Thoracic Pain

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Chiropractic Care In Fort Collins And Loveland

With some delicate structures, joints, bones, muscles, and nerves running through the upper back, it’s no wonder that this area is prone to pain and discomfort. One simple injury or strain can cause pain and problems in the rest of the back. Treating pain in your upper back, or thoracic spine, is surprisingly straightforward when you work with a capable team of chiropractors, massage specialists, and physical therapists.


Are You Experiencing The Symptoms Of Thoracic Pain?

  • Sudden pain in the upper back and ribs while moving.
  • Stiffness felt throughout the back and ribs.
  • Muscle spasms and feelings of pins and needles between the shoulder blades.
  • Sneezing, coughing, yawning, or breathing deeply may make the pain worse.
  • Pain, weakness, or numbness in the shoulders, arms, and hands.


We’re Here To Help

Thoracic spine pain refers to what the layperson thinks of as their back, the area between the shoulder blades. Thoracic spine pain is oftentimes musculoskeletal and compensatory, meaning that there are problems above or below the area of pain in the spine, causing referred pain to the mid-back. Other disease processes such as gallbladder pain and acid reflux can also cause symptoms in this area of the spine. An example is gallbladder pain, which often refers to the mid-back when the gallbladder is diseased. For this reason, a doctor of chiropractic is needed to differentiate between musculoskeletal vs. organ referral pain.


How Thoracic Spine Pain Begins

When you begin to experience pain in your upper back, it’s often due to an injury. Typically, it’s an irritated muscle or a dysfunction in the joints. In most cases, lifestyle choices are to blame for thoracic spine pain.

The increasingly sedentary lifestyles of most Americans means that their poor posture is cause for changes in the structure of their backs and necks. These muscles become weakened over time and can no longer support the head, and cannot keep the spine in a neutral alignment. A common cause of thoracic pain is improper lifting techniques, be it at work, home, or while exercising. Lifting heavy objects without properly aligning the spine can put too much stress on the upper back. Similarly, overusing the muscles in the upper back can lead to fatigue and injury. Finally, accidents or collisions can injure the upper back. Incidents like falls and crashes can injure spinal bones, discs, ligaments, nerves, and more.


Types Of Thoracic Spine Pain

Possible diagnoses, and conditions treated at Scott Family Health:

Costovertebral Joint Sprain

This form of thoracic spine injury occurs when the joints that connect your ribs to your upper vertebrae are damaged. The costovertebral joints support your body weight and allow you to bend, twist, and lift things with your back. These joints are made from smooth cartilage that lies in between the bony surfaces of the vertebrae, helping to prevent the rib bones from impacting the vertebrae. A costovertebral joint sprain occurs when you bend, twist, arch, or lift with your back too much, or improperly. In some cases, it can also be caused by an accident like a car collision, or from overuse by the repetition of a specific movement over and over. The excessive stretching or compressing forces damage the cartilage on the joints, causing a misalignment of the rib head, or causing a tear in the connective tissue around the joint.Treatment for a costovertebral joint sprain can include options like chiropractic work, physical therapy, acupuncture, and massage therapy.

Thoracic Disc Bulge

The twelve vertebrae that make up your thoracic spine are separated by a layer of connective tissue that wraps around each disc. In the middle of each disc is a jelly-like substance that flexes as you move. When you experience a tear in the connective tissue, this jelly-like substance protrudes from the disc, causing a thoracic disc bulge. A disc bulge can be caused by a number of things. In some cases, forceful or repetitive activities can lead to a disc bulge. This can include seemingly benign activities like bending over and slouching, or using your arms to lift something in front of your body. When paired with a twisting motion, these activities can cause tears in your tissues that lead to a disc bulge. You’ll typically notice the pain of a disc bulge in your mid-back around the shoulder blades.

Often times a labral tear will occur while participating in sports that require you to quickly change direction (football or hockey) or quickly twist your hips (golf). It can also be the result of wear and tear that happens over time. When a labrum tears, you might even hear it pop, or hear a continual clicking sound in your hip area when you move.


Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

TOS, or Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, is when the nerves and blood vessels that pass into the arms are compressed. Those with TOS have symptoms that include pain, tingling, and numbness or weakness in their arms, shoulders, and hands. Typically, these symptoms are exaggerated at night when the individual is lying down, compressing their arms.

There are three forms of TOS, each of which effect a different set of structures. Pectoralis minor syndrome is the compression of the nerves and vessels in your chest muscles. Costoclavicular syndrome is the compression of the nerves and vessels between the collar bone and the first rib. Scalene syndrome refers to the group of muscles in the neck called the scalene. In this case, the nerves and vessels are compressed as they pass from the neck to the shoulders.