Thoracic Back Pain
The back has many small bones, muscles, and soft tissues that surround and protect the spinal cord. Nerves also leave the spinal cord in the back. Pain may be caused by stress, strain, or injury to any of these structures, such as:
- Muscle strains
- Ligament sprains
- Gradual wear and tear of tissue
- Fractures of vertebra (spinal bones)
- Nerve compression—pressure on nerves that exit the spine may be caused by problems with muscles, bones, or disc between vertebra
- Herniated disc—damage to cushions that sit between the vertebra
- Imbalance of muscles that support the spine
Rarely, thoracic back pain may be caused by more serious problems like an infection in the spine, heart or lung problems, or cancer.
|Herniated Thoracic Disc|
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Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
- Activities or jobs that require sitting for long periods of time
- Repetitive motion
- Poor posture
- Lack of activity
These health problems may also raise the risk of this type of back pain:
- Osteoporosis, which raises the risk of fractures
- Spinal stenosis—narrowing of the spinal canal
- Degenerative diseases, such as osteoarthritis
- Past surgery or back injury
The symptoms a person has and how long they last depend on the cause. Problems may also be felt now and then or all the time.
Problems with muscle or soft tissue may cause:
- Sharp pain
- Throbbing or aching pain
- Weakness or fatigue
Nerve problems may cause:
- Tingling/numbing feelings
- Shooting pain
- Weakness in an area affected by a nerve
Any underlying causes will need to be treated. The goal of treatment is to ease symptoms to give the back time to heal. Treatments may include:
- Resting the back for 1 to 2 days
- Limiting activities that cause pain
- Medicine to ease pain, such as over the counter pain medicine and muscle relaxers
- Physical therapy to help with strength, flexibility, and range of motion
Most people are not helped by surgery.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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