We spend a great deal of time talking about pain in the lower back, what is less often mentioned is pain that originates higher up the spine, thoracic back pain.
The thorax is the part of the spine that the ribs connect to. It starts at the base of the neck and finishes with the last rib.
Pain in the thorax can be due to many factors, it is a common occurrence in those who spend a lot of time sitting at a desk in a fixed position. It can be due to a lack of mobility in the ribs, which attach directly to the spine. This is frequently seen in asthmatics, smokers and those suffering from a large amount of stress, as these can all negatively impact breathing mechanics. Thoracic pain is frequently noticed by those who take up a new activity which involves an element of rotation through the spine, swimming and running are two good examples.
If the body is unable to rotate correctly during these activities it can lead to pain , not just in the thorax but into the neck, shoulders and lower back. It is the link between your lower back and your neck and thus plays a vital role in stabilising the body and allowing free movement on activity. Thoracic pain is often confused with shoulder pain as the two are situated so close together, in order to differentiate, it is necessary to test both the thorax and the shoulder to find the culprit.
A comprehensive case history will be taken, as thoracic pain can be linked with the vital organs, (heart, lungs etc.) which can refer pain to the thoracic area. Usually treatment of thoracic pain will involve a full assessment of the tissues and movement of the area, followed by treating the spine itself, the shoulders and the ribs as they are all so intrinsically linked. A combination of soft tissue release(massage), stretching and mobilisation of the joints helps to improve the function of the thoracic spine and allows for more free movement throughout the rest of the body.
You will be advised on how your posture may be leading to ongoing problems and you will be given exercises and stretches to promote mobility to the area.
If you or someone you know is suffering from middle back pain, give us a call at WBIC. For more on back care, take a look at our latest live video here.