By far, the most common complaint with regard to back trouble is persistent pain between the shoulder blades. Probably 75% of adults will experience upper back pain at some point in their lives. And as our world gets more technical, with more and more people making a living bending over a computer screen for 8-10 hours per day, the problem will most likely become more wide-spread.
There are many things that can cause upper back pain, including injuries, hyper-extension, gall bladder problems, liver problems, disorders of the stomach, esophagus, and pancreas, diaphragm irritation, respiratory infections, and even heart issues, but the overwhelming cause of upper back pain is simple stress to the muscles of the back.
Stress to the muscles of the upper back is caused by holding the head too far forward, or down, such as slouching (poor posture), or craning the neck down for long periods such as working at a desk, or computer console. This is especially true for tall women, many of whom are self-conscious about their height, and hold their heads down in an attempt to appear shorter. Holding the head forward puts excess strain on the upper back muscles, and causes pain. Women suffer from upper back pain 40% more than men. Another cause of upper back pain in women is very large breasts. The weight of the breasts in front put excess stress on the back muscles, which have to support the breasts. Breast-Reduction surgery can usually provide permanent relief. Reading in bed for long hours with your back propped up by pillows can also cause upper back pain.
The best treatment for simple upper back pain is to strengthen the back muscles, as well as the pectorals in front (muscle groups work against each other sometimes, and are called antagonists). One of the best ways to do this is by putting your hands behind your head, and flexing your arms backwards, stretching the pectoral muscles, and contracting the rhomboids (upper back muscles). Next, flex the arms forward, stretching the rhomboids and contracting the pectoral muscles. Do this several times, and many time a day. And of course, stop holding your head too far forward….The back pain will eventually subside if it is from stress.
Massage Therapy, acupressure, acupuncture and reiki can all provide temporary relief, but to fix the problem permanently, you need work on the back muscles, and correct the causative issue, ie; bad posture, or positions while working or reading. Ice packs can also provide temporary relief. Analgesics (pain medications) are ill-advised in most instances, because if the pain stops, chances are you will just go out and stress the back even more, and when the medication wears off….you’re really going to hurt.
If back pain between the shoulder blades persists for more than a week or so, you should see your Primary Health care Provider as soon as possible, and make sure the pain is not from a more serious issue, such as torticollis (stiff neck causing the head to turn involuntarily).
You need to take good care of your back. It’s the only one you will ever have.