When most people think about back pain, they think of the lower back. The lower back and hips are indeed the most common places where back pain occurs. However, one of the most severe long-term back pains is thoracic back pain. Thoracic back pain is pain centered in a section of the spine containing twelve vertebrae known as the thoracic region.
Thoracic back pain is often caused by a herniated disc or a slipped disc in the thoracic region. If it is one of these problems, it is usually pretty easy for your doctor to diagnose with a simple x-ray. Your doctor will then come up with a treatment plan based on your age, activity level, and the severity of the problem.
Thoracic back pain can also be caused by overexertion. Lifting too much weight or pushing yourself too hard too quickly in an exercise program are probable reasons. In this type of situation, a strained or pulled muscle may be causing your thoracic back pain. If your doctor diagnoses this, he will usually give you a variety of home treatment options for your thoracic back pain.
One of the treatments that may be recommended for you is the use of alternating hot and cold compresses, water bottles, or packs. The hot helps improve blood flow and and aids in the relaxation of the muscles. The cold helps prevent swelling by flushing the blood back out of the thoracic area. Neither should be applied at too great of a temperature extreme. The hot should never be so hot as to cause skin burn. The cold should have some sort of insulating layer between it and your skin, such as a thin cotton towel.
If you have no adverse reactions to anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen, one of these may also be recommended by your doctor. While these are thought of as pain killers, they give you more benefit for their anti-inflammatory properties in the case of thoracic back pain. Reducing the swelling helps the back heal more quickly and prevents some complications. For this reason you won’t be taking these just when you have pain, but you’ll want a constant, low-dosage supply of them in your bloodstream until your doctor is satisfied with your healing progress or decides on another treatment option for your thoracic back pain.
While your doctor may in some cases recommend bed rest for your thoracic back pain, it is not generally for long periods. Too much time laying down could cause complications. But your doctor may have you do some specific positions in bed for a few days. One common treatment is to lay flat on your back with your legs up on pillows alternated with laying on your side with a pillow between your legs. Your doctor will want you to follow this bed rest with as much upright activity as you can handle without feeling additional back pain. The goal of laying down is to relieve the pain a little so that you can handle exercising and building up some muscle in your back and abdomen. Additional muscle strengthening will help support your weight and posture and take some burden off of the thoracic region. This will reduce your thoracic back pain and more importantly allow your back to heal under less stress.