Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Medical Super stiff upper back

  1. Mar 10, 2010 #1
    Over the past couple years my back has tightened up like woah. I used to have a pretty flexible back. I also used to be a chronic back cracker. I could make music with my back every day and it felt great. However today I can barely twist at all as my range of motion is very limited. I am unable to crack my back at all now as I can barely rotate without pain and tight resistance. This is all definitely upper back related. I also sometimes get what I think are pinched nerve pains. Where I will get a unique ill or nauseous pain usually if I am sitting on a bus or chair for a bit also generated from my upper back. Laying on a flat hard surface usually helps the nauseous pain. Perhaps I need to strengthen my back or stretch it via yoga? Any ideas?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 10, 2010 #2

    lisab

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I've come to the conclusion that, when I have back troubles, it's best if I skip my regular doc and go straight to a massage therapist. If you find a good one, they can work wonders.
     
  4. Mar 10, 2010 #3

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Have you seen a doctor?
     
  5. Mar 10, 2010 #4

    turbo

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I had back troubles for many years, and I think I figured out that if I twisted hard and fast enough to make by spine crack, I was just moving the tension from one area to another. Now, if my back starts to tighten up, I'll straddle a workout bench with a broom handle on my shoulders and my hands/wrists over the handle, and slowly twist to one side then the other. Keeping my hips immobile, I try to twist using torso muscles only, and as the muscles loosen up, the range of motion improves so I can twist farther in each direction.

    Another helpful routine that can be done practically anywhere is shoulder rolls. You can be seated at your desk or on a bus, etc (if you don't mind the odd looks people will give you) and roll your shoulders forward a few times, then backward, then repeat. This is not "shrugs" which people often do with dumbbells in their hands, but a nice range-of-motion exercise that uses your upper-back, chest, and shoulder muscles together. Nice stress-reliever, too. Good luck Greg. Back problems are no fun.
     
  6. Mar 10, 2010 #5
    Really sorry to read about your condition. Been there, felt that in the past when I've been on the computer for a very long time. Seeing a doctor is important if it's chronic. Evo's advice is spot on the money. (Sometimes, a prescription is necessary for meds and/or PT (physical therapy), etc.)

    Personally for me, if it wasn't too chronic what worked for me in the past is standing up and placing my back against a wall then slowing raising my hands and arms against the wall until they were over my head if possible or as far as they would go. At least a stretch like that and/or on the floor slowly pulling my knees up to my chest a few times did help or still does help. A good chin touch to chest with a slow release a few times has been of help to me, followed up with a eucalyptus, rosehips, and chamomile mineral bath soak for an hour or so. Nice time to read and relax. :smile:

    Hope you feel better soon.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2010
  7. Mar 10, 2010 #6
    See your doctor (although a GP may not be of much use for anything else then a referral and maybe an OK to exercise) or a physical therapist, get an OK, then start to move. A PT will recommended stretching and possibly other form of physical exercises if you need them, and it will also asses correctly the areas in your body which need corrections.

    Then, exercise daily, with a balanced program, using full ROM exercises, play some sports, and slowly you will regain and easily maintain a normal range of motions in all joints.
     
  8. Mar 10, 2010 #7
    i have it mostly on the left side. i think it started years ago from having the left shoulder hitched up all the time on an arm rest. but generally, i think what you describe comes from overuse injury of muscles that elevate the shoulder girdle (levator scapulae, upper trapezius, scalenes, sternocleidomastoid). so, things like stress and bad ergonomics, and probably just old age, too (my anatomy book actually had myofascial pain syndrome listed, which kind of surprised me).

    i'm going to second the call for massage, but with a bit of a twist, doing it yourself. for about $20, you can get a self-massage manual from the late Clair Davies. i'm not going to claim it is magic, or that it doesn't take a lot of time and effort to get results, but it has helped me and many people i know.

    http://www.triggerpointbook.com/

    you might also want to experiment with some more radical ideas like giving up caffeine. :uhh:

    edit: oh, and yeah, stretching i think is good, too. especially if you will hold it long enough to get the muscle to loosen up a bit (over a minute).
     
  9. Mar 11, 2010 #8

    Monique

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    You should see a physiotherapist, they can recommend stretches that would be beneficial for you. I've been sitting behind the microscope a lot, which in some sense is even worse than sitting behind a computer: you don't have any freedom of movement. The right stretches really do help to increase flexibility. I find the following stretch to be very effective: http://www.myfittribe.com/jamcoretraining/items/circuit-1/balance-ball-shoulder-back-stretch.html".

    Yoga definitely is good, but Essentrics would be a better option. I regularly go to Essentrics and it really opens up your posture and strengthens core-muscles. You can check it out here: www.essentrics.com, if they are not in your area you may considering ordering a DVD (I would order one, but they are not in my country code).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  10. Mar 12, 2010 #9

    somasimple

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Hi,
    Tightness is related to pain in your case, it seems.
    Pain is a brain response to a physical treat that has many component :
    • Change in breathing pattern.
    • Slight increase of blood flow.
    • Hormones/endocrine production.
    • Muscle tone augmented.
    Perhaps your brain disallows, now, the huge treatment you used to maintain its flexibility.
    It's called "guarding" and removing this muscular armor is definitely a work for a physiotherapist.

    Try these sites:
    http://www.somasimple.com/forums
    http://physicaltherapy.rehabedge.com/
     
  11. Mar 14, 2010 #10

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    First, do get checked out by your doctor at least the first time. Make sure you're not developing some sort of arthritis or stress fractures or anything else that might be more serious. At your age, this is all very unlikely, but should just be ruled out. Most likely, it's as others have suggested, simply tight muscles (perhaps from bad posture sitting too long in a chair at a computer?) Most of the muscles in your upper back are actually shoulder muscles, so you may just need to do some appropriate shoulder stretches and be careful of your posture.
     
  12. Mar 15, 2010 #11

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I recently had an inflamed trapezius muscle, a week on muscle relaxants fixed it. No therapy needed.
     
  13. Mar 29, 2010 #12
    One of the best ways I have found for dealing with pain is reading the book "Pain free" by Pete Egoscue. Read the first three chapters then turn to the section that covers you pain, and follow the directions, it works.:approve:
     
  14. Apr 1, 2010 #13

    somasimple

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

  15. Apr 2, 2010 #14
  16. Apr 3, 2010 #15

    somasimple

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Congrats!
     
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook