Thoracic Sprain: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention, Exercises

Thoracic Sprain– The thoracic spine is located between the base of the neck and the bottom part of the ribcage. Any type of injury to the ligaments in the thoracic spine causes a painful medical condition called as Thoracic Sprain.

What Is Thoracic Sprain?

Thoracic Spine in the body is supported by numerous ligaments, muscles, and tendons and they allow lateral movement of the back. Thoracic muscle pain is caused due to overuse or injury to these ligaments and muscles like heavy lifting, repeated bending, poor sitting posture etc. Thoracic Sprain significantly limits movement of the thoracic spine area and impairs movement of the ribs. Thoracic Sprain can occur in any individual, but it is usually common in sportsmen like weightlifters or people who are involved in heavy and repeated lifting at work.

Thoracic Sprain

What Are The Causes Of Thoracic Sprain?

Some of the causes of Thoracic Sprain are overuse, poor sitting posture, and any type of trauma or injury. If due to these reasons, the muscles get inflamed or irritated it results in diffuse pain with impaired range of motion. In some cases, Thoracic Pain can also signal an underlying heart condition or a renal dysfunction.

Majority Of Thoracic Sprains Are Caused By The Following:

  • Heavy repeated lifting
  • Sudden twisting or torquing motion
  • Sporting activities like weightlifting
  • Poor sitting posture
  • Motor vehicle collisions with direct injury to the thoracic spine
  • Falls.

Causes Of Thoracic Sprain

What Are The Symptoms Of Thoracic Sprain?

Sudden onset back pain with activities is the primary symptom of a Thoracic Sprain. Depending on how severe the injury is the symptoms vary and can range from mild pain to excruciating pain in the thoracic region. Some of the symptoms of Thoracic Sprain are:

  • Pain in the midback area
  • Weakness and instability of the thoracic spine
  • Tenderness in the thoracic area
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness of neck and back
  • Reduced mobility in thoracic region
  • Exacerbation of pain with coughing or sneezing.

The Symptoms Of Thoracic Sprain

How Is Thoracic Sprain Diagnosed?

To diagnose a thoracic sprain, the treating physician will conduct a detailed history and physical examination to determine the cause of the injury. During physical examination, the physician will look for areas of tenderness in the neck and back area. He will also look for any pain within the upper back area with activities. If Thoracic Sprain is suspected, the physician will order radiologic studies like MRI or CT scan to confirm the diagnosis of Thoracic Sprain.

What Are The Treatments For Thoracic Sprain?

Thoracic Sprain is basically treated conservatively. Some of the treatment measures for Thoracic Sprain are:

  • Massages
  • Physical therapy to strengthen the upper and mid back
  • Application of ice followed by heat after about 48 hours
  • Acupuncture
  • Medications like NSAIDs for pain relief and to decrease inflammation
  • Chiropractic manipulation.

Apart from this, taking adequate rest and avoiding activities till the pain and inflammation resolves is also imperative.

Treatments For Thoracic Sprain

How Can Thoracic Sprain Be Prevented?

Some of the measures that can be taken to prevent Thoracic Sprain are:

  • Maintain good sitting posture so as to prevent muscles and ligaments from getting irritated and reduce stress to the spine
  • Maintaining regular exercise regimen to strengthen muscles and ligaments
  • Using chairs which are back-friendly
  • Wearing protective gear with sporting activities
  • Using appropriate techniques when performing heavy lifting or frequent bending.

Exercises For Thoracic Sprain

    1. Clasping the Hands Backwards: This exercise can be performed wither in sitting or in standing position. Stand straight and try to clasp your hands behind your back and at the same time try to extend your neck backwards by looking up.

Clasping the Hands Backwards

    1. Shoulder and Neck Lift: Lie flat on the ground and slowly try to lift your shoulder and neck up as much as possible. Hold in this position for a couple of seconds and then come back to original position of lying flat on the ground. Repeat this exercise a couple of times.

Shoulder and Neck Lift

    1. Upper Torso Stretch and Swing: Use a long stick to perform this exercise. Hold the stick at your shoulder width or little more than your shoulder width and let it rest on your shoulder behind your neck. Now try rotating your upper body from left to right as much as possible.

Upper Torso Stretch and Swing

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 3, 2019

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