T Nation

Strange Upper Back Pain


I have posted this before a few month ago but my problem never fully went away so I am hoping for some new advice. My deadlift max is around 500lbs +/- 10lbs depending on the day but it seems whenever I go above385 I get a shooting pain on the right side of my upper back but its inside underneith the scapula and hard to pinpoint and even harder to stretch.

I had ART done on it a few months ago following the advice from my previous post. As long my right hand is overhand the pain doesnt come in until 405-425. I am getting more ART done tomorrow but I doubt it will work any ideas on what this could be/ how to tret it. I have tried taking tme off from DL 3-4 weeks but once I go back to it and work up 400lbs or more I mess it up again. Any advice would be greatly apprieciated


How is your T-Spine mobility? Was the ART practitioner also a chiropractor? From what you described, it sounds like there could be a rib out of place. Have you been foam rolling your upper back? Do you find yourself rounding forward from the shoulders during your heavier deadlifts?


Sometimes my lower back will round slightly if i dont use my but but the upper back never/rarely rounds. Forgive my question but I can feel that this is a muscle problem, how would an out of place rib cause this


If a rib is out of place, it can disrupt the surrounding musculature as well. It will put the length/tension ratio out of whack by altering the attachment points of those muscles attached to the ribs. It may also effect your T-Spine mobility as well as effect proper scapular motion. Also, your body can sense when something isn't "quite right" and will react accordingly.

If your body senses the rib out of place, it will cause the surrounding musculature to spasm in order to guard and protect the area. Just like with an ankle sprain - you injured the ligaments in your ankle, your body realizes that, and reacts by causing the surrounding muscles of the ankle to spasm and guard in order to restrict the movement at the injured area.

Now, I'm not saying that you definitely have a rib out of place - just saying that it is a possibility based on the symptoms you listed initially. The T-Spine mobility and scapular motion/stability may be the major cause as well. It could also be stemming from thoracolumbar fascia tightness, latissimus dorsi tightness, paraspinal/errector spinae tightness, etc. The body works as a unit and if one link in the chain fails, another link needs to make up for it.

You are probably correct in that the symptoms are coming directly from a muscular issue - so you can get the ART/soft tissue work, ice/heat, etc to relieve the muscular symptoms and improve the muscle tissue quality.

But the BIG question is - What is causing the muscle to have the symptoms/become injured in the first place? Weakness? Imbalances? Structural issues? You have to find the root problem. If you have a leak in your roof, you don't just put a pot under it to collect the water - you fix the leak.


Thank you very much for your insight I am going to explore all the possibilities that you mentioned. Again thank you very much