Thoracic Back Pain Ch4
Bones??  Nerves??

Thoracic Back Pain Related to the Bones

Your thoracic spine is in your mid to upper back. Each thoracic vertebra has two ribs attached to it. These ribs wrap around to the front and form your chest.

These ribs and the muscles of your upper back support and stabilize your thoracic spine, while still allowing a small amount of motion between each vertebra. 






Compression Fractures

Compression fractures are a common cause of thoracic back pain, especially in women over the age of 50 who are at risk for osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis itself is not painful but it does weaken the bones and make them more susceptible to a fracture.

Painful Fracture with Minor Trauma

When osteoporosis is severe fractures can occur with only minor activity such as stepping off of a curb or sneezing.

The pain of a compression fracture is severe and will begin with a sudden onset.

Pain can last for Several Weeks

These fractures will heal without treatment, but the pain may be severe for several weeks before it begins to subside.

Other treatment options include kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty which involves placing a special bone cement into the vertebra to stabilize the fracture.

Compression Fractures may occur in your thoracic or lumbar spine.

Image thanks to Bruce Blaus,
via Wikimedia Commons

Nearly Immediate Relief

Pain relief with these procedures is nearly immediate and allows a quicker return to full activity. You can learn more about compression fractures at Your Compression Fracture and Osteoporosis

Varicella Zoster or Shingles

If your thoracic back pain has a burning, tingling, or stinging kind of character you may have developed shingles. 

This type of pain can occur without any other symptoms. 10 days to 2 weeks after the pain begins you will develop a blistering rash. These symptoms will occur on just one side of your back and may wrap around to your flank and abdomen. 

72 hr Window for Best Outcome

If you think you may be developing shingles it is important that you get in to see your doctor as soon as possible. There are anti-viral medications that can be very helpful and they are the most effective when they are started within 72 hours of the onset of your symptoms. 

You can find out more about shingles at Shingles Pain must be Treated Immediately.

Thoracic Back Pain and What You Should do

Acute Pain?

If your pain is acute muscle pain, meaning that it just recently started, and especially if you just started a new job or other activities you are not accustomed to, limited activity and over the counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or tylenol are appropriate treatment. 

If your pain is more chronic, meaning that you have had it for a few months, and if it is muscle pain or myofascial in nature, you could begin a stretching program focused on stretching out the muscles where the pain seems to be. You could also start using self massage by lying on a tennis ball to work out any tender trigger points. 

When Your Pain is Severe

If your pain is more severe, or if it does not improve with conservative home treatments, you need to be seen by your doctor. He can order lab work and other studies to rule out more serious conditions that may be causing pain that you feel in your back. 

This will help him to develop an accurate diagnosis and get you started on an appropriate treatment plan. This is the quickest way to relieve your pain and avoiding more serious health problems.

Return to
Thoracic Back Pain is most 
Commonly Muscle Pain



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