“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

The Problem of Pain and Movement

What is movement?

As one source points out,

“Movement is a fundamental aspect of life. Movement is more than just ‘exercise’ and does not necessarily require effort, though it does require action. Movement affects everything, from circulation to digestion to metabolism to immunity. With movement, our bodies regulate hormone activity, detoxify and respire.”

As humans, movement is not only a fundamental aspect of life but also essential to our ability to function in life. And when movement is painful, or pain restricts our movement, our ability to function is restricted.

Movement not only is necessary for us to do things, such as work, but movement provides healthy joints, strong bones, physical strength, good circulation. In addition, it helps with achieving good coordination and reflex reactivity, improving our learning skills and concentration, as well as our mental well-being.

Simply put, without movement, we would deteriorate.

This is why experiencing chronic pain issues such as the upper back, neck, and shoulder pain can be so debilitating and restrictive. 

No pain is enjoyable, and no particular type or location of pain can readily be said to be worse than another, but chronic upper back pain is probably one of the most restrictive and painful.

Cause and Treatment of Upper Back Pain

Upper back pain can include pain in or across one or both shoulders, up through the neck, and even at the base of the skull. Depending on the cause of the pain it can be the result of tight or constricted muscles, or nerve pain originating from nerve entrapment.

The most common causes of upper back pain are muscular irritation, or myofascial pain, and joint dysfunction.

Sometimes there can be an injury to a disc in the upper back, such as a thoracic herniated disc or degenerated disc, which causes severe upper back pain, such injuries are usually somewhat rare.

Typically, myofascial pain and other types of upper back pain are due to either a general lack of strength in the muscles or overuse injuries, often a result of repetitive motions. In addition, severe muscle strains, sports injuries, auto accidents, or other injuries can all result in pain from muscular irritation.

One survey revealed that most adults believe they know that stress can be a cause of back pain. The online survey participants ranked the perceived causes of their neck and back pain as follows: 

  • Stress: 29 percent
  • Not enough exercise/weak muscles: 26 percent
  • Physical work: 26 percent
  • Overweight: 25 percent

And, according to the UT Southwestern Medical Center website

“Given its proximity to the head, tension in the neck due to stress can cause muscle pain and headaches. Chronic neck pain also can cause fatigue, depression, and irritability.

Mid-back pain includes muscles that are affected by breathing, including the chest and shoulder muscles. When you’re stressed, your breathing patterns change and cause strain and tension in the mid-back. Your shoulders hunch up and cause pain throughout the upper and middle back.”

The good news is that upper back pain can not only be effectively treated but, in most cases, eliminated completely.

At Pain and Performance Solutions in Santa Rosa, we are proficient at diagnosing your back pain, locating the actual location and source of that pain, and implementing treatment therapies that bring relief such as Active Release Technique®.

Active Release Technique® or ART® is a patented, soft tissue system that is essentially a movement-based massage technique to treat pain issues arising problems with muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia, scar tissue or adhesions, and nerves.

Treatment with Active Release Technique® begins first with a physical exam. After we develop a diagnosis based on your history of upper back pain and the examination, we can begin treatment.

ART® therapy allows us to detect soft tissue injuries from scar tissue. We can determine where any adhesions are and how severe the soft tissue injury is.

Pain and Performance Solutions: Relief from Chronic Upper Back Pain

During your initial visit to Pain and Performance Solutions, we will want to learn everything we can about your upper back pain along with any other history of discomfort. Treatment and relief from your upper back pain can only begin once we understand where and how your pain started.

Once we have completed our verbal assessment and history, we will then conduct a full examination. It is these steps that allow us to then determine the best form of treatment to help you along your road to recovery.

Many times, our bodies will try to compensate for pain by making often subtle adjustments to minimize or avoid the pain. However, this results in our bodies shifting that pain around to compensate for our discomfort, and this often leads to other areas of pain.

Finding chronic pain relief with therapies like Anatomy in Motion, or Aim, along with applying Active Release Technique® can only begin after we understand where your pain started. That could mean it started previously with another injury you might have sustained.

Your trust in us and your honesty are keys to our success. Ultimately, the only way to achieve total pain relief and recovery is by getting your body healthy and moving properly.

Don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and answer any questions that you may have. 

You can reach us at (707) 636-4404 or by filling out our online contact form.