October 6, 2021
Erin Kelm, SPT and Kaylee Bumpus, SPT
How is my neck pain related to my upper back (thoracic spine)?
The bones and muscles in your upper back are all connected to your neck. If your upper back is stiff or not moving properly, it can affect how your neck moves and potentially contribute to pain.1
What can we do to help your thoracic spine move better?
A physical therapist may perform a thoracic manipulation if they feel that you have stiff segments in your spine.2 A manipulation is a quick thrust motion that may or may not cause a “pop” sound. It may help your spine move the way that it is supposed to, usually feels good, and has been shown in several studies to provide neck pain relief.2,3,4 Our physical therapists at Imagine PT are experts in thoracic manipulation, and are willing to try various techniques to determine the most effective method to provide neck pain relief to our patients.
Thoracic Mulligan Technique:
This technique, known as a SNAG (sustained natural apophyseal glide) may be performed on the thoracic spinal segments if there is a restriction in motion or if pain is brought on by movement.⁵ During this technique, a physical therapist will provide a glide to the restricted spinal segment while the patient performs the painful movement (bending or rotation).⁶ SNAGs are most effective when the movement is pain free, provides immediate relief, and is long lasting.⁵ Research has shown that thoracic mulligan techniques can provide relief for individuals with neck or back pain that is brought on by movement.7,8,9 At Imagine PT, our physical therapists are trained in thoracic mulligan techniques to create pain free movements in patients experiencing neck pain.
What happens after these techniques?
Thoracic manipulations or thoracic mulligan techniques provided by a physical therapist have been proven to provide pain relief, but it is important to work on strength and proper movement to maintain that relief.⁹ Here at Imagine PT, your physical therapist can perform these techniques and will work with you to come up with a personalized strengthening and stretching program to ensure that you are strong and moving correctly.
If you or someone you know is experiencing neck pain, come to Imagine Physical Therapy and our therapists can use these non-invasive techniques to help you get back to living a pain free life!