Thoracic spine pain affects the thoracic spine, also referred to as the mid back. As the name suggests, this represents the middle section of the back. The other two spine regions are the cervical spine, corresponding to the neck and upper back, and the lumbar spine, which is more commonly known as the lower back.
On average, thoracic spine problems tend to affect less people than lumbar or cervical spine problems, but the mid back presents pathologies that can have a significant impact on a person’s life, regardless of their prevalence.
What causes thoracic pain?
Pain in the middle region of the back can be caused by a variety of issues, including spinal disorders, posture problems and injuries. Some of the more common causes include:
- Ankylosing spondylitis, a degenerative disease leading to inflammation and altered spine posture due to fusion of the spinal bones.
- Degenerating discs, where the discs lose a large portion of their water content, which results in a loss of cushioning abilities.
- Degenerating spinal joints, resulting in the wearing down of cartilage and eventually to bone-on-bone rubbing, as well as a reduction in mobility and range of motion.
- Herniated or bulging discs, where the discs protrude outside of their natural anatomical position.
- A mechanical injury.
- Muscle strains from overuse of muscle groups in the middle back, due to engaging in physically-intensive activities either as part of a workout routine or as part of your work.
- Nerve pinching, mostly due to herniated or bulging discs, spinal stenosis, or spinal compression.
- Prolonged poor posture due to sitting in a position that is not favourable for your spine.
- Sleeping in an uncomfortable or awkward posture that strains your spine while you sleep.
- Spinal stenosis, where the spinal passage, also referred to as the spinal canal, becomes obstructed and can impinge on nerve roots or even the spinal cord.
- Thoracic kyphosis, which is a deformation of the spine that consists of an exaggerated curvature of the mid back, leading to posture alterations.
- Spinal compression, which causes the spinal column, mainly the vertebrae, spinal joints, and spinal discs to be pressed down, and the resulting pressure can lead to pain.
What does pain in the thoracic spine feel like?
The signs and symptoms of problems in the thoracic region can be quite uncomfortable, and depending on the cause and location along the mid back, it can lead to:
- Localised middle back pain or upper back pain.
- Radiating pain, that occurs when a different region of the back is affected, but causes pain elsewhere. For example, sciatica, which occurs in the lower back can often lead to lower back pain, but in some instances the pain is not felt locally, but instead it can manifest in the thoracic area.
- In some instances, chest pain can also occur.
- Sometimes numbness and tingling sensations may be present.
Thoracic spine pain can feel as dull or sharp pain, and can be mild or severe. Sometimes it can feel like a burning sensation, tightness along the back, and it may feel as if your range of motion is restricted.
What are the treatment options for thoracic pain?
Back pain, regardless of the region where it occurs, can sometimes go away on its own with sufficient rest, although this largely depends on the cause, as well as how long the pain has been present for. In cases where the pain is not severe, there are various non-invasive home remedies to consider, including:
- Applying a heated pad or an ice pack to the affected region of the back.
- Taking a break from activities that might worsen the symptoms.
- Correcting your posture.
- Stretching and exercising, including exercises to decompress the spine.
Spinal compression in particular can be attributed to the onset of several back problems, and by treating it, pressure on the spine is relieved, and along with it, pain also disappears. You can decompress your spine from home with the help of the Backrack.