If your breasts are D-cups or larger, you have an increased risk of upper back and neck pain. The body’s natural center of gravity is at the hips, and carrying a heavy weight above this center can stress the spine and tissues around it.
Large breasts can cause back and neck pain due to simple muscle strain. The muscles in the back, neck and shoulders must work to support the upper body, which is heavier than the muscles are built to support in large-breasted women. Postural changes occur as the body tries to compensate; the upper back and neck will often be pulled back, causing the lumbar spine to arch inward more. Eventually, altered posture can cause abnormal curvature of the spine.
The spine naturally curves inward in the lumbar region of the lower back, outward in the thoracic region connecting to the rib cage, and inward again in the cervical portion in the neck. Both women who adjust their posture in the aforementioned way and those who simply stoop forward due to the weight of their breasts will eventually disrupt this natural curvature.
As the distance and angles between vertebrae change, increased pressure is placed on sections of spinal discs. These discs act as cushions between vertebrae, consisting of a gel center and a tough exterior. As pressure on the discs becomes consistently uneven, it is possible for them to bulge, the gel being pushed to one side and weakening the exterior ring.
Bulging discs can have no side effect at all. Some women with large breasts, however, may experience tingling, weakness and numbness in the arms and hands. This is especially typical of bulging discs between the 4th and 5th and 5th and 6th cervical vertebrae. Effects along this nerve pathway indicate that the bulging disc is impinging the nerves that exit the spine and travel to upper body parts. Nerve impingement can be a serious condition, and in order to avoid the risk of long-term nerve damage, treatment to restore normal disc shape should be sought.
For women with large breasts, a treatment plan for upper back and neck pain must include steps to disseminate the weight of the chest. The best way to limit strain is to wear the appropriate bra size and find bras that support and distribute breast weight. Many women wear the wrong bra size, and for large-breasted women, that can be an expensive and painful mistake. It is a good idea to get fitted by professionals. Search your area for panty shops that do fittings, like the one found here: http://myintimacy.com/. Though the cost of a good bra may seem prohibitive at first, it’s much cheaper than surgery.
Postural retraining is another step along the recovery path. A physical therapist can help you build up supportive muscles in the back and shoulders, relieving pressure off the discs and better equipping your upper body to carry the weight of your chest. By assessing your posture and movement, a physical therapist can help you to retrain your body to maintain a more natural curvature of the spine.
If physical therapy and special bras do not relieve your neck and back pain, it is time to consider breast reduction surgery. This will immediately remove the burden of oversized breasts. The American Society For Aesthetic Plastic Surgery averages the cost of breast reduction at $6,000 in the U.S., a number far lower than most surgeries for spinal discs. Insurance may cover a portion or the totality of the procedure if it is recommended by a doctor or orthopedic specialist.
It must be noted that having breast reduction surgery usually will not cure your upper back and neck pain overnight. The prolonged strain on your muscles and spine still needs undoing. Without retraining posture and relaxing chronically tense muscles, back pain will continue. If physical therapy was ineffective before surgery, it will likely work well as a supplement.
More information on breast reduction surgery can be found out http://www.webmd.com/back-pain/features/is-breast-reduction-right-for-you. Surgery is always a last resort; educate yourself on more conservative treatments before considering surgery.
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