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My wife has been suffering from upper back pain for the last 20 days. It gets worse at night when going to bed. I have used a product containing Nilgiri oil and a hot water bottle but it is not helping at all. Please suggest a treatment.

Upper back pain is often caused by a weakening and over-stretching of the muscles between the shoulder blades.

This is often a result of spending too long too often with your head in the position akin to reading a book that is on your lap.

Regular Cyclists also might experience the same pain from riding with their hands too wide, rather than roughly shoulder-width apart, causing the back to sag between the shoulders.

Here are some exercises to strengthen those deconditioned muscles. They take less than 5 minutes to do:

  -  Whilst stood, squeeze your shoulder blades together so that it causes your shoulders to be drawn rearward. Hold for a count of 5 each time and repeat for one minute initially. Starting with a can of beans or soup, bend forwards so that your forearm is resting on the arm of a chair or coffee table. Your torso should be roughly horizontal. With the can in your opposite hand, raise your free arm upwards and outwards, keeping it straight until the arm is parallel to the floor. Slowly lower the arm to your side again so that your arms is hanging vertically and repeat 10 times to begin with. Switch sides.

To make this harder, increase the weight in your hand or simply avoid dropping your arm to the vertical position, so its range movement is merely from the 8 o'clock position to parallel (9 o'clock).

You'll be surprised what a difference this makes.

Try to do these exercises every other day, increasing the weight or repetitions weekly.

You may wish to apply some Atrogel® to the affected muscles, especially before bed and upon waking.

Best wishes


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