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Pain in the thoracic spine is a condition that more and more often affects young people and for which we work for many years. The troublesome changes in the thoracic spine are favored by incorrect body posture, slouching while working at the desk, and low physical activity. What else are the causes and symptoms of thoracic spine problems? What is the treatment of back pain in the thoracic region?

Thoracic spine painhappens to both young and old. The thoracic spine consists of 12 vertebrae to which the ribs are attached. The thoracic vertebrae are located between the cervical and lumbar vertebrae. Each vertebra consists of two parts, a cylindrical body in front of it and a vertebral arch behind it.

There is a circular vertebral opening between the shaft and the arch. When all vertebrae are connected, the space that arises from the connected vertebral openings forms the spinal canal. In this channel there is a spinal cord surrounded by three protective layers (meninges). The thoracic spine supports the entire chest and keeps it stable. Compared to other parts of the spine, the thoracic section is the least mobile.

Pain in the thoracic spine - causes

Napain in the thoracic spinethe most frequent complaints are two age groups: young people in the period of intensive growth and elderly people.

Rapid growth, sometimes even by 10-15 cm a year, with limited physical activity, leads to excessive workload on the back muscles, weakened by stretching resulting from rapid growth. The situation is worsened by Scheuerman's disease (sterile necrosis of the spine), often observed in adolescents, leading to kyphotic deepening (kyphosis is an arcuate curve of the spine towards the dorsal side - the so-called round back) of the thoracic spine bend.

In the elderly, the cause of pain may be the progressive degeneration of intervertebral discs, which leads to deepening of thoracic kyphosis, weakening of dynamic syndromes, i.e. the muscular corset. In seniors, the situation is aggravated by osteoporotic changes, which in themselves can be a source of pain, especially whenwhen there is a compression fracture of one or more vertebral bodies.

But the degeneration of the spine itself - the progressive degenerative process with the formation of bone growths on the edges of the shafts may lead to distortion of the already narrowed (by lowering the disc height of the intervertebral holes) to the appearance of root pain. In such a situation, apart from local pains, girdling pains (along the course of the intercostal nerves) and pains in the front part of the chest or sternum are also possible. The latter should be well diagnosed as they may result from coronary insufficiency.

Overload and pain in the thoracic spine are also related to a sedentary lifestyle, poorly fitted furniture, and incorrect setting of the monitor screen and keyboard. The factor that may cause back pain in this episode is low physical activity, overweight, and in women a significant breast size.

Backaches in children and teenagers are often associated with carrying a backpack that is too heavy. This is a huge pain for parents, but most of all for children. Unfortunately, there are still no lockers in schools where books can be left. In children and adolescents, spine pain is also caused by intensive sports that weigh on the spine.

Another cause of back pain in the thoracic spine may be heavy physical work.

Back pain may also appear after injuries. It is worth knowing that it often occurs not immediately after the injury, but after a few weeks or even months.

Pain in the thoracic spine - symptoms

Pain in the thoracic spine is always troublesome. It can cause unpleasant or even very disturbing symptoms. Some of them are surprising and difficult to relate to the spine itself and are taken as cardiac, neurological, and even psychosomatic symptoms.

Symptoms that suggest heart problems include pain, burning and prickling in the heart area, shortness of breath, and pain in the left arm. If you experience such symptoms, it is better to consult a doctor, but you should remain calm and be aware that they may come from the spine.

Numbness and pain in the arms or legs can also be caused by lesions in the thoracic spine. As a result of pressure on the chest, it is also possible to experience shortness of breath, which can even lead to hyperventilation, which is often mistaken for an emotional disorder.

A person suffering from such ailments may suffer from hypoxia and be emotionally overactive. If these symptoms are accompanied by back pain, it is worth making sure that it is nottheir cause. Pain in the thoracic spine can also spread to the cervical and lumbar spine, radiate to the arms, legs or between the shoulder blades.

Pain in the thoracic spine - treatment

In very severe pains, the first action is usually the use of ointments and painkillers. It is symptomatic, temporary and usually ineffective because the pain returns. More benefits are offered by a visit to a physiotherapist who will select the appropriate set of exercises. Physiotherapy has many options that are effective in treating back pain. They are:

  • kinesiotherapy - activities related to movement
  • kinesiotaping - sticking special tapes (tapes) that maintain proper muscle tone
  • laser therapy
  • therapeutic baths - in mud or brines
  • magnetotherapy
  • electrotherapy
  • cryotherapy

In extreme cases of pain in the thoracic spine, especially when it makes it impossible to perform daily activities, surgical treatment is used.

Pain in the thoracic spine - exercises

Exercises to strengthen the muscles of the spine should be performed by every person who spends a significant part of the day in a sitting position or for some other reason puts excessive strain on the back. Regular exercise can help prevent back pain. In addition, they help maintain the correct body posture, which will translate into a reduction or complete relief of pain.

Suitable exercises for pain in the thoracic spine are stretching and strengthening the back muscles - not only in the thoracic but also in the lumbar region.

It may be helpful to perform the classic "cat's back", bends and alternating hand extensions while on a supported knee. In addition to performing appropriate exercises, people suffering from pain in the thoracic spine should take care of regular physical activity. Swimming and walking are beneficial for the back.

About the authorAnna Jarosz A journalist who has been involved in popularizing he alth education for over 40 years. Winner of many competitions for journalists dealing with medicine and he alth. She received, among others The "Golden OTIS" Trust Award in the "Media and He alth" category, St. Kamil awarded on the occasion of the World Day of the Sick, twice the "Crystal Pen" in the national competition for journalists promoting he alth, and many awards and distinctions in competitions for the "Medical Journalist of the Year" organized by the Polish Association of Journalists for He alth.

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