Thoracic spine pain occurs in the thoracic spine. This area of the spine contains 12 bones and is located at the back of the chest (thorax) and sits between the shoulder blades. The thoracic spine extends from the bottom of the neck to the start of the lumbar spine.
Anyone can develop thoracic spine pain but it’s common in children and teenagers and is often associated with carrying heavy backpacks and sitting in a slouched position.
Thoracic spine pain causes discomfort and stiffness in the neck and spine, but with treatment symptoms usually improve over several weeks.
Our renowned medical team provides a range of treatments, from the traditional to the innovative:
This is an effective and well-researched procedure that’s a potential alternative to surgery. It takes advantage of the blood’s natural healing properties to reduce pain and improve joint function. It uses a specially concentrated dosage of platelets prepared from your own blood to repair damaged cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscle and bone. Depending on the root of the back pain, PRP can be injected into the discs (intradiscal), facet joints and paraspinal muscle. Patients usually see their symptoms improve within six weeks of having the injections. Read more clinical evidence supporting PRP here.
In a recent study, 91% of patients with chronic low back pain reported a significant reduction in pain, six months after PRGF treatment. This treatment involves applying plasma rich in growth factors (PRGF- Endoret) using intradiscal injections to repair tissue in the low back.
Also called facet or nerve root blocks, they are recommended if you’ve not had much success with the first-step approaches of painkillers, rest, stretching and physiotherapy.
You’ll be given a mild sedative and be asked to lie face down. Using fluoroscopic (X-ray) for guidance, the doctor will find the best path for the thin needle. They will then insert the needle into the centre of each disc that needs treating.
It’s a quick procedure and you’ll up and moving around 30 – 40 minutes after the procedure and back to full mobility after one week.
Inflammation of the muscles or tissues is the most common cause of thoracic spine pain. The muscles and tissues can become inflamed through:
• Injury – sprain or strain
• Sitting or standing in a slouched position for a long time
• Carrying heavy bags, such as a backpack
• Sitting for a long time, particularly those who work with a computer
• Overuse – persistent movement of the thoracic part of the spine, either through work or playing a sport
Less common causes of thoracic spine pain include:
• Slipped discs
• Fractures of the spinal bones (vertebrae)
• Narrowing of the part of the spine (thoracic stenosis)
• Inflammation of the joints between the vertebrae (spondylitis)
• Arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis
Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more of your joints. People typically tend to suffer from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is more common and is caused by the cartilage wearing away.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that causes the joint lining to swell and leads to pain and stiffness in the joint.
Thoracic spine pain causes discomfort in the thoracic area, you may also experience:
• Limited movement
• Nerve pain sensations like numbness, tingling, or a burning feeling
• Muscle spasms
• Weakness in the muscle strength
• Pain and discomfort in the shoulder, neck, ribs, arms, fingers and legs
You may also notice that thoracic spine pain causes you to stoop or slouch.
If you are experiencing upper back pain, a doctor will examine you applying pressure to different areas to see where it hurts. In some cases, the doctor may refer you to have an:
• Spinal X-ray – to see if there any other bone problems which could be causing the pain
• MRI – using a magnetic field and radio waves a detailed image of the affected is created which can reveal subtle changes in the soft tissue and bones
• CT scans – which uses radiation to create detailed images of the body
Treatment for thoracic spine pain aims to relieve symptoms and improve the function of the neck and spine.
Initial treatment may include medications such as analgesics which help reduce the pain, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – NSAIDS – which reduce the pain and inflammation and steroid injections which reduce inflammation and provide short-term relief.
Your doctor may recommend applying ice packs to the area for a few days and then switching to heat packs for another couple of days. If you do this, it’s important to place a cloth between the ice and your skin to prevent you getting an ice-burn.
Our expert team specialises in treating degenerative disc disease using advanced non-surgical techniques including stem cell therapy, AMPP® Activated Mesenchymal Pericyte Plasma (using Lipogems® technology) and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy.
Surgery is rarely recommended for thoracic spine pain, but if your symptoms don’t improve using non-surgical options, surgery may be recommended.
In the most severe cases, a surgeon may perform a laminectomy which involves opening the covering of the spinal canal to operate on a slipped disc.
Our experienced consultants will undertake a thorough examination exploring non-surgical and surgical treatments. They’ll also discuss your suitability for our state-of-the-art biological therapies.
Your consultation will be with one of our spine specialists, Mr. Shahid Khan, Prof. Arun Ranganathan or Dr. Stefano Palmisini and will last approximately 30 minutes. On the day, or the day before you will be asked to attend for an MRI scan.
As well as undertaking an examination, our specialists will take details of your medical history and discuss your symptoms. They will also detail all your treatment options and cover their potential benefits and risks.
Our expert team comprises of highly experienced surgeons, sports medicine doctors and physiotherapists who are committed to delivering a high level of care and the correct treatment option so you can quickly get back to moving around.
The first step is to book a consultation for a thorough assessment. Click here to make an appointment.
Autologous translates as ‘from the same person.’ In brief, it involves using your own cells to encourage healing. The major benefits are that there is no chance of rejection, infection or contamination as you are using cells from your own body rather than a donor.
We offer a range of therapies based on this principle which can be considered if traditional treatments including surgery aren’t relieving your pain.
Biological treatments are pioneering procedures and we’re continuously monitoring and recording its effectiveness. Patients undertaking these treatments are asked to complete pre-operative and post-operative questionnaires.
The information obtained from these questionnaires allows us to monitor your progress and it also contributes to our evidence-based database and other global studies on biological treatments. All information gathered is anonymised.
Intradiscal and intra-articular facet infiltrations with ‘Endoret’ plasma rich in growth factors reduce pain in patients with chronic low back pain. Read full paper.