Upper and mid back pain:
The upper and mid back is referred to as the Thoracic spine. It is comprised of 12 thoracic vertebrae. Attached to those vertebrae are ribs on either side which extend round to the front of the chest where they attach to cartilage and in turn to the sternum (breast bone). Attaching internally to the lower thoracic vertebrae and ribs is the diaphragm, a very large muscle which is the primary muscle for respiration. Together they form the thoracic cavity. The thoracic cavity protects our vital organs which are the heart and lungs as well as major blood vessels. Overlying the thoracic spine are a multitude of muscles.
More often than not, pain in the thoracic spine is muscular or associated with a dysfunction in the movement of the vertebrae or ribs. Lots of people hold tension in their upper backs either due to stress or how how sit and this can sometimes cause significant muscular tightness which in turn can lead to pain in the upper thoracic spine but can also extend up into the neck or down an arm.
More often than not, if the pain appears to be musculoskeletal in nature the pain it will be aggravated with sitting long periods or with poor posture and can be exacerbated with spinal movements. A problem with the function of a shoulder due to the shared anatomy can also lead to pain in this region and a problem in the neck can also refer into the thoracic spine.
A thorough questionning and examination is necessary if you have symptoms in your Thoracic spine as sometimes there may be a more sinister underlying problem, perhaps with an underlying organ. Even the gallbladder which sits below the diaphragm can refer pain into the right shoulder blade/shoulder.
If primarily muscular in nature the pain may worsen as the days goes on. Pain that is sharp in nature may be due to a strain to the facet joints between the thoracic vertebrae or to the costo-vertebral joints where the ribs meet the spine and this will tend to be aggravated with particular movements of the spine/ribs. Pain from the latter is often experienced on deep inhalation or exhalation and can also cause pain in the chest. Obviously chest pain can have more sinister causes such as problems with the heart or lungs and should be reported to your general practitioner.
If you have symptoms in your upper or mid back that you would like to be assessed and treated then please book an appointment by clicking on the link below or at the top of the page.