Thoracic pain

The thoracic spine is the middle part of the back where ribs are attached. It starts where the neck meets the body and ends about a hands width above your waist. Thoracic pain is sharp and catching especially when taking deep breaths. The pain may be felt in the chest and abdomen mimicking angina or other heart related conditions and give rise to incorrect diagnosis and treatment.

Thoracic Pain Causes

The cause is usually muscle strain and stiffness of the spinal joints, the so called facet joints, between the shoulder blades due to prolonged sitting in front of a computer with a slouched posture, using a heavy back pack or trauma during a car accident or fall. As the ribs are joined onto the vertebrae, stiffness in that area can lead to pain between the ribs especially on breathing. Assessment is aimed at ruling out involvement of any serious medical conditions.

Thoracic Pain Treatment

Treatment usually consists of mobilisations or manipulations of the spine, muscle relaxation techniques and posture correction exercises/postural re-training. As for chest pain, treating the upper back by mobilising the stiff facet joints between the vertebrae often also takes the strain off the front via the ribs. So treating the back of the body takes the strain off the front of the body. Later when the pain is resolved it is essential to correct posture and strengthen the muscles that help sustain upright posture with a view to stop the problem recurring.

It can be useful to ask your employer for a work station risk assessment if you suspect that the problem is related to your set up at work. We specialise in DSE (display screen equipment = computers) . To see more about our work station risk assessments click here.

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