Receiving Chiropractic Treatment for Upper Back Pain

The air is crisp, the sun is shining, and there’s not a cloud in the sky. 

It’s a picture-perfect afternoon.

You go outside to admire the birds flying above and just as you look to the sky you freeze, wincing in pain.

We’ve all experienced upper back pain of some sort, but if you’re living with chronic upper back pain – don’t look down, don’t look up.

You feel like you’re barely living at all.

So why haven’t you visited a chiropractor yet?

In this guide, you’ll learn how and why chiropractic treatment might be the answer to your upper back pain. 

Table of Contents

Should I See a Chiropractor for Upper Back Pain?

The short answer –– yes, you should see a chiropractor if you’re experiencing pain in your upper back.

Chiropractors can treat many types of spine-related conditions, including the thoracic spine –– the 12 bones between your neck and the bottom of your ribs.

If you have experienced …

  • An accident
  • A repetitive strain injury
  • Muscle spasms
  • Disc problems; or 
  • Restrictions in muscle capacity

… you likely also suffer from upper back pain.

Whether you have had a recent injury or have had back pain for many years, a chiropractor can help identify the root cause and treat your pain.

is chiropractic good for upper back pain

3 Reasons People Visit a Chiropractor for Upper Back Pain

People can suffer from upper back pain for various reasons, but the most common reasons for upper back pain are:

  1. Whiplash
  2. Poor posture; and
  3. Upper back restrictions

Keep reading to learn why these three root causes often contribute to upper back pain. 

#1: Whiplash

Whiplash is an injury sustained frequently when a person is rear-ended in an automobile accident.

The sudden backward movement and forward movement of a car accident can cause …

  • Tendons
  • Ligaments; and 
  • Muscles 

… to stretch and even tear. 

More than just a neck injury, whiplash involves many of the muscles that support the neck and the back, and should be taken seriously.

You may have whiplash if you feel …

  • Tightness 
  • Strain
  • Tension
  • Burning or tingling sensations; or 
  • Spasms 

… in the muscles of your neck or upper back.

Other symptoms of severe whiplash often include: 

  • headaches and dizziness
  • Difficulty swallowing and chewing
  • Hoarseness in your voice

#2: Poor Posture

Whether it’s from eight to ten hours a day at work slouched in front of a computer or a new phenomenon called text neck, exhibiting poor posture all day can quickly lead to upper back problems. 

A chiropractor can effectively treat poor posture and the pain it causes using:

  • Exercises
  • Stretches; or 
  • Correcting back braces

These treatments can strengthen the capacity and stamina of the muscles that engage in sitting or standing for extended periods. 

#3: Upper Back Restrictions

Segmental restrictions can contribute to neck and upper back pain, leading to inflammation and swelling of your upper back’s stabilizing muscles and soft tissue. 

Upper back restrictions can result in feeling …

  • Stiffness
  • Tightness; and
  • Reduced range of motion

… on the right or left side of your upper back when you breathe, as your spine expands and contracts.

Can a Chiropractor Help Relieve Upper Back Pain?

If you’re one in ten men, or one in five women, who commonly suffer from upper back pain, a chiropractor can help.

You may want to see a chiropractor for upper back pain if you are experiencing these warning signs:

  • Intense sensations in your upper back
  • A tingling feeling or loss of strength in your legs
  • Red or swollen areas on your upper back
  • Pain in your neck pain
  • Recently had an accident or injury

Don’t hesitate to seek chiropractic or medical care especially if your back pain is paired with:

  • Incontinence
  • A high temperature; or
  • Unexpected weight loss

The experienced chiropractic experts at Cascade Spine & Injury Center offer a holistic approach to treating upper back pain. 

Services like massage therapy and in-house acupuncture along with chiropractic care means you’ve got every aspect of your recovery under one roof.

should i see a chiropractor for upper back pain

7 Chiropractic Treatments for Upper Back Pain

On the first visit to your chiropractor, your condition will be assessed and diagnosed, identifying the root cause of the problem.

Then your chiropractor will come up with an appropriate treatment plan. 

A chiropractor may employ a variety of treatments during your visit and introduce a few exercises to continue at home to help relieve pain in the affected area, including your:

  • Bones
  • Muscles
  • Joints
  • Ligaments
  • Tendons; and 
  • Cartilage 

Your treatment plan will be tailored to your case and based on the unique shape of your spine.

Your chiropractor may choose to include one or a combination of these seven chiropractic treatments for upper back pain.

#1: Spinal Manipulation Adjustments

Chiropractors typically use spinal manipulation to help the spine and musculoskeletal structure return to its proper alignment.

Spinal manipulation realigns the spine and nervous system, removing pressure from surrounding nerves and reducing pain and spasms in the upper back. 

Most chiropractors use these common spinal manipulation adjustment techniques regularly to help relieve upper back pain:

  • Diversified technique – Chiropractors use their hands in a fast thrusting motion to realign joints and bring improved function back to the area.
  • Instrument Adjusting – Chiropractors use instruments like the Impulse Adjusting Instrument to treat muscle pain. This is similar to Activator Technique, except the Activator is a hand-actuated device rather than being electrically powered like the Impulse.

Depending on what will work best for you, your chiropractor may also use other chiropractic techniques, like spinal decompression therapy.

#2: Interferential Current Therapy

If you experience muscle spasms or chronic pain in your upper back, your chiropractor might suggest interferential current therapy (IFC).

Interferential current therapy is most often used as a …

  • Safe
  • Effective; and 
  • Non-invasive 

… treatment for chronic pain.

Interferential current therapy utilizes an electrical current to penetrate deep into the body to target the source of pain. 

Small amounts of electrical stimulation are sent out to damaged tissues in the body.

The electrical stimulation boosts the body’s natural response to pain, increasing blood flow and the production of hormones that promote healing. 

Your chiropractor can control the exact frequencies allowing the interferential current to travel deep into the muscle tissue or nerves. 

This control allows IFC to be administered without some of the uncomfortable sensations associated with other low-frequency stimulation therapies. 

#3: Intersegmental Traction Therapy

Intersegmental traction therapy is a modality used by chiropractors to treat upper back pain caused by:

  • Disc problems
  • Muscle spasms
  • Segmental restrictions

Your chiropractor will use a specially designed table where you will lie down while rollers gently move up and down your spine, lifting your body and opening up the facet joints. 

The chiropractor can adjust the amount of pressure applied to allow vital nutrients to circulate through the injured area and motivate the healing process.

Intersegmental traction therapy also stretches the muscles in the upper back and neck, which can provide relief from muscle spasms.

Other benefits of intersegmental traction therapy include:

  • Improved spinal function and joint motion
  • Improved stability
  • Increased blood flow; and
  • Reduced swelling
chiropractic treatment for upper back pain

#4: Heat Therapy

Heat therapy is often used following an adjustment or in combination with another treatment to relieve stiffness, pain, or muscle spasms in the upper back.

Heat therapy can be applied in many different ways including:

  • Commercial hot packs provide moist heat
  • Heating pads provide dry heat; or
  • Hot water bottles that let you control the temperature

Heat therapy works by enlarging the blood vessels, increasing circulation and allowing more oxygen and nutrients to flow to the injured area. 

Heat therapy can:

  • Help heal damaged tissue
  • Relax the muscles; and 
  • Provide almost instant relief from pain or discomfort

#5: Therapeutic Laser Therapy

Therapeutic laser therapy uses specific wavelengths of focused light to penetrate through the skin and tissues of the upper back area.

Your chiropractor may use laser therapy to help stimulate your body’s natural healing process and reduce recovery time from an accident or injury. 

Laser technology is used to target an area precisely to help reduce inflammation and heal tissue.

In most cases, it only takes a few minutes for your chiropractor to administer laser therapy to treat your upper back, but treatment time can vary depending on the size of the affected area. 

#6: Kinesio Taping

Have you ever seen an athlete, or maybe even a pregnant woman, wearing tape on different areas of their body and wondered why? 

Kinesio Tape essentially lifts the skin at a microscopic level and creates a small space between your muscle and dermis layers. This space allows for:

  • Increased circulation
  • Reduced inflammation; and
  • An increased flow of lymphatic fluids in the target area 

Designed with a wave-like pattern intended to mimic human fingerprints that allow the tape to “breathe”, it can be worn for several days at a time and applied in many different ways, depending on the desired effect.

It can be applied at different tension levels to provide more or less stability without affecting the range of motion or cutting off circulation.

Kinesio Tape is a hypoallergenic, latex-free tape made from 100% elastic fibers that only stretch on the longitudinal axis.

Your chiropractor may suggest applying Kinesio Tape to your upper back to:

  • Correct your posture
  • Realign your spine
  • Relieve pain

#7: At-Home Exercises

In addition to these treatments for upper back pain, your chiropractor may prescribe at-home exercises to supplement your office visit.

Simple yet effective exercises and stretches you can do at home to help ease your upper back pain may include:

  1. Neck rolls 
    • Sitting upright with relaxed shoulders, slowly move your chin down, letting it drop toward your chest. 
    • Bring your left ear over your left shoulder.
    • Gently roll your head back and around to your right shoulder. Repeat five to 10 times in both directions.
  2. Shoulder shrugs
    • Straighten your back with your arms hanging down at your sides.
    • As you inhale, bring your shoulders straight up as high as possible, and squeeze them tight for about two seconds.
    • Exhale, letting your arms drop back down. Repeat eight to ten times.
  3. Shoulder rolls
    • Straighten your back with your arms hanging down at your sides.
    • Inhale while bringing your shoulders up to your ears, like a shoulder shrug.
    • As you move them down, move them back in a circle. Repeat five times.
    • Reverse the movement in the forward direction and repeat five times. 

Can Seeing a Chiropractor for Upper Back Pain Make It Worse?

A chiropractor can provide a practical and safe way to treat upper back pain and most people have great success with it.

Although it is important to note your muscles may feel a little sore after receiving chiropractic treatment. 

It’s also not uncommon to feel a little tired after your visit, but these symptoms usually disappear after 24 hours.

chiropractor for upper back pain

Cascade Spine & Injury Center Can Help Treat Your Upper Back Pain

Dr. McClaren and the experienced chiropractors at Cascade Spine & Injury Center can help you get back to enjoying a beautiful day without pain in your upper back.

Cascade Spine & Injury Center is dedicated to providing top-notch chiropractic techniques for your upper back pain, with treatments like:

  • Therapeutic laser therapy
  • Ultrasound
  • Heat therapy
  • Interferential current therapy
  • Intersegmental traction therapy;
  • And more

In addition to chiropractic care, we practice a multi-disciplinary method aimed at integrating all aspects of healing including:

  • Massage therapy
  • Acupuncture; and
  • Exercise rehab 

Contact us today to book an appointment and wave goodbye to your upper back pain.

should i see a chiropractor for upper back pain

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