It’s pretty hard to argue that back pain is one of the most debilitating chronic injuries you can experience. If you or someone you know has dealt with chronic back pain, you already know exactly what we’re talking about.
Common causes include sports injuries and poor posture, but that makes it sound pretty mild. In reality, it can mean sleepless nights, poor mobility, stress and anxiety, and more. Over time, the pain can keep us from doing what we love.
But it doesn’t have to last forever.
Today, we’re talking about thoracic spine pain. We’ll cover symptoms as well as treatment options, but mostly we want you to know that you’re not alone and you have options.
First, let’s give you a quick refresher on human anatomy.
What is the ‘Thoracic Spine’?
If you run your hand down the center of your back (borrow a friend if you can’t reach!), you’ll feel some of the bumps making up the 33 vertebrae of the spinal column. However, there are three main sections that make up your spinal column: the lumbar, cervical, and thoracic spine.
The lower back is your lumbar spine, while the upper section where your neck sits is the cervical spine. Herniated discs and degenerative disc disease are common in the lower back, but can also cause upper back issues as well.
Finally, the section between them is the thoracic spine. There are also sacrum and coccyx vertebrae, but the big three are where the majority of injuries occur. Those three sections have very important jobs. First, they help protect the spinal cord and nerve roots. Second, they provide structural support and balance to promote a healthy, upright posture. Third, they help you stay flexible.
The thoracic spine, however, serves an additional function. Each thoracic vertebrae attaches to your ribs and forms your ribcage. While you might not give your ribcage much thought on a daily basis, it’s actually the main structure that protects your vital organs. So, your thoracic spine is VERY important to your overall health and wellness.
Common Thoracic Back Pain Symptoms
Many back pain symptoms are similar across the three regions and include:
- Stiffness and soreness
- Sharp pain or muscle spasms
- Reduced range of motion when bending or twisting
- Weakness and instability
- Poor posture (slouching)
Middle back pain in the thoracic region isn’t very different. Just remember you may also feel pain in the ribs due to their connection with thoracic vertebrae. In addition, there are specific causes of thoracic pain you should know about. Understanding these causes will help you avoid strain and injury to that section of your back.
Common Causes of Thoracic Spine Pain
A systematic review of studies on thoracic pain suggests there’s a “relatively high prevalence of [thoracic spine pain] in the general population”. So, if you’re experiencing this pain, you’re definitely not alone.
Obvious sources of middle back pain include compression fractures caused by hard falls. However, something as simple as lifting or twisting while carrying too much weight can also lead to chronic back pain. Even if you’ve never experienced either of these, there are several factors that can increase your risk.
The first is obesity. Carrying around additional body weight puts a greater strain on the muscles, soft tissues, and bones of your thoracic spine. The second risk factor is age. As we get older, our risk for back pain increases due to degenerating spinal nerves. Those over age 35 are at the highest risk. Lastly, inflammation. Whether it’s caused by inflammatory foods, osteoarthritis, or sustaining an injury, inflammation doesn’t spare our spine.
There are also specific spine conditions that cause pain:
- Thoracic facet syndrome is also known as thoracic osteoarthritis. Much like traditional arthritis, thoracic facet syndrome is a degenerative disease characterized by deterioration of facet joints. These are the joints in your spinal column that allow for bending and a full, fluid range of motion.
- Thoracic spinal stenosis is characterized by a narrowing of the spinal canal or nerve root. It’s another degenerative disease, so age is a factor. In contrast to neck pain felt with cervical spinal stenosis, thoracic spinal stenosis often results in rib pain as you try to twist from side to side.
Any of these issues will put a damper on your dance moves, but don’t lose hope. Now that you know what might be causing your thoracic pain, let’s talk about your options!
How to Treat Thoracic Spine Pain
When dealing with back pain and spinal injuries, you want to choose your treatment carefully and work closely with your doctor to avoid further damage. For this reason, comprehensive treatment often includes a trip to a physical therapist to help build up your strength while increasing or maintaining your range of motion.
While many people focus on the physical symptoms of these types of injuries, the mental strain is also very real. Being able to work side-by-side with a licensed physical therapist is a great way to build strength in a safe, well-monitored environment. That way, if anything feels off (or even if you’re just anxious) you’re already surrounded by medical professionals who know how to help.
In some extreme cases, your condition may require surgery. A doctor could also prescribe pain medication or anti-inflammatory meds to help overcome pain during recovery. The issue here is that these medications are often habit-forming and can damage your kidneys and liver with extended use. However, to avoid prescription pain medications, many are turning to natural pain-relieving treatments.
Treat Thoracic Pain Naturally
Here are a few steps you can take today to begin relieving middle back pain.
- Change your diet to speed up weight loss and decrease inflammation.
- Take an anti-inflammatory supplement like green-lipped mussel oil to decrease inflammation in your spine naturally and safely.
- Use heat treatment or cold therapy depending on whether you’re experiencing tightness or inflammation.
- Sit upright with your spine aligned to avoid poor posture.
These may seem overly simplistic, but trust us when we say they make a big difference. Also, remember that it’s always best to seek medical attention from your healthcare provider in conjunction with home remedies for back pain.
Experience Back Pain Relief TODAY
Many of us have a bad habit of ignoring pain until it can’t be ignored anymore. Well, we’re here to tell you that you deserve to live pain-free. You’ve got a lot going on, and you need all your energy and focus to keep moving forward. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t hesitate to start taking better care of yourself. Become a warrior for your health and fight for pain-free living today.
Do you have questions about middle back pain or natural anti-inflammatory treatments like GLX3? Leave a comment below and we’d be happy to help!
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