Neck, Shoulder and Upper Back Pain

Millions of Americans suffer from some form of neck, shoulder and upper back pain each year. This often-debilitating pain can restrict daily activities and, in some cases, negatively affect a person’s overall quality of life.

Symptoms of Neck, Shoulder and Upper Back Pain

The neck, shoulders, and upper back are all deeply connected via a complex network of joints, muscles, and tissues that work together to keep the body performing efficiently.  With such a large portion of the upper body dedicated to these areas, neck, shoulder, and upper back pain tends to be easily recognizable and may be restricting.

The pain itself typically has a strong presence but can be both sharp and dull in presentation.  For some individuals, the pain may come in sharp stabbing sensations.  For others, the pain presents itself as more of a constant dull ache that could be related to intense muscle tension.

Pain is one side of the spectrum of symptoms and numbness is another.  It is possible for a sudden movement, stretch, or injury to affect the nerves.  In many cases this usually feels like a numbing or tingling sensation in the affected areas.

It is not uncommon for pain to begin in the upper back before traveling to surrounding areas such as the neck or shoulders, and vice versa.  This phenomenon generally exists because the muscles surrounding and supporting the affected area become tired, which usually enlists the help of adjacent muscles and can contribute to the pain spreading.

Common Causes of Neck, Shoulder and Upper Back Pain

In many cases, neck, shoulder, and upper back pain is caused by a simple movement that can in turn put pressure on the upper part of the body, causing temporary muscle pain or discomfort.  Even in these seemingly minor situations, the effects of the pain can be quite debilitating and often temporarily restrict daily activities.

In this modern age of technology where most of us are constantly consulting a computer, tablet, or smartphone, these daily habits are negatively affecting our posture.  Individuals tend to look down at these devices, rather than holding them up to eye level.  This can put an immense amount of pressure on our neck, shoulder, and back muscles every day.  A repetitive curved posture can be damaging for healthy spinal alignment.

For some, a misaligned Atlas may be a source of neck, shoulder, and upper back pain.  The Atlas is the first vertebrae of the spine, located at the base of the skull.  The misalignment of the Atlas and the spine can in many cases cause individuals a notable amount of pain.

Injuries can also be another source of neck, shoulder, and upper back pain.  They can result from an action as simple as lifting something heavy without the proper form, playing sports, or even being in a car accident.  Each of these incidences can cause damage to muscles and tissues in the upper body that could cause pain.

In addition to the above, certain aspects of an individual’s daily lifestyle can put undue pressure on the spine.  Sitting at a desk or in a car all day without paying attention to proper posture often leads to a curvature of the spine that puts unnecessary pressure on muscles.  The same can be said for standing.  If an individual’s occupation has them on their feet most of the day, a less than perfect posture during that time period can have negative effects on the muscles in the neck, shoulder, and upper back.  Lastly, individuals who are overweight often have joints and muscles that are constantly working harder to support the body’s daily activities.  Because they are working harder, theses muscles and joints are often susceptible to injury.

Some more serious causes of neck, shoulder and upper back pain may be degenerative disc disease, degenerative arthritis, joint dislocation, a broken collar bone or shoulder blade, rotator cuff injury, and severe whiplash.  While these situations can cause intense pain in the upper part of the body, they are the culprit far less often than their simple counterparts of misalignment, bad posture and minor injuries.

Getting a Diagnosis

In many cases, neck, shoulder, and upper back pain will dissipate on its own after several days to a week or so.  In others, the injury and pain may be so persistent and unyielding that it requires attention or treatment.  It’s a good idea to note when the pain started, what level it started at and what level it is currently at, if anything specific caused the pain, what makes the pain feel better, and what makes it feel worse.

These things together give a thorough history of an individual’s injury and may offer some insight into possible causes of neck, shoulder, and upper back pain.

Managing Neck, Shoulder and Upper Back Pain

Different people generally experience different pain tolerances, which can impact how they choose to manage that pain.

When the injury appears to be a minor muscle pull or aggravation, the application of a simple cold compress can help relieve pain.  A cold press is generally used for a few minutes on and off during the day instead of applying for hours at a time.  The cold will often numb the area and reduce inflammation, both of which may help with pain relief.

Resting is a natural inclination after experiencing an injury that restricts movement.  While resting is good in limited quantities, some injuries may heal more quickly when rest is balanced with easy movement.  For some individuals, laying down for days at a time after a painful injury can do further damage to muscles and thus complicate the condition.

Many people turn to over the counter pain relievers and medications with anti-inflammatory properties, which may be helpful in reducing swelling and pain.

Massages may also help ease pain from the affected area.  This method is usually helpful if the muscles have become overly tight from protecting an injured area.

For those looking for lasting relief from neck, shoulder and upper back pain should consider having their Atlas aligned. This procedure is non-invasive and realigns the body’s axis, which can allow everything to realign. This is an ideal way to relieve pain and unnecessary pressure.

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Houston, Texas 77065
  (832) 622-1755