Some of us may occasionally have discomfort in the upper back. The spine is made up of 24 vertebrae and the thoracic spine (upper back) is 12 of these bones. The thoracic spine is not as flexible as the cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (lower back). Because this section of the spinal column has a great deal of stability and only limited movement, there is generally little risk of injury or degeneration in the upper back.
Because of little motion in the thoracic spine, this section of the spine does not tend to develop common spinal disorders, such as a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, or spinal instability. These conditions can occur but are exceedingly rare in the thoracic spine.
What are causes of upper back pain? There seem to be two main groups of discomfort coming from this region. One general group is joint dysfunction. The other is classified as soft tissue irritation. In the case of joint dysfunction, this generally involves state of the bone in the spinal column. The spine consists of many small bones and the soft tissues in between. Discomfort can result when these joints are misaligned and cannot function properly.
The other common cause of discomfort in the upper back has to do with the soft tissues. The soft tissues hold the vertebrae together and maintain the flexibility of the spinal column. Pain can result from over exerting this area or from injury. Such examples include working at the computer for extended period of time or being in an auto accident. There are a few cases which are less common in the upper back. Conditions such as fractures, arthritis, herniated disc, and osteoporosis can be more severe situations.
Some of the typical treatments for upper back pain are stretches, exercises, massage therapy, and chiropractic treatment. Exercises include a lot of stretching to lengthen the contracted muscle and loosen the tight knots. Chiropractic manipulation may be used to help straighten the misaligned spine to provide better joint mobility and release stress.