Thoracic back pain is discomfort in the middle and upper part of the back.
The back has many small bones, muscles, and soft tissues that surround and protect the spinal cord. Nerves also leave the spinal cord in the back. Pain may be caused by stress, strain, or injury to any of these structures, such as:
Gradual wear and tear of tissue
Fractures of vertebra (spinal bones)
Nerve compression—pressure on nerves that exit the spine may be caused by problems with muscles, bones, or disc between vertebra
Herniated disc—damage to cushions that sit between the vertebra
Imbalance of muscles that support the spine
Rarely, thoracic back pain may be caused by more serious problems like an infection in the spine, heart or lung problems, or cancer.
Evaluation of neck and back pain. The Merck Manual Professional Edition website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal_and_connective_tissue_disorders/neck_and_back_pain/evaluation_of_neck_and_back_pain.html. Updated August 2019. Accessed May 14, 2020.
Examination of the spine. Patient UK website. Available at: http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/examination-of-the-spine. Updated August 11, 2019. Accessed May 14, 2020.
Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ICSI). Diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis, ninth edition. ICSI 2017 Jul PDF.
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