Thoracic or mid-back pain is most likely as common as cervical or lumbar pain but less often reported due to its mild pain presentation.
Where the neck is made for movement and the low back is made for power and flexibility the mid-back (thoracic spine) is made for stability. With the rib cage attached to all levels of the thoracic spine (ribs 1-10 being attached to the sternum and ribs 11-12 floating or not attached to the sternum) this severely limits the motion of the thoracic spine. This limit in motion makes disc herniations and nerve root compression in the thoracic spine less common
There are two types of thoracic pain. Mechanical thoracic pain is caused by injury, trauma or overuse. Non-mechanical thoracic pain is due to underlying pathology or disease.
Causes of mechanical thoracic pain are:
- compression fracture
- postural syndrome
Causes of non-mechanical thoracic pain are:
- osteoid osteoma
- Scheuermann’s Disease
- T4 Syndrome
- herpes zoster
- referred pain from viscera
What to expect at your appointment for a complaint of thoracic pain:
You should expect to provide a full medical history to your healthcare provider. An event or physical complaint that you think is entirely unrelated to your thoracic pain may provide essential information needed to make a correct diagnosis.
Your doctor will perform a full physical exam, including sensation and strength testing. Your doctor may order X-rays, CT or an MRI to confirm the diagnosis. If non-mechanical thoracic pain is suspected, blood work will be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.
When to seek immediate care for thoracic pain:
Thoracic pain can be referral pain from the viscera i.e. cancer so please seek immediate professional help if you experience thoracic pain with any of the following symptoms.
- History of cancer
- Unexplained weight loss
- Lower limb spasticity
- Progressive pain, worse at night
What can a Chiropractor do for thoracic pain:
- Mid-back exercises and stretches
- Ergonomic training
- Electrical stimulation/TENS treatment
- Acupuncture (if certified in acupuncture)
- Supervised medical massage
Thoracic pain can have a multitude of causes and should always be checked by a qualified professional such as a chiropractor or medical doctor.
If you’re experiencing mid-back pain, schedule an appointment to be evaluated at Advanced Wellness Solutions.