BURNING UPPER BACK PAIN — HOW SERIOUS IS IT?

Burning upper back pain is usually due to things in our lives that we have control over.

For example, I developed Burning Upper Back Pain from horsing around on a trampoline and accidentally landing on my head.

Many sports put a lot of stress on the upper back muscles. Often the stress is more on one side of the body than the other.

Think of a bowler holding a heavy bowling ball while bending and twisting. The weight is always on the same side of the body. Over time, this is a recipe for developing back pain.





Click here for a list of all the pain relief products that I use, or that I recommend to patients, family and friends

A Poor Mattress is a Leading Cause of Burning Upper Back Pain

What is the best mattress for back pain? Patients have asked me this question a thousand times over the years and my answer is based on my own experience.

With five kids in my family and five kids in my wife’s family growing up, both of us slept on pretty old mattresses. I remember putting a piece of plywood under many of my beds over the years which helped quite a bit in preventing the bed from sagging. When you’re young and healthy it seems like you can get away with sleeping on a poor quality mattress without doing yourself much harm. But unfortunately that is not the case.

Sleeping on a good quality mattress is one of the most important things you can do for your own health and the health of your family.

Visit this Amazon link to see the Sealy Posturepedic Virtue Ultra Firm Mattress that I sleep on.

The other simple thing that has helped me avoid burning upper back pain for the last 30 years is using a Back Support Pillow

I started getting burning upper back pain when studying for hours at a time in college. Studying, reading, or anything that keeps your head tipped down for long periods, puts stress on your neck, upper-back, mid-back, and shoulders. This often causes burning pain in any of those areas.

The Back Support Pillow in the link below has many cool features I've not seen in any other back support pillow.

The other thing that caused burning pain in my upper-back, mid-back, and neck was driving back and forth to chiropractic college. This 22 hour trip was brutal on my back. The first time I brought my Back Support Pillow with me, I couldn't believe how much less pain the trip caused me.

I think everyone should have a Memory Foam Lumbar Cushion

Get My Single Best Idea For Getting Back Pain Relief Without Drugs Or Surgery by watching this Youtube video.

Common Causes of Burning Upper Back Pain:

• Overexertion of upper back muscles: very common with seasonal activities like: spring and fall cleaning, gardening, landscaping, raking leaves, shoveling snow, etc.

• Sporting Activities that strain muscles and joints of the upper back: Archery, Baseball, Bowling, Cycling, Field hockey, Fishing, Football, Golf, Gymnastics, Hockey, Lacrosse, Rowing, Running, Ping-pong, Tennis, Volleyball, Water-skiing, Weight-lifting, Wrestling, etc.

• Spinal Subluxations: This common problem in the back often causes Burning Upper Back Pain. Chiropractic is the only profession trained to find and remove these misalignments.

• Large Breasts: A number of women came into my clinic for relief of back pain which was caused by the weight of their breasts. Some of them had red sores at the top of their shoulders where their bra strap lay. I always recommended a bra with the widest shoulder straps and best support.

• Sleeping on a mattress that is too soft: Most of us have had this unpleasant experience at one time or another while traveling. If you sleep on a mattress that doesn’t provide the right support, it will contribute to Upper Back Pain.

• Sleeping on Your Stomach: Stomach sleeping causes the neck to be twisted for hours—putting stress on the muscles, joints, and spinal cord in the upper back.

• Too much Studying: I know your mother always said studying was good for You but I had to do an enormous amount of reading in college and Chiropractic school. This always caused me stiffness and soreness in my neck, upper back, and mid back.

I found a simple book holder that kept the book up in front of me so I didn’t have to look down. And I didn’t have to hold the books with my arms which also caused fatigue in the shoulders and upper back. Here is a link to the very same Book Holder that served me so well over the years and it costs only about eight dollars.

• Poor Posture or Slouching: Sitting for long periods at a keyboard or having a job that requires lots of sitting or driving contributes to stressful posture. What follows are tight and weak muscles. If the stress from bad posture is not eliminated, it often leads to Burning Upper Back Pain.

•Trigger Points: Trigger Points are tight knots in muscles that cause burning pain to radiate from them when they are pressed on.

Normally muscles do not contain trigger points. Muscles with trigger points will become shortened and weak. They usually refer pain on direct compression. The pain can range in severity from just muscle stiffness, to agonizing incapacitating pain.

To see the tool that I use on my own trigger points click this link Trigger Point Tool that I use for tight muscles

• Holding the Phone to your shoulder: Alternatives such as ergonomic "hands free" shoulder rests, headsets or speaker phones can considerably lessen stress to your upper back and neck. I personally recommend and use speaker phones for long conversations or when I need to write down information during a call.

• Slips and Falls: Any fall may strain joints and muscles, which can lead to Burning Upper Back Pain.







More Serious Causes of Burning Upper Back Pain:

• Fibromyalgia: The symptoms of back pain may be treated incorrectly without good results if the Fibromyalgia is not diagnosed.

• Rotator Cuff Injury: The rotator cuff is a supporting structure of the shoulder consisting of the muscles and tendons that attach the arm to the shoulder joint and enable the arm to move. I tore my infraspinatus muscle (one of the rotator cuff muscles) falling back onto my outstretched arm in a Karate competition. This caused severe aching and burning in the back of my shoulder and upper back.

• Whiplash Injuries: In addition to neck pain, these auto injuries often cause upper back pain and sometimes even lower back pain. It is common for whiplash injuries to be treated lightly and not given the respect they deserve. If full rehab is not received, patients often continue with pain for many years after the injury. The pain can be permanent if not treated correctly.

• Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is abnormal loss of bony tissue resulting in fragile porous bones caused by a lack of calcium. It is most common in postmenopausal women. As this disease progresses, it can cause pain in the bones of the spine and ribs, and cause spinal deformities and fractures.

• Shingles: A number of my patients over the years have had Burning Upper Back Pain that was caused by the herpes virus known as shingles. This burning pain can be severe and can last over a year.

• Severe Osteoarthritis (Degenerative arthritis): This is the most common degenerative condition affecting the joints. It can occur in people of all ages but is most common in those over sixty five. When it occurs in the spine, it often causes upper back pain.

• Disease in Organs such as Heart, pancreas, gallbladder and more can cause pain in the shoulder and upper back.

• Disc Herniation or Rupture: This will also cause burning upper back pain and is usually associated with a trauma or lifting injury.


Best Treatments for Burning Upper Back Pain:

Click here for a list of all the pain relief products that I use, or that I recommend to patients, family and friends.


Inversion Table Therapy : Inversion Therapy is a great therapy you can use to fight the negative effects of gravity pushing down on your spine whenever you are upright (sitting or standing).

Firm Mattress: A mattress that provides you proper support is essential for relief and prevention of back pain.

• Posture building exercises: Correct poor posture, which is a leading cause of pain in the upper back.

• Chiropractic care: for removal of upper back spine misalignments. Chiropractors also prescribe the right exercises for your particular posture problem.

• Massage therapy: This soft-tissue technique is effective at reducing stress and fatigue while improving circulation. Some of the oils used with massage have pain relieving qualities.

• Ice Therapy: is helpful when pain first starts. Use flexible ice bags or ice cubes in a sealable bag.

• Heat Therapy (especially moist heat) is very helpful for pain that is chronic or that you have had for longer than 2-3 days.

• Rest Overused muscles: Overused muscles are one of the primary reasons for Burning Upper Back Pain. Stop doing the activity that caused the problem in the first place!

• Tennis Ball: Simply laying on the floor and rolling a tennis ball under you can work wonders in loosening up tight muscles in your middle and upper back. This simple exercise can relieve a lot of burning upper back pain that is due to muscles that are tired and tight from overuse.

• Herb therapy: There are a number of herbs that have been used to relieve Burning Upper Back Pain. Some of them include: burdock, gen tang, horsetail, slippery elm, white willow bark, and devil’s claw. Many herbs have anti-inflammatory properties similar to those of NSAID’s and other pain relievers.

• Physical Therapy: Uses ultra-sound, muscle-stimulation and other therapies to reduce the swelling that is often present with upper back pain. You will also be shown specific stretches to help your particular situation.

• Aerobic exercise: Is helpful at getting the body moving. It helps improve posture while also bringing lots of blood carrying oxygen and nutrients to the tired painful muscles.

• Stretching and flexibility exercises: Stretches are often very affective in reducing pain. Tight muscles are a major source of pain in the upper back. The right stretches can bring tremendous relief.

• Yoga: Like stretching, Yoga can bring relief to tight and painful muscles. It also helps prevent future occurrences of Burning Upper Back Pain.

• Acupuncture: Although acupuncture remains controversial, I have referred certain patients for this treatment and most have received benefit.

• Strength training: Weight lifting to strengthen the “right muscles” will reduce pain. However, strengthening already tight muscles will actually make the pain cycle worse.

For example: the upper-trapezius is a muscle that is short, tight, and painful for many people. What that person needs is to strengthen the lower-trapezius muscle. This causes the upper- trapezius to relax and loosen. What we as Chiropractors see too often is a lack of informed strength training instruction. This allows much of the hard work of strength training to be counterproductive.

• Homeopathic Medicines: (Homeopathy) is a form of alternative medicine that treats health problems with heavily diluted preparations that are thought to cause effects similar to the symptoms the patient is troubled with. Many North Americans are unfamiliar with the practice of Homeopathy. My own family has benefited from Homeopathic remedies for over twenty years. Our first two family medical doctors both used Homeopathy with great expertise and success.

• Medication: This would not be my first choice of treatment. Even the over-the-counter medications that we think of as being safe have many harmful side effects. I’m all for pain medication when pain is so severe that there is really no other choice; However, I believe more conservative measures should be tried first.

• Surgery: Sometimes surgery is the proper (and maybe only) answer for relief of upper back pain. Unfortunately, it is an option that is undertaken more often than necessary.



Click here for a list of all the pain relief products that I use, or that I recommend to patients, family and friends.

To Your Best Health,

Dr. Cliff



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