Thoracic Back Pain

thoracic back pain diagramThe thoracic spine is commonly described as the middle back or chest region – located between the cervical spine (the neck) and the lumbar spine (the lower back region).

Thoracic spinal pain is less common than pain in the cervical and lumbar areas, this is largely due to its location in the spinal column – the thoracic vertebrae are generally larger than their cervical counterparts and are attached to the rib cage making this region more stable than the lumbar and cervical. The attachment of the rib cage and the protective ligament system also restrict the range of movement in this area of the spine making it less susceptible to movement induced injury.


There are a number of possible causes of thoracic back pain – these may include the following:

  • Injury/trauma

  • Soft tissue or muscular problems

  • Herniated disc

  • Degenerative spinal conditions (spondylosis)

    • Osteoporosis (following vertebral collapse)

    • Ankylosing spondylitis, osteoarthritis

  • Scheuermann's disease (often when present in young people)

  • Red flag for more serious underlying spinal pathology such as infection or cancer

Mechanical Thoracic Back Pain

Simple or mechanical thoracic back pain is pain felt in the back alone. It is important to treat this early and effectively and exclude sinister causes such as infection, spine instability and tumours. Bed rest and immobility are not recommended for more than 2 to 3 days. Continuation of a normal life style using regular over-the-counter painkillers, careful goal-targeted exercises and physiotherapy suffice for the majority.

Referred Thoracic Back Pain

Patients with thoracic back pain with referred symptoms may have prolapsed discs compressing nerves, inflammation in the joints between the bones of the vertebral bodies, (facet joints), arthritis or degeneration in the same bones with resulting nerve compression and referred pain. This nerve compression results in pain radiating around the chest wall, that is shooting pains to the sternum, stomach or groin and this is referred pain.


This will include a thorough medical examination with a detailed history – further investigative measures may be needed such as an MRI or SPECT-CT Scan.


Any treatment will very much depend on the results of any tests and the cause of the source of the pain. Treatment may include pain medication, physiotherapy amongst others.

How I can help

There is no need to suffer with debilitating thoracic back pain; help is at hand! If you are suffering with back pain and it will not go away despite the passage of time and using simple pain relieving medications, physiotherapy etc., then I can see you for a comprehensive evaluation of your problem.

Sometimes I alone cannot help you and I work closely with colleagues – surgeons, physiotherapists and psychologists which is important in such care – the multidisciplinary team.

Email or call us on 020 7060 5109 for an appointment. Leave a message if you get through to a voicemail and you will be called back.


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