Greater Manchester


Physiotherapy for Upper Back Pain (Thoracic Spine)

Upper Back (Thoracic Spine)The upper back is the middle part of the spinal column – the middle twelve vertebrae we call the thoracic spine.

We provide physiotherapy for upper back pain, stiffness and loss of mobility. So, if you are suffering with any of these symptoms early diagnosis and physiotherapy treatment will help you achieve optimal recovery.

We will identify during your initial appointment whether the cause of your upper back pain is musculoskeletal in nature and advise the most appropriate course of action.

Like any spinal condition, it can be extremely painful and worrying, especially if it affects your ability to carry out your normal lifestyle.

The earlier you seek physiotherapy for upper back pain the better the results will be, and you will also achieve them more quickly.

Common Questions about Upper Back Pain

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about upper back pain but please don’t hestitate to call us to discuss your situation.


What can cause upper back pain?

Upper back pain can be caused by many factors such as poor posture, age related degenerative changes, workstations that are set up incorrectly, sudden twisting movements, lifting or carrying with poor technique, wearing a backpack, prolonged static postures and of course trauma such as car accidents.


What will happen if I don’t get it treated?

If you don’t seek early treatment you may develop chronic symptoms and decrease your chance of optimal recovery.


What techniques might be used to relieve the pain in my upper back?

Treatment comprises of many techniques dependent on your presentation including; – massage, mobilisation, manipulation, electrotherapy, exercise programmes, re-education of posture, ergonomic and self-management advice.


What other techniques might be used to relieve the pain in my upper back?

Other treatments and techniques we may use for your upper back pain include; – Acupuncture, Pilates and Podiatry


How long does treatment take?

This of course can vary considerably dependent on many factors such as how early you seek treatment, the severity of your presentation, your age, fitness levels and your adherence to the advice given. We measure our outcomes at Metro Physio and the average treatment plan for this area of the body is approximately 4-6 sessions over a 2-4 week period.


Will I need surgery for upper back pain?

It is incredibly rare that patients with upper back pain go on to require surgery. It is only usually appropriate if nerves are being severely compressed and causing severe symptoms radiating into the ribs and chest.


What exercises can I do at home?

This depends on your presentation but the most important exercise is to keep correcting your posture through the day so your head is over your body and not poking forward, your shoulders not poking forward and you are maintaining the normal ‘S’ shape curve of the spine. It is also helpful to maintain mobility by doing circles of the shoulders in both directions.


Is it ok for me to exercise when I have upper back pain?

As long as you don’t have any of the below symptoms it is highly recommended that you exercise and that this will help speed up your recovery. All forms of exercise can help so it is recommended you find a form of exercise you enjoy as you are more likely to continue with it.


When is physiotherapy not appropriate?

If you suffer from any of the following, we advise you urgently attend your GP to rule out that there is no other underlying pathology:

• General health problems

• Unexplained weight loss

• Pain affected by eating meals

• Severe symptoms caused by trauma

• Unremitting pain

Common Conditions at the Thoracic Spine

The most common cause of upper back pain is thoracic facet joint pain.

The thoracic facet joints are the small joints between the upper and lower vertebrae and can become painful due to normal age-related degenerative changes and poor posture that stresses the joints.

Whiplash can also cause upper back pain due to sharp movements during the rapid deceleration of a car crash which overstretches the soft tissues of the neck and upper back.

The good news is that physiotherapy for upper back pain is usually very effective and patients normally responds very quickly.


Practical Tips to Prevent Upper Back Pain


Many of the patients we treat for upper back pain are victims of modern lifestyles and some of the everyday activities we all take for granted.

Here are some practical tips to prevent upper back pain proactively – and to avoid needing physiotherapy for upper back pain in the future.

1. Maintain good posture

Keep the normal ‘S’ curve in your spine, your head directly over your shoulders and do not let your shoulders poke forward. Remember to keep gently moving and do not hold yourself in a rigid static posture. Good posture equalises the strain on your musculoskeletal system and avoids putting too much stress on the upper back.

2. Sensible screen time

We all love looking at screens, whether it’s the TV, computer, tablet or smartphone, but be sensible about your usage. Regular breaks to look at things further away, to move around and to relax your neck and upper back can help prevent them from seizing up.

3. Don’t keep still too long

Humans were designed to move, and inactivity is very poor for our physical and mental health. Keeping moving improves posture and strengthens the stabilising ligaments and muscles of the spine.

4. Use correct manual handling principles

Make sure you lift and carry things with good posture and correct technique.


Get Treatment for Upper Back Pain

If you need physiotherapy for upper back pain, please get in touch. We can arrange an assessment to determine the cause of your upper backpain and decide the best course of action.

To find out more about physiotherapy for upper back pain, to diagnose your thoracic spine pain, or just to speak to a member of our team for more information complete an online enquiry form or call 0161 745 7551