Back Pain

Your ribs attach to a long, flat bone in the center of the chest called the sternum and wrap around your back attaching to your vertebrae. In between each vertebrae are discs that separate them and absorb shock as you move. In addition, muscles and ligaments hold the spine together.  Upper and middle back (thoracic) pain can occur anywhere from the base of your neck to the bottom of your rib cage. If a nerve in the sternum area is pinched, irritated, or injured, you may also feel pain in other places where the nerve travels, such as your arms, legs, chest, and belly. Low back (lumbar) pain, however, is located anywhere below the ribs and above the legs.

Thoracic pain is not as common as lumbar pain because the bones in this area of the back don't flex or move as much as the bones in your lower back. Instead, they work with the ribs to keep the back stable and help protect vital organs, such as the heart and lungs.

Causes of back pain includeoveruse, strain, or injury, pressure on the spinal nerves from problems such as herniated disc, arthritis, fractures in vertebrae, poor posture, and myofascial pain affecting a muscle's connective tissue.

Symptoms of Back Pain:
  • A dull, burning, or sharp pain
  • Muscle tightness or stiffness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Weakness in your arms or legs
  • Numbness or tingling in your arms, legs, chest, or stomach
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control

Treatments for Back Pain:

Tips for Managing Back Pain:

  • Get a good night's sleep
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Practice good posture
  • Wear a back brace during strenuous activities
  • Use assistive devices, if necessary
  • Wear shoes that are comfortable and low to the ground
  • Create an interdisciplinary pain team
  • Avoid activities which may cause pain or further injury
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