What Is Thoracic Pain?Thoracic pain, also known as middle back pain or upper back pain, is much less common than lower back pain or neck pain. If you suffer from thoracic back pain, you’re likely looking for relief. We can help. This article discusses the most common thoracic pain causes, symptoms, risk factors, and treatments for finding relief.
Frequently thoracic back pain has a benign musculoskeletal origin, but may indicate a more serious underlying problem. The word thoracic means “pertaining to the chest” hence the thoracic spine forms the back of the chest wall. With markedly less mobility than the cervical spine above and lumbar spine below, the thoracic spine’s main function is to provide protection for the vital organs in the chest, such as the heart and lungs, as well as allow stability for standing upright.
Even though the majority of thoracic spine pain is harmless, when the following symptoms are present you should consider seeking medical attention:
- History of a recent infection
- Temperature over 100° F
- IV drug use, which increases risk of an infectious cause
- Unexplained weight loss, which may be associated with cancer
When the following symptoms are present with thoracic back pain, you should seek emergency care:
- Weakness or paralysis
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Prior history of cancer
- Recent significant trauma such as a fall from a height or motor vehicle accident
How many people suffer from thoracic spine pain?
Back pain, itself, is a very pervasive condition. It’s expected that almost everybody in the U.S. — close to 80-90% of people — will experience back pain at some time in their life. Finding out how many people suffer from thoracic, or thorax pain, can be difficult. This is because there are different definitions of what thoracic pain is for different patients.
According to a review quoted by Patient.Info, however, up to 20% of people may suffer from this type of pain in their lifetime.