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5 Stretches for Upper Back Pain

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What back pain really means

Back pain is incredibly common. In fact, 4 out of 5 Canadians will experience at least one episode of back pain in their lifetime. Sometimes the pain can be so severe that it can be hard to move, think, or even breathe.

“Back pain is common because it’s really a symptom of something else that’s going on,” says Gbolahan Okubadejo, MD, a board-certified spinal and orthopedic surgeon at the Institute for Comprehensive Spine Care in New York and New Jersey. “Our body has a finite number of alarms it can sound to alert us that something’s wrong or that behavior is affecting our spine, so many conditions or bad habits have back pain as an overlapping symptom,” Dr. Okubadejo explains. And when you don’t know the direct cause of your pain, it can make it harder to treat it.

(Related: 8 Reasons Why Your Back Is Hurting)

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