The upper back is usually referred to as the cervical spine. Cervical musculoskeletal pain degrades the quality of life significantly. The intensity of cervical pain ranges from an annoying, constant ache to totally debilitating, leaving a person feeling weak. And if you are suffering from pain, your first priority is probably to find pain relief. Fortunately, most cases of muscle pain are the result of a minor injury and only require time to heal. However, muscle pain can also be caused by nerve compression and can take the form of throbbing, tingling or muscle spasms.
Nerve compression occurs when one of the nerves in the body becomes inflamed or pinched. This can happen in a number of ways. In the spinal column, nerve roots branch off the spinal cord and run through narrow canals between the vertebrae before extending into the body. Symptoms arise if these nerves become irritated by a herniated disc, by bone spurs or by any of the other common effects of spinal degeneration. As a result of this compression, pain can radiate along the nerve’s path, terminating in any of the muscles groups that it innervates.
If you are experiencing upper back pain in the form of throbbing, tingling or muscle spasms, your physician may attempt to manage your symptoms with a series of conservative, nonsurgical treatments. These can include:
- Anti-inflammatory medication – over-the-counter painkillers are usually sufficient, although stronger medication may be prescribed if your symptoms warrant it.
- Heat – the application of heat to an injury facilitates your blood flow and expedites the healing process. Heat packs, blankets and hot tub therapy can all be helpful.
- Targeted exercise – depending on the type of muscle pain, your physician may recommend some specific upper back pain exercises to strengthen your muscles, increase flexibility and prevent further damage.
- Rest – while you don’t want to become sedentary, limited rest is often all that is needed to overcome muscle pain.
- Cortisone injections – your physician may offer a cortisone shot at the location of your muscle pain if your pain is extreme or debilitating.
If after several months you are still struggling with upper back muscle pain, you may want to consider your other options. Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our minimally invasive outpatient procedures and to receive a free review of your MRI or CT scan.