Let’s start by explaining “thoracic”. The spine goes from the head all the way down to the buttocks. When we start from the upper top, first comes the cervical (neck) spine, then comes the thoracic (upper back) spine and finally the lumbar (lower back) and the sacral (buttock) part of the spine. This is how our spine is divided.
The thoracic part of your back (spine) is less likely to get hurt than the lumbar (lower) or cervical (neck) part of the spine. However, problems with the thoracic spine can be just as much painful and annoying as lumbar or cervical ones. Plus, the ribs are attached to this thoracic back part, and that’s another reason why this pain is no good.
How common thoracic back pain is?
Like we said before, thoracic back pain is less common the lumbar or neck pain. Statistics show that only 1 out of 10 people is affected by thoracic back pain. Compared to neck pain, where 5 out of 10 are affected and lumbar (lower back) pain, where 9 out of 10 people suffer from it, we can see that thoracic back pain is much rare.
Most Common Causes of Thoracic Back Pain
- Sprained or torn ligament.
- Sprained or torn muscle.
- Damaged facet joint (that holds the spine together).
- Problems with some disc between the vertebrae.
- Having a poor posture.
- Lifting heavy objects.
- Some kind of accidents.
- Some sudden awkward movements, such as sudden twisting or sudden bending.
- Wear and tear caused by aging – as we grow older, our body slowly tends to lose the ability to repair itself and our tissues and joints start to wear out. This can be a reason for the facet joints and the discs between the vertebrae to become weak and worn out.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – although rheumatoid arthritis rarely affects this part of the back, it is possible that it can be the cause for your thoracic back pains.
- Osteoporosis – some bone disorders such as osteoporosis can affect your thoracic back part.
- Muscle injuries – it is possible that your thoracic back pain is caused by some muscle injury and that it’s not connected in any way with spine or bone injuries.
Symptoms of Thoracic Back Pain
Pain in the upper back – no matter if the cause is muscular or a bone condition, pain in the upper back will be the first symptom that something is wrong. No matter what caused the pain, you will feel pain in the thoracic part of your back,
If some changes or damages of the bone structure start pressing some spinal nerve roots, you might start feeling pain in some other body parts, such as: your chest area, stomach area, bowels, your lower back area, your arms, legs, your shoulder, your neck, etc.
Weakness of some arm or leg muscle – if you feel some muscle in your arms or legs to be too weak, or abnormally weak, and plus you feel upper back pain, this can be a serious symptom and you should immediately contact your doctor;
Bladder or bowel problems – if you have these problems along with upper back pain, you must go and visit a professional;
Pain that gets worse – most of the back pains, including thoracic back pain, come suddenly and quickly. If you suffer from thoracic back pain that becomes worse as time goes by, this can be a sign of something more serious, especially if at the same time you suffer from some other disease.
Treatment of Thoracic Back Pain
Stay active, but do not overuse your back and spine.
Medications, such as some pain-killers can help you reduce the pain and find a little relief.
Anti-inflammatory medications can help if your affected places are inflamed, which is likely to happen.
Physiotherapy – physiotherapy can be an important part in relieving pain, as well as an important part of improving your general body and back condition.
Chiropractic – a chiropractor can help by manipulating your spine and other joints and this is really important.
Exercising – you can ask a professional to give you a list of exercises that are safe and recommended for your condition.
Good posture – being careful of your posture in your every day life is very important. Sometimes you haven’t paid attention to the way you hold your body and this has obviously contributed to the painful condition you have now.