This region forms the base for the upper limb to work from but it is itself built upon the base of the entire trunk and core. Any assessment of the upper back must take into account how it relates to the rest of the trunk in a range of activities, this includes the low back, the abdominal region, the chest and rib cage. The only way we can really take the way you use your body into account is to actually assess for it, to get you to do a range of movements and activities and see how you actually perform them.
So how do we work out why your upper back is sore?
We start with a regular health and injury history and a standard orthopedic & neurological assessment like any other therapist would. This is to help us work out what sort of pain you likely have (there are different types of pain and they need to be managed differently) and to see if we can isolate where the pain might be coming from… but that doesn’t tell us much about why you have this pain or how we’re best to try and change it.
To work these things out we’ll combine what we know from your history and conventional musculoskeletal exam with a functional assessment of how you load the upper back and shoulder in various everyday movement patterns like twists and planks.
This video is a snippet of some of the movements we might look at when assessing your upper back pain so you have an idea of what we’re looking at when we examine you.