The mid and upper back is made up of the twelve vertebrae known as the thoracic spine. Each of the vertebrae of the spinal column is separated by a disc with many layers of strong connective tissue wrapping around the disc. In the middle of each disc lies a soft jelly-like substance which is capable of changing shape. When this jelly-like substance protrudes from the disc due to a tear in the connective tissue, the result is known as a thoracic disc bulge.
There are several forceful or repetitive activities in everyday life which typically cause thoracic disc bulges. These include: bending forward, slouching, using your arms in front of the body, and lifting—especially in combination with a twisting motion.
Patients with a thoracic disc bulge may experience a sudden onset of back pain during the injurious activity; however, it is also common for patients to feel pain and stiffness after the activity, particularly the next morning.
Symptoms are typically felt in the mid-back, sometimes between or around the shoulder blades. You may experience pain around the ribs and into the chest. Muscle spasms, pins, and needles, numbness or weakness can also occur. Breathing, coughing, and sneezing may aggravate your symptoms.
Treatment options can include chiropractic care, acupuncture, physical therapy, and massage therapy. The chiropractor will diagnose your condition and determine what type of treatments and modalities are appropriate for you.