Overview

The upper and middle back referred to as the thoracic spine makes up the largest portion of your back. There are twelve vertebrae that make up the thoracic spine, discs that separate each vertebra and absorb shock, as well as, muscles and ligaments that hold the thoracic spine together. Thoracic back pain is anywhere from the base of your neck to the bottom of your rib cage. If nerves in this area become irritated, pinched or injured pain may also be felt in other areas where the nerve travels. The thoracic spine provides stability to your back and protects organs and does not move or flex as much as the lower back or neck.  Therefore, thoracic back pain is not as common as lower back or neck pain.

Symptoms

The characteristics of pain vary from patient to patient. Thoracic back pain symptoms may be described as any of the following:

  • Dull, sharp, or burning pain
  • Sudden onset or slow progression
  • Constant or intermittent
  • General or localized

Thoracic back pain may also be accompanied by other symptoms such as:

  • Muscle tightness or stiffness
  • Weakness in arms or legs (seek medical attention)
  • Tingling in arms, legs, chest or abdomen (seek medical attention)
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control (seek medical attention)

Diagnosis/Tests

To diagnosis your pain, a thorough medical history and physical examination will be completed by a physician. Questions will be asked in regards to your general health, a description of your symptoms, and your work and physical activities. Imaging tests may be ordered such as an X-ray or Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Causes

Treatment

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Hot or cold compress
  • Physical therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Spinal Manipulation