The thoracic spine is located at the back of the chest (the thorax), mostly between the shoulder blades. It extends from the bottom of the neck to the start of the lumbar spine, roughly at the level of the waist. Thoracic spine pain is usually the result of poor posture, muscle overuse, or injury. Treatment may include home remedies, such as rest and gentle exercises, or possibly seeing a myotherapist.
- Muscular problems. Upper back pain is most commonly caused by muscle irritation or tension, also called myofascial pain. The cause may be poor posture (i.e. Upper Crossed Syndrome) or any type of irritation of the large back and shoulder muscles, including muscle strain or spasms.
- Joint dysfunction. Thoracic spinal joints can become painful in various ways. For example, cartilage tears and degeneration can develop in the facet joints where adjacent thoracic vertebrae articulate with each other. It is also possible for a rib to become misaligned or displaced from the vertebrae. In many cases, facet joint degeneration (osteoarthritis) and degenerative disc disease can happen at the same time.
Most cases of back pain appear because of lifestyle issues, such as weak or overused muscles from repetitive behaviours. In these cases, lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and stretching, may help relieve pain.
- Take regular breaks from sitting or lying down to stretch and move different muscle groups.
- Take frequent breaks when working at a desk to stretch, so the muscles stay loose and strong.
- Take a few minutes to stretch the muscles or warm up the body before any activities.
- People who lift heavy objects should avoid twisting or lifting with their back.
- Have regular massages to help work out the tension of the muscles.
- Work with a myotherapist to strengthen weak muscles and keep pressure off the joints.
- Avoid wearing heavy backpacks or purses.
- Be conscious of posture at all times, walking upright and sitting correctly, using back supports if necessary.