What Can You Do At Home For Upper Mid Back Pain
Updated: Oct 14
Upper back pain (aka thoracic back pain) is a problem for a few reasons.
1. You usually can't reach the spot to massage it. Even if you can get to it, you can't apply enough direct pressure due to the position of our hands to make a difference. Try it. Reach behind you and push on a muscle under or over your shoulder blade. It's hard, right?
2. The ribs are in the upper mid back. They start in the back and meet in the chest, literally forming a cage. This limits flexibility which makes it hard to stretch certain painful areas.
3. Posture. Generally, our sitting posture is not good. We may start off sitting tall but as we get comfortable or focused, we slump into our seats. It's not entirely our fault! Gravity makes it easier for us to slouch when sitting or standing. This can aggravate any middle back pain you already have or may even be its cause.
While chiropractic is really one of the best ways to deal with this issue, there are some things that you can do at home if you can't get to one or have to wait for your appointment. If any of these increase your pain, stop.
Foam Roller: The jack of all tools for your health. It helps you reduce muscle tightness, helps you exercise and helps open up your upper mid back. There are a variety of rollers, but for this you want one with a little give. If yours is hard, put it under a towel. Put it on the ground horizontally and lay with your shoulder blades on the roller. Slowly roll up and down, about 10 cm each way. You may hear some small cracks. That's ok. If you find an area that feels tight, stay there and take a few breaths. Don't push too hard. Also don't go into your low back or neck. Just stay in the upper mid back area.
Laying on the Floor: If you don't have a foam roller or you think it might be too intense for you, you can simply lie on the floor/yoga mat and lift your arms until they're on the ground above your head. You may hear some small cracks here as well. Stay in this position for 30-60 seconds if you can.
Tennis Ball: Put a tennis ball between you and the wall. Find a tender spot that's NOT on your spine and push gently for 15-30 seconds. If it hurts too much, ease off. More is not better. When that area stops hurting, roll the ball to find another area. If you have pain on one side, check the other side too. You could be compensating for your pain with other muscles.
Ice and Heat: Use ice for 10 minutes, then heat for 10 minutes and then back to ice. Ice shrinks vessels, heat opens them up and ice shrinks it again. This creates a pumping effect that helps move inflammation out of the area. You can do this a few times, as needed.
All of these will all help ease pain or discomfort temporarily. If you have recurrent pain (also called chronic pain), make a chiropractic appointment to get lasting, long term relief.