Mechanical Pain

Our mid backs are stuck between the forces which the lower back creates and the demands which our shoulders and neck exert. As such it is both an important area and a common place for problems. The most common simple issue is bad posture which leads to muscle tightness and joint restriction. Both of these can be easily address through osteopathy. But we then have to find out where the problem came from in the first place and help you find a more permanent solution for it. Quite often the culprit is either poor sitting posture or poor exercise technique.

When we are sitting and our shoulders are not directly over the pelvis, when you are not sitting as far back in your chair as you can - even if by a few centimeters, your mid back has to hold your entire upper body weight for as long as you are sitting. What we work on tends to be in front of us so we have a tendency to lean forward. This tendency can be easily remedied simply by being aware of your position. This is subjective and different for everyone. The burning pain which we all tend to experience in the mid back is from muscles contracting for so long that their blood supply starts to falter. It’s the same process as when you hold heavy shopping for too long and your arms begin to have a burning ache. If this has only been happening for a short while, all we need to do is fix your posture and ease the tightness through treatment. Often joints are restricted too and we can mobilise these for you as well. However, the easiest longterm fix for this is just sitting correctly.

With all our patients who come complaining of this ailment, we generally ask them to bring a photo of their work station. This allows us to make sure that all of the little details are taken care of on that front. Anything from the glasses you wear to seating position, chair quality, desk height, screen position, etc. can be an issue and in the vast majority of cases is easy to fix. The mechanical issues are easily remedied via structural osteopathy, but they will return sooner or later if the cause isn’t taken care of. If a great many major changes are needed, we can also recommend who can help with that too or where you can purchase the equipment you might need.

Developmental problems in growing children can quite often happen in the mid back. The most common problem is called Scheurmann's disease where the vertebrae (spinal bones) are quite soft - usually because the child has grown quite quickly and they haven't calcified properly. This leads to the disc pushing up into the bone and creating a 'bone bruise' which results in significant pain with carrying a school bag, jumping, running, or in severe cases even just standing. We can help take load off this area with osteopathy as well as recommending activities which can help in the recover from this condition.

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Breathing Problems

Tightness in our biggest breathing muscle - the diaphragm - can create a significant tension in the mid back. This tension exerts a forward bending force. Your mid back joints, ligaments and muscles then not only have to fight gravity but they also need to try and overcome the force which the diaphragm is creating in a forward direction. The diaphragm can either be just tight on its own because your breathing patterns are not the best or other factors can affect it. This is easily addressed just through breathing training which we can handle in clinic. Otherwise your upper digestive organs can also cause it to tighten.

Reflux, gallbladder or liver problems are amongst the most common. Some of these organs can also cause a direct pain referral into the shoulders or midback. It is therefore important to distinguish these types of pain as they can indicate organ pathology. Such cases need referral back to a medical practitioner and osteopathy is likely to be at best a symptom reliever. There is also a nerve bundle nestled right under the middle of your diaphragm called the coeliac plexus. To give you an idea how important it is - often it is called the abdominal brain. It innervates all your upper digestive organs but most importantly it heavily innervates your adrenal glands. When you get stressed your adrenal glands are very active. So the coeliac plexus becomes very busy and can become a little sensitive to pressure. It’s similar (but not as bad) as when you get winded. As this nerve bundle becomes more sensitive, your diaphragm doesn’t contract as far as it can because it would put pressure on the coeliac plexus. This then leads to diaphragm tightness. With visceral osteopathy we can address any mechanical underlying organ dysfunction and release the diaphragm which then take a great load off the mid back. With structural osteopathy we can work to address any joint, muscle or ligament issues. With cranial osteopathy we can work to ease any stress / anxiety issues which may be causing either mid back or diaphragm tightness.

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