• Dane Monaghan - Physio

Thoracic Back Pain

Thoracic spine Role The anatomy of the Thoracic spine has to cater to a few aspects of how we function.

The thoracic spine allows for the ribs to attach to them to ensure they can protect some of our vital organs however they are quite mobile joints to allow for common movements of the spine

For example, the joints of the thoracic spine allow quite a lot of movement between them to ensure that we can: 1. Rotate our torso easily

2. Allow enough movement to ensure our respiratory system can function effectively So you can imagine that our thoracic spine gets stiff and sore then the above functions become harder to complete.

Movement and breathing are clearly very essential functions of the human body so maintaining a healthy thoracic spine is crucial to ensuring our activities of daily living are easy to complete

Prevalence Thoracic spine pain is something that is very common and we see a lot of here at High Line Active. Because it is such a mobile range of joints, it can be prone to joint irritations or overloading.

People experience Thoracic spine pain quite regularly, as up to 72% of people will experience thoracic pain at some point in their lives (Briggs, et al 2009) - Slightly more common in females and adolescents

Common Symptoms and Causes Common symptoms - Pain located in a specific area of the thoracic spine - Difficulty rotating your upper body - Can have issues taking a deep breathe

- Muscle tightness around the affected area - Can have pain refer around into the chest (more rib affected but common)

Common Causes - Prolonged poor postures

  • i.e. sitting at a computer for hours places a lot of load through our thoracic spine

- Repetitive movements, usually rotation but not limited to

  • I.e. Thoracic pain is very common in rowers

- Overloading of the muscles or joints of our upper back - Weakness in muscles surrounding the thoracic spine - Lack of Range of motion through our thoracic spine

- Trauma to the Thoracic spine

Physiotherapy’s role in treating Thoracic pain Just like looking after a car, sometimes you need regular maintenance. As stated previously, these joints are so mobile and have to withstand a lot of loads. The starting role of our physios is to identify any signs of joint stiffness or movement restriction through your thoracic spine and if symptomatic, find what may be causing this thoracic pain. Once identified, we use a range of manual therapy techniques to help treat the issue. Techniques such as - Massage - Trigger pointing - Joint Mobilisations

- Joint Manipulations - Exercise Prescription


Thoracic pain and stiffness is a very common presentation that we see here at High Line Active. We look after things we own like a car or house, so let's do the same to our bodies!

Book to see Nicole or Dane to hear more

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