The spinal column consists of more than 30 individual bones divided into 5 different regions, of which the longest and probably the most anatomically complex is the thoracic spine. This region stretches between the cervical and the lumbar spine, providing support for the entire upper back.
Being the only region of the spinal column that is attached to the rib cage, the thoracic spine serves two main purposes—to protect the spinal cord, a purpose it shares with the rest of the vertebrae, and to support the bone structure that shields vital organs such as the lungs and the heart.
Thoracic spine’s unique position makes it less mobile than its adjacent regions. While it is capable of performing axial rotation, its forward/backward and side-bending movements are quite limited. With a restricted range of motion, the thoracic spine can easily experience discomfort when abruptly twisted or arched, although there are a handful of other reasons why you might feel pain in this region of the spine.
What are the causes of thoracic spine pain?
Despite the fancy name, thoracic spine pain is actually a common condition, and that’s mainly due to the sheer number of possible causes. It can arise as a result of a minor injury on your upper back, repetitive motion, or when your occupation involves long periods of bending over, heavy lifting, and back stretching. In most cases, thoracic spine pain of these origins eventually settle down without treatment.
There are cases of thoracic spine pain, however, that require immediate attention. For instance, those that originated from serious physical trauma or from existing musculoskeletal condition must be treated in physiotherapy clinics such as Institute of Sport Physiotherapy. The same goes for thoracic spine pain caused by cartilage tears and degeneration as well as rib misalignment or displacement. Only a certified physiotherapist can properly diagnose your condition and devise the safest and most efficient treatment plan.
How is thoracic spine pain treated?
Just like treating any other physical condition, thoracic spine pain treatment starts with a diagnostic test. Your physiotherapist needs to know exactly what’s causing the discomfort in order to come up with an accurate treatment plan. In case the initial examination reveals no clear information, an x-ray may be employed.
Generally, thoracic spine pain relief exercises are included in the treatment plan. This may involve stretches, arm balance and resistance rows, and some crunches. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may need a series of thoracic spine physical therapy sessions under the care of a physio in Grafton or Newmarket until the pain disappears and your body returns to its normal state and posture.
Some medical professionals may recommend surgery in case the diagnosis reveals a serious underlying condition, one that involves vital organs within the rib cage, but this is very rare. It’s important to note that surgery should be the last resort and must be avoided as much as possible, especially because physiotherapy may be the ultimate remedy.
To prevent thoracic spine pain, you must adhere to a healthy lifestyle by doing regular back workout and maintaining a good posture. Balanced diet with emphasis on bone-strengthening food and drink may also help. Just make sure that everything you will intake to support your workout is recommended by a qualified physiotherapist.