Upper Back Pain

Written by Norene Anderson
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Upper back pain is not as common as lower back pain, but it can be just as intense. An injury to a disc in the upper back happens, but not very often. The thoracic spine, also known as the upper or middle back, is different in purpose from the neck and lower back. The latter two are for mobility but the thoracic region is more for stability. There is less movement and that makes it less likely to sustain injury.

The thoracic spine is made up of 12 vertebrae. Each one is attached to a rib on both sides. The structure of the ribs provides protection for the heart, liver, and lungs. It also allows room for expansion of the lungs during breathing. Between the bottom thoracic vertebra and the top lumbar vertebra is where twisting movement begins.

Reasons for Upper Back Pain

There are two causes of upper back pain that constitute the majority of complaints. One of these is muscular irritation. The large upper back muscles are susceptible to developing myofascial pain. This can result from strains, automobile accidents, sports injuries, or other types of injuries.

The other common type of pain found in the upper back is from joint dysfunction. This occurs when the joints connecting the ribs to the spine are not in correct alignment. This can happen when the muscles surrounding the spine become weak. This can set the stage for a herniated disc. A herniated disc in the upper back, however, occurs in only about 1 percent of all herniations. Most are in the lower back where there is more movement.


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