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Upper back pain
Additional recommended knowledge
Anatomy of the upper back
The word “thoracic” means pertaining to the chest, and the thoracic spine comprises the upper portion of the spine that corresponds to the chest area. The upper spine includes twelve vertebrae, and each of the upper nine vertebrae in this section attach to the a rib on either side of the spine. Each of the ribs then curves around the side of the body and attaches to the breastbone in front. This forms a sturdy structure (the throracic cage) that supports and protects the internal organs - the heart, lungs and liver.
Causes and solutions
The most common cause of upper back pain is believed to originate from muscular irritation or other soft tissue (e.g. ligament) problems. These can arise from lack of strength, poor posture, overuse injuries (such as repetitive motion), or a trauma (such as a car accident or sports injury). Muscular strain in the upper back is usually treated by one or a combination of the following:
If there is a specific tender spot, then trigger point massage or injections can be helpful.
Another cause of upper back pain is problems with the joints that connect the vertebrae and the ribs. Treatment for joint problems such as this usually includes:
A compression fracture of the vertebra can also cause acute and/or chronic pain in the upper back. Especially for women over age 50 with complaints of upper back pain, a vertebral compression fracture due to osteoporosis should always be considered a possibility. A painful vertebral compression fracture may be treated with pain medication and rest, or with vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty surgery.
Other, less common causes of upper back pain include a spinal disc herniation, degenerative disc disease, or some type of trauma (such as a fall) that may have fractured a vertebra in the thoracic spine.
- Different Exams and Tests
- Non-Surgical Treatment Options
- Surgical Treatment Options