Mid Back Pain: The Thoracic Spine
Mid back pain is a common complaint at Connor Chiropractic. A large number of patients present to the clinic with symptoms involving the mid back, their thoracic spine. The Thoracic Spine consists of 12 vertebrae and runs from the base of the neck to the low back. The ribcage articulates to the thoracic spine and can also contribute to mid back pain.
Pain in the thoracic spine can be brought on by a number of things including acute injuries but also prolonged sitting and lack of range of motion exercises. As a population we have the propensity to sit in a flexed position (leaning forward or hunching) through the thoracic spine. This forward bending posture puts gentle pressure on the mid back and can cause the joints to become irritated and start producing pain or discomfort.
Like all joints in our body, the thoracic spine is made to move! It likes movement and not being in a static position. Joint health is dependent on moving through its full range of motion throughout the day. Issues tend to become apparent when the mid back’s range of motion is under-utilized.
When patients present with thoracic spine dysfunction there are a few things that can be done to help alleviate the symptoms. Firstly, after a thorough exam of the area, spinal adjustments targeted to the areas of the spine that are not moving well can help alleviate the immediate symptoms. After adjustments, activity modification plays a large role in preventing recurrences in the future.
When it comes to movement plans for thoracic spine injuries caused by prolonged sitting, there are a few movements that can be extremely helpful. Movements that can provide relief to the thoracic spine can all be done seated at your desk.
- Thoracic Extension: Place your hands behind your head, exhale and lean back. If your chair back is high then you may need to move forward on your chair. Go through 10-12 extensions.
- Thoracic Rotation: Placing your hands behind your head. Plant your feet and keep your hips in your chair. Exhale and turn towards the right holding there for 2 seconds. Repeat to the left. Repeat 4-5 times each way.
- Thoracic Lateral Flexion: With your feet planted reach your right arm up to the sky, exhale and lean to the left. Hold for 3 seconds. Come back to neutral and repeat on the other side. Repeat 4-5 times each way.
Thoracic range of motion, is like any range of motion in the body. The more you use it, the better it gets. By taking the time each day to move through your full ranges of motion you protect your joints and help decrease your risk of mid back pain.