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Thoracic Spine Problems With Chest & Neck Pain

Updated April 17, 2017

The thoracic spine is made up of 12 vertebrae. All support the 24 ribs and provide the framework for the muscles to move the upper body. You can have certain conditions like thoracic outlet syndrome, kyphosis, osteoarthritis and more that can cause neck and chest pain.

Thoracic Spondylosis

Thoracic spondylosis is a condition in which spine structure and function degenerates. The discs (jellylike substance between vertebrae) break down. You can develop bone spurs and nerves get pinched. All can cause radiating pain and poor posture which in turn could make the neck and chest hurt.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome is the result of compressed nerves (brachial plexus), veins or arteries that affect arm, shoulder, hand and finger movement. Typical symptoms are tingling, numbness, pain in neck and shoulder area, and weakness.

Osteoporosis and Ostearthritis

Osteoporosis can weaken the thoracic spine causing pain in the chest area. It can also affect the cervical spine leading to neck and chest pain. Osteoarthritis causes inflammation of joints and depending upon which joints are affected, you could have both neck and chest pain.

Thoracic Kyphosis

Thoracic kyphosis is when the thoracic spine becomes rounded beyond 40 degrees. Poor posture, computer work, excessive driving, congenital spine issues and other factors can contribute to a hunched back. The result is more laboured breathing and chest or neck pain.

Thoracic Spine Manipulation

In a study reported in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, adjustment of the thoracic spine three times a week for three weeks improved acute neck pain in adults. This finding indicates that there is a connection between neck pain and thoracic spine misalignment.

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About the Author

Based in Colorado Springs, Vanessa Newman writes for "Women's Edition" magazine and has been published in "Rocky Mountain Sports," "IDEA" magazine and "The Teaching Professor." She has been writing professionally for over 10 years and holds a master's degree in sports medicine. She has written online courses for companies such as Anheuser-Busch and Chevron, but prefers creative writing.