Some of us may occasionally have discomfort in the upper back. The upper back is the 12 vertebrae with ribs attached to it that connect to the breastbone. This skeletal area is called the thoracic spine and it has less movement compared to the neck and lower back. The upper/mid back has less flexibility because it’s main purpose is to provide protection for the major organs of the body, like the heart and the liver.
Because of little motion and a great deal of stability throughout the upper back (thoracic spine), this section of the spine does not tend to develop common spinal disorders, such as a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, or spinal instability. These conditions can cause upper back pain but are exceedingly rare in the upper back.
What are some common causes of upper back pain? There seem to be two main groups of discomfort coming from this region. One general group is joint dysfunction. The other is classified as muscular irritation. In the case of joint dysfunction, this generally involves the state of the bone in the spinal column. The spine consists of many small bones and the soft tissues in between. Discomfort can result when these joints are misaligned and function is compromised.
The other common cause of discomfort in the upper back has to do with the soft tissues. The soft tissues/muscles hold the vertebrae together and maintain the flexibility of the spinal column. Pain can result from over exerting this area or from injury. Such examples include working at the computer for extended period of time or being in an auto accident.
Some of the typical treatments for upper back pain are stretches, exercises, massage therapy, and chiropractic treatment. Exercises include a lot of stretching to lengthen the contracted muscle and loosen the tight knots. Chiropractic manipulation may be used to help straighten the misaligned spine to provide better joint mobility and release stress.