Upper back and neck pain are becoming increasingly common, especially in people who sit in front of a computer for most of the day. These two closely located, yet separate, areas of the body seem to experience problems at the same time more and more. But is it related?
About upper back pain
Whether it occurs due to trauma, injury, or through strain, upper back pain is something almost everyone has lived through. In the vast majority of cases, the cause is one or both of the following:
Muscular irritation (myofascial pain)
This is when the large muscles of the upper back (shoulder girdle, shoulder blade, and back of the rib cage), develop an irritation. It can be extremely painful and difficult to resolve.
This occurs due to underuse or overuse of muscles around joints. So, injury occurs when an area that lacks strength, is suddenly used, or a specific area is used for a prolonged period of time – usually in the form of repetitive motions. Muscle strains, sports injuries, car accidents, or other injuries can all result in pain from muscular irritation.
About neck and shoulder pain
Soreness in the neck and shoulders can lead to varying degrees of difficulty when moving. The most obvious sign of neck and shoulder pain is having to rotate the entire body to look sideways, because you are unable to move your neck.
Neck and shoulder pain is a common problem. Aside from physical strain and injury, other factors such as poor posture and stress can also play a role.
Due to the proximity of the neck, shoulders and upper back, pain can often be experienced at the same time. It can also be accompanied by tension headaches and facial pain, or pain or tingling in the upper arms. For this reason, treatment is often connected.
Treating upper back pain without hurting your neck
Pain in the neck, shoulder and upper back, may be prevented with strengthening exercises. Short stretches will help to relax the neck and shoulder muscles, while gentle lifts can improve the condition of the upper back muscles. Check out our video gallery for back, neck and shoulder stretches.
Other ways to avoid upper back, shoulder and neck injury, include:
- Regular exercise
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic/osteopathic treatments
- Massage or acupuncture
- Stress regulation exercises/meditation
To prevent strain caused by poor posture, make time to stretch and flex, as often as possible. Try holding your arms above your head and locking them together at the hands or wrists. This will counteract monotonous use of the muscle groups in your neck and shoulders.
The application of heat can help facilitate gentle stretching. Elastoplast’s Spiral Heat Patch is ideal for treating neck and shoulder discomfort. It provides up to twelve hours of soothing heat to relieve muscle pain.
Remember, if symptoms last for more than a few days or pain and immobility increase, see a medical professional. Prolonged neck, shoulder or upper back pain can be a sign of a more serious medical condition.