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Effective Therapy for Upper Back Pain

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The upper back or thoracic spine is the area below the cervical spine and above the lumbar spine.

While it’s most stable part of the spine, there is little range of motion in this region due to the spine’s attachments to the ribs.

Pain in the upper back is typically caused by injury, poor posture, or muscle overuse. Regardless of the cause, it's best to get upper back pain therapy right away to get relief and prevent symptoms from worsening.


Get lasting relief from upper back pain once and for all! Don’t let your pain hold you back from living your life. Learn the 100% surgery and drug free method that thousands of Americans are choosing to relieve their back pain once and for all.

Click here to learn more
Shoulder Pain

Causes of Upper Back Pain

Upper back pain is usually a result of soft tissue injuries (sprains or strains) or muscle tension from overuse or poor posture. Common causes of pain in the upper back include:

  • Whiplash or other neck injury

  • Thoracic herniated disc

  • Severe spinal deformity

  • Poor posture

  • Muscle overuse

  • Improper lifting

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Contact sports

  • Compression fractures

  • Carrying too heavy a load

  • Arthritis

Common Symptoms of Upper Back Pain

If you hurt your upper back due to an injury, you might experience:

  • Tightness

  • Tenderness to touch

  • Stiffness

  • Intense pain

  • Headache

If your upper back pain is caused by a sudden misalignment in the bones, nerves, or discs of your thoracic spine, symptoms may also include:

  • Pain in the lower back

  • Pain down the legs

  • Numbness or weakness in your legs

  • Bowel or bladder incontinence

Diagnosing Upper Back Pain

Diagnosis begins with a physical examination and an evaluation of your physical activities and previous injuries, if any.

If symptoms persist or if you start experiencing progressive bowel or bladder control problems, your doctor may recommend advanced testing such as MRI or CT scans, bone density tests, and nerve studies.

Traditional Treatments (that Can Actually Harm You)

upper back physical therapy
  • Prescription drugs - Doctors may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, opioid pain relievers, or muscle relaxants to ease upper and mid back pain.

  • Injections - Spinal steroid injections can help relieve upper back pain caused by inflamed nerve roots.

  • Surgery – In severe cases, doctors may recommend surgical procedures such as kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty, spinal laminectomy, or microdiscectomy.

While doctors have good intentions, they are really just treating your pain symptoms with these treatments, even surgery. They are not addressing the ROOT CAUSE of the pain, which is most often a musculoskeletal problem. Poor motion in one or more areas of your body can cause the problem that is causing your back pain. Only good physical therapy can address the root causes relieve pain for good.

Watch this great video by Dr. Gorecki on increasing upper spine mobility: https://youtu.be/4dzcARU5tWM 


We have online courses and a number of books (including one on Back Pain) available for Free by Clicking Here.

Superior Physical Therapy

Unlike traditional treatments that carry potential risks and reportedly work only 45% of the time, our Superior Method offers a safe, painless, and risk-free road to healing. Our treatment options concentrate on finding the root cause of pain to alleviate discomfort and restore strength and function to the upper back.

Superior Physical Therapy
  • Full-body Movement Assessment

    The most important element of healing is identifying the cause. The cause is a movement disorder somewhere else in the body that is creating more stress in the injured area than the tissue can handle. A full body movement assessment is the most important aspect in finding the true cause. This involves assessing how mobile and stable the areas above and below the injured tissues are.  Once the dysfunctional areas are identified the physical therapist can then prescribe home treatments to fix the problem areas.

  • Hands-on Therapy with Movement

    In order to improve motion in the dysfunctional areas that are causing the increased stress on the painful injured tissues the most effect way to make a change in the body is to have a physical therapist use their hands to facilitate the proper motion while you are moving at the same time. This helps improve the path the body takes in order to reduce stress and tenson on the injured area.

  • Prescriptive Home Exercise Program

    The Superior Method aims to educate patients on how the body moves to safely ease pain and restore function.

    With our smartphone app called Movement RX, we empower patients with the knowledge and tools needed to attain long-term physical freedom. All of the instructions provided by your physician will also be video-recorded and sent directly to your email or mobile device.

  • Applied Functional Science

    This principles-based method is designed to improve how the mind, body, and spirit work together to facilitate complete healing. All Superior Physical Therapy providers are Fellows of Applied Functional Science through the Gray Institute. This organization is led by the reputable physical therapist, Dr. Gary Gray.

  • couple physical therapy with nurse
    SPT Dry Needling
  • Deep Muscle Stimulation

    Mechanical vibrations that penetrate deep into the muscle tissue enable tissue regeneration and improve the lactic cycle, which is one of the most common causes of pain. The procedure also helps boost circulation and lymphatic flow to alleviate pain.

  • Dry Needling

    A fast, safe, and virtually pain-free method to reduce pain and address musculoskeletal presentations. In dry needling, trigger points or local contractures are stimulated by monofilament needles.

  • McKenzie Therapy

    The McKenzie Method® of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy® (MDT) is a distinguished and internationally researched method of diagnosis and treatment for spinal and extremity musculoskeletal conditions. Created by New Zealand Physiotherapist Robin McKenzie, this system has been used globally for over 60 years.

    MDT-certified clinicians assess and treat all types of musculoskeletal disorders including complications in the spine, muscles, tendons, and extremity joints.

  • female physical therapist doing physical therapy

    Book Your No Risk Back Pain Consultation Today

    Learn the root cause of your back pain so that you can treat it without having to pay an arm and a leg for pills or surgery. Get your complementary path forward consultation with pain and movement specialist, Dr. Andrew Gorecki today! You have nothing to lose.

    On this call you will be asked some basic questions as well as provided more information about how to treat your pain. Don’t delay, pick up the phone and call 231.944.6541 or request a consultation today before spots fill up.

    Request Appointment
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    Contact Information
    Office Hours: 
    7am - 7pm Monday to Friday
    Superior Physical Therapy (West) 
    3899 West Front St., 
    Traverse City, MI 49684
    Superior Physical Therapy & Spine Center (Central) 
    722 Munson Ave, Traverse City, MI 49686
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