Often called thoracic pain or middle back pain, people experience upper back pain between the top of their lumbar spine and the base of their neck. A person’s upper spine is very stable and strong because it has to support their upper body weight. It also anchors the rib cage stably and firmly, thus providing a protective cavity for the lungs and heart to function. Attached to the thoracic or upper back are the ribs. Although lower back pain or cervical neck pain are more common spinal disorders than upper back pain, it can cause a lot of anguish and discomfort when it does happen.
The upper back, also called the thoracic spine, is stable and strong, protecting your vital internal chest organs and allowing you to stand upright. The upper back section of the spinal column has limited movement but a great amount of stability so there is normally very little chance of degeneration or injury to the upper back over time. On the other hand, the neck and lower back provides a person with their mobility, so the lumbar spine and cervical spine are far more likely to be injured. They can also develop common spinal disorders such as, degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, spinal instability, or spinal stenosis.
As the result of sudden injury, muscular irritation, strain, joint dysfunction, trauma, or prolonged poor posture, upper back pain can result. Upper back pain often occurs with shoulder pain and/or neck pain. Upper back pain has become a familiar complaint from computer operators who spend a large majority of their day sitting at a computer.
Muscular irritation is a common cause of upper back pain due to repetitive motion, overuse injuries and lack of strength, also called de-conditioning. Large muscles attach the shoulder girdle to the shoulder blades and thoracic rib cage back. These large muscles in the upper back can develop muscular irritation that causes upper back pain. This pain from muscular irritation often results from auto accidents, sports injuries, muscle strains, or other injuries.
More than sixty percent of Americans will suffer from lower or upper back pain and back injuries at some point during their lives and approximately half will of those will experience it numerous times. Lower and upper back pain problems can be very debilitating because they often prevent people from enjoying activities they love, such as playing with their children or grandchildren, going out golfing, jogging, bending over to smell the flowers, or worse. People should be aware that most lower and upper back pain injuries occur over the course of many years and rarely as the result of a single accident or activity.