The thoracic upper back or middle back is designed for stability to anchor the rib cage and protect the organs within the chest. Compared to the neck and lower back, the upper back is highly resistant to injury and pain. When thoracic upper back pain does present, it is usually brought on from long-term poor posture or an injury that overwhelms the sturdiness. It is less common than lower back and neck pain, but it does affect around 20% of the population and primarily women. It can occur for a variety of reasons, and chiropractic treatment can bring long-term relief.
Thoracic Upper Back Pain
The thoracic upper back is crucial for various functions related to:
- Neural tissue health
- Organ protection
- Arm function
- Breathing mechanics
- Trunk support
The delicate balance and function can create potential issues and imbalances, causing soreness, strain, and pain. Underlying causes for thoracic upper back pain include:
- Direct impact on the area.
- Injury from a fall, sports, or automobile accident.
- Unhealthy posturing/positions that place added strain on the spine, causing misalignment.
- Repetitive motions and overuse like pulling, pushing, reaching, and twisting.
- Repetitive/Improper shoulder mechanics can lead to muscle imbalance and poor movement.
- Poor core mechanics.
- Nerve dysfunction.
- Muscular irritation usually comes from unconditioned muscles and a lack of strength.
- The shoulder attaches large muscles to the shoulder blade and the back of the rib cage.
- These are large muscles and are prone to developing strains or tightness.
- Caused by a sudden injury.
- Natural spinal degeneration from aging.
- Facet joint cartilage and/or joint capsule tearing.
Chiropractic can realign the spine and body if experiencing any of the following:
- Symptoms that keep returning even with the use of medication.
- Home remedies do not bring adequate relief.
- Unable to prevent symptoms from presenting.
- Chronic pain.
Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic will develop a personalized/customized treatment plan specific to the individual’s needs. Treatment will include:
- Spinal adjustments to improve alignment and nerve integrity.
- Therapeutic massage.
- Posture training to increase spinal alignment.
- Exercise training to restore muscular balance.
- Health coaching.
- Anti-Inflammatory Diet.
Sitting For Prolonged Periods
Metabolism is linked with body composition, meaning that increased muscle increases metabolism helping to burn more calories.
- When sitting, the gluteal muscles, abdominal muscles, and legs become inactive.
- Sitting for extended periods day after day can cause these muscles to degenerate.
- Consistent muscle loss from the lower body can hurt the body’s functional strength and, with age, increase the risk of injury.
- Any muscle loss, especially from the lower body, and is the largest muscle group, can lead to consistent fat gain.
Circulation Slows Down
Sitting for too long also slows down blood flow to the brain and the legs, causing them to become sluggish.
- Sitting without standing can increase the risk of developing blood clots.
- Blood clots can break off and cause blockages throughout the body.
- One study showed a significant reduction in the vascular flow after sitting for just three hours.
- But individuals who took breaks and got up to walk around for two minutes every hour showed improved circulation.
Beddhu, Srinivasan et al. “Light-intensity physical activities and mortality in the United States general population and CKD subpopulation.” Clinical journal of the American Society of Nephrology: CJASN vol. 10,7 (2015): 1145-53. doi:10.2215/CJN.08410814
Briggs AM, Smith AJ, Straker LM, Bragge P. Thoracic spine pain in the general population: Prevalence, incidence and associated factors in children, adolescents and adults. A systematic review. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2009;10:77.
Fouquet N, Bodin J, Descatha A, et al. Prevalence of thoracic spine pain in a surveillance network. Occup Med (Lond). 2015;65(2):122-5.
McManus, Ali M et al. “Impact of prolonged sitting on vascular function in young girls.” Experimental physiology vol. 100,11 (2015): 1379-87. doi:10.1113/EP085355
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The information herein on "Thoracic Upper Back Pain" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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