage, or alternatively contact us at our main officeat 07 3188 9329.
Upper back pain is one of those things that so many people learnto live with, but may well be associated with many other thingsalso that could be affecting your overall health and wellbeing. Ifthere is a natural solution that may be able to help you too, itwould be our privilege to assist you.
Atlas Health Australia - “A passion and purpose forhelping people restore the quality of their lives.”
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