Upper Back Muscle Strains Information

Upper Back Muscle Strains Information

Upper back strains and sprains are common causes of back pain and lack of mobility, as the upper back muscles and ligaments can be strained and sprained from any activity that requires bending, stretching, or twisting.

Anatomy Of An Upper Back Muscle Strain

The upper back, also called the middle back, is the area of the back corresponding to the thoracic vertebrae. It begins under the cervical vertebrae in the neck and ends where the lumbar vertebrae in the lower back begin. The area is directly behind the chest. The main muscles in the upper back are the rhomboid, trapezius, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres major, teres minor, deltoid, and upper half of the latissimus dorsi.

The Difference Between An Upper Back Strain And Sprain

Strain and sprain are often used interchangeably when talking about back injury since it’s almost impossible to isolate the actual structure affected in soft tissue upper back injuries. However, it’s important to distinguish that an upper back muscle strain, also called a pulled or torn muscle, occurs when muscle fibers are stretched abnormally or torn. On the other hand, an upper back sprain is caused from ligaments, the bands of tissue holding bones together, being damaged or torn.

Upper Back Strain

This injury occurs when an upper back muscles, like the latissimus dorsi, the rhomboids and the trapezius, are strained or stretched beyond their normal limit. This strain or stretching can result in tearing of muscle fibers. When muscle fibers pull apart, they don’t properly contract. The most common cause of upper back strain is overuse or misuse of the upper back muscles in a way that they’re simply not designed to perform. This may be from a single stressful incident or repetitively engaging in motions that the back isn’t able to handle. While upper back strains can be very painful, they are usually not as severe as back sprains. Damage is categorized by grades one through three:

Grade 1 - stretching of a few of the muscle fibers with no loss of muscle strength.
Grade 2 - significantly more number or degree of muscle fiber damage with marked loss of muscle strength.
Grade 3 - muscle fibers are torn or ruptured with severe to complete muscle strength and function loss.

Upper Back Sprain

An upper back sprain occurs much like an upper back strain, but it’s the ligament fibers being stretched or torn from overuse or misuse. This is most often due to a twisting or heavy lifting action. Like strains, the grading system for sprain injury is one through three:

Grade 1 - ligament fibers are stretched, but not torn.
Grade 2 - ligament fibers are more drastically stretched and may be partially torn with some joint instability. Grade 3 - the ligament is completely torn or ruptured with severe joint instability

Causes Of Upper Back Strain and Sprain

Either can be due to a sudden or traumatic injury or from misusing or overusing the ligaments and muscles. More specific examples of causes would include a sudden or repetitive abnormal or normal movement, torso rotating movement, car accident, fall, and lifting of heavy items. Age and participation in vigorous sporting activities are the few risk factors associated with upper back strains and sprains. There are also certain occupational hazards that link some occupations, such as roofing, nursing, and construction, with a risk of upper back strain.

The stretching or tearing of an upper back muscle is most often the result of an overuse, improper use, awkward positioning/alignment, or sudden traumatic injury to an upper back muscle. Specific examples would include any of the following:

* poor body mechanics when lifting an object, standing, or sitting
* lifting an object that is too heavy
* frequent (repetitive) lifting actions
* slips, falls, vehicle accidents, sports injuries, and such that could produce a direct trauma to the upper back muscles.
* poor posture (sitting with shoulders slouched forward)
* caring a heavy object (such as heavily loaded backpack or purse)
* having chronic cough
* having scoliosis of the spine
* added weight from obesity or pregnancy
* vaginal childbirths
* tightened back muscles

Symptoms Of An Upper Back Muscle Strain

Remember that symptoms experienced with an upper back muscle strain will largely depend on the grade (severity) of injury. General symptoms may include any of the following:

* swelling, heat, redness, and tenderness over the affected muscle
* there may be localized bruising (especially in traumatic injuries)
* mild to severe pain
* pain may intensify with certain movements, positions, and postures
* muscle function may be mildly to severely limited
* mild to severe muscle weakness
* the upper back may feel stiff
* the affected muscle may spasm
* the affected muscle may have hard knots or lumps

 

Strengthening Exercises

These Upper Back Exercises are ideal to build strength and flexibility.
 
 
Massage Treatment

These Upper Back Massage Techniques are of great value in pain relief; circulation stimulation; dispersing blood and fluid accumulations; swelling reduction; and relaxing muscle spasms, especially when used alongside the Sinew Therapeutics liniments and soaks.

 

ACUTE STAGE SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT

 

This stage is characterized by swelling, redness, pain, and possibly a local sensation of heat, indicating inflammation. If coolness makes your pain feel better, then the Acute Stage Treatment is recommended.

 

ACUTE STAGE SYMPTOMS:

 

The acute stage starts the moment an injury occurs and lasts until the swelling and inflammation are gone. The swelling is the result of the blockage of blood, tissue fluids and circulation in the back because their normal movement has been disrupted by the force of the injury. Just like cars back up behind a traffic jam, causing congestion, exhaust and overheating; blood and fluids back up behind the injured back, causing pain, inflammation, lumps and swelling.

The sensation of heat is due to the warming action of the blood and fluids overheating in the injured back as they back up and accumulate. Stiffness and decreased mobility are due to spasms in tendons and ligaments that have contracted reflexively beyond their normal range from the impact of the injury.

As ligaments and tendons stretch and tear, blood from ruptured blood vessels becomes trapped in the local tissues. As the trapped blood clots up, it sticks the tissues together creating adhesions. Adhesions cause pain, inflammation and restricted movement because the layers of tissue that used to slide smoothly across one another now adhere and snap which interferes with normal functioning. It is essential to break up clotted blood as quickly as possible to prevent adhesions and scar tissue from forming.

During the acute stage it is very important to restore normal circulation to the back, break up clotted blood and stagnant fluids, reduce swelling, and reduce the redness and heat associated with inflammation. By restoring the flow of blood, fluids, and circulation in the back, then pain is relieved, damaged tissues can regenerate with healthy functional tissue, and the back can strengthen and regain it's mobility.

 

ACUTE STAGE TREATMENT:

 

1. Apply the Sinew Herbal Ice on your back to reduce redness, swelling, and inflammation while dispersing accumulated blood and fluids to help restore normal circulation to the back. This first-aid treatment is used in place of ice to significantly speed up the healing process. It reduces the swelling and inflammation more effectively than ice, allowing you to more quickly regain range of motion. Acute Sinew Liniment can be used in-between applications.

Ice is not recommended because it does not help repair damaged tissues and keeps everything in the injured area frozen, causing the stagnation of blood and fluids and the contraction of muscles, tendons and ligaments. In Chinese sports medicine ice is not used and is considered a culprit in injuries that donít heal well.

2. Massage your back with Acute Sinew Liniment to relieve pain, reduce swelling and inflammation, break up clotted blood and stagnant fluids, and stimulate circulation of blood and fluids to help cells quickly repair damaged tissues. Sinew Herbal Ice can be used in-between applications.

3. The Sinew Sports Massage Oil is recommended for use before and after exercise, sports and strenuous activity. It warms and stimulates your muscles, increases circulation and relieves tightness, hence improving your performance and helping to prevent injury.

 

 

CHRONIC STAGE SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT

 

This stage begins once the swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel pain, stiffness, weakness, and/or sensitivity in cold and damp weather. If heat makes your pain feel better, then the Chronic Stage Treatment is recommended.


CHRONIC STAGE SYMPTOMS:

 

The chronic stage begins once the swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel aching pain and stiffness. This is because there are still accumulations of stagnant blood and fluids in your back that are blocking circulation and blood supply to damaged tissues, creating residual pain, stiffness and weakness. You may actually feel hard nodules like sand in the tissue, indicating accumulation, calcification, and adhesions, which all cause pain, stiffness, and joint instability.

Your back may feel more sensitive to the cold and ache in cold and damp weather due to impaired circulation. When you move your back you may hear a clicking or popping sound from the tendons and ligaments slipping very slightly in and out of their natural alignment indicating weakness and joint instability, causing chronic pain and a cycle of reinjury. These symptoms are often the result of failure to treat the injury properly from the outset and overicing.

Increasing circulation and blood supply to the damaged tissues is very important in treating chronic injuries because tendons and ligaments do not have an extensive direct supply of blood. That is why chronic injuries can be slow to heal. Increasing local circulation also prevents cold and dampness from penetrating the injured area, preventing pain and stiffness.

During the chronic stage it is very important to break up remaining accumulations of blood and fluids, and increase circulation and blood supply to the damaged tissues. By increasing circulation and blood flow in the back, then pain and stiffness is relieved, and the tendons and ligaments can strengthen to restore stability.


CHRONIC STAGE TREATMENT:

 

1. Massage your back with Chronic Sinew Liniment to relieve pain and stiffness, strongly stimulate circulation and blood flow to damaged tissues, and promote the healing of overstretched tendons and ligaments. The Sinew Relaxing Soak can be used in-between applications.

2. Soak your back with the Sinew Relaxing Soak to relax muscles and tendons that are in spasm, ease joint pain and stiffness, and improve range of motion. The Sinew Relaxing Soak is particularly useful if you feel restricted mobility in your back. The soak can be used by saturating a towel in the liquid and applying it to your back. Chronic Sinew Liniment can be used in-between applications.

3. The Sinew Sports Massage Oil is recommended for use before and after exercise, sports and strenuous activity. It warms and stimulates your muscles, increases circulation and relieves tightness, hence improving your performance and helping to prevent injury.