Upper Back & Neck Pain

Upper back and neck injuries are relatively rare in sport and more often occur from activities of daily living, such as waking up with a wry neck (torticollis).  Neck injuries that are sustained in sport must be taken very seriously, especially if they are associated with symptoms of concussion or referred pain into the shoulders and arms.

Stiff Neck

A stiff neck is a common complaint which will probably affect everyone at some point in their life. It is however, usually short-lived, lasting for just a few days at a time. More often than not a stiff neck is caused by muscular tightness.

Scheuermann's Disease

Scheuermann's Disease is a hereditary disease that mainly affects growing boys. It is the most common postural abnormality of the spine in the younger athlete. Children complain of acute pain in the upper back and in later years the upper spine (thoracic) may become more rounded.

Fractured Larynx

A fractured larynx occurs when a direct impact causes a break in the voice box. This is a rare but potentially life-threatening injury.

Brachial Plexopathy

Brachial plexopathy occurs when there is damage to the brachial plexus - the bundle of nerve which exit your spinal cord at the base of the neck, between the C5 and T1 vertebrae.

Dislocated Vertebrae

A dislocated vertebrae is a displacement of one of the small bones in the neck (which form the spine) in relation to the others. This occurs following a traumatic injury of the head or neck.

Neck Strain

A neck strain is a muscle injury of the neck.  A neck strain is quite a common injury and generally is a mild to moderate injury which clears by itself within a few days to a week.

Intervertebral sprains are ligament injuries to any of the ligaments of the spine. This can happen in any part of the spine, although the neck and upper back are more common.

Stingers and Burners

This is a common condition in American Football and other contact sports, caused by nerve compression from impact to the neck and shoulder area. This can cause a stinging or burning sensation to spread from the shoulder, down the arm, as far as the hand.

Kyphosis

Kyphosis is a postural syndrome of the upper back and neck where the shoulders appear rounded and the upper back hunched. We examine the causes and treatment options.

Costovertebral Joint Sprain

A dislocated vertebrae is a displacement of one of the small bones in the neck (which form the spine) in relation to the others. This occurs following a traumatic injury of the head or neck.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome is a term used to describe the compression of nerves and / or blood vessels which travel from the neck to the armpit (axilla). Compression of these structures can cause pain, tingling, numbness and weakness from the neck and throughout the arm.

Radiating Neck Pain

Pain in the neck which radiates to other areas is usually a result of nerves being trapped. The cause of the trapped nerve can be tight muscles, disc damage, or formation of bony deposits.

Whiplash

Whiplash, or acceleration / deceleration injury as it is also known is injury to the neck, caused by a rapid forwards and backwards motion of the head. This occurs most commonly from a car accident, although can also be sustained through sports involving direct contact or a fall onto the head.

Broken Neck

A broken neck is a fracture of one of the 7 cervical vertebrae between the skull and the upper back and shoulders. A fracture to this area is a serious injury as the vertebrae protect the spinal cord which if damaged as a result can cause paralysis or even death.

Cervicalgia is a pain in the neck which does not radiate outwards (or down the arms). Cervicalgia is slightly different to a neck strain, which is usually more short-lived.

Tight Muscles - Upper Back

A lot of pain that occurs in the upper back and neck is due to tight muscles in the neck, shoulders and upper back. We look at the symptoms, causes and possible treatment options in more detail.

Muscles attach to the spine via tendons. These tendons can become inflamed, often through over use. The muscles in the upper back and neck are prone to this due to poor posture (see Scoliosis / Kyphosis).

Significant trauma to the neck and upper back should always receive urgent medical care. Similarly, those that are associated with severe pain or ongoing impairment following a sporting injury should always be seen by a doctor or healthcare professional such as a physiotherapist, sports therapist, chiropractor or osteopath.