Of all the regions of the body, the spine ranks as one of the most common in which pain occurs. Back pain can result from a wide range of injuries and conditions, and in many cases, it may be difficult to identify any cause at all. But there is also a condition called upper thoracic syndrome, which is considered one of the lesser known and under-recognized causes of upper back pain in New York City. Upper thoracic syndrome leads to symptoms in the back and down to the hands that can be a disturbance to your daily life, but our physical therapists are equipped to correctly diagnose and treat this bothersome condition.
The spine can be divided into the following five segments moving from its top at the skull to the base: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, and coccyx. The thoracic spine is located right below the neck (cervical spine), starting at the shoulders and spanning 12 bones—or vertebrae—to the lower back region, or lumbar spine. Upper thoracic syndrome, or T4 syndrome, indicates that there is pain in the 4th vertebrae of this thoracic segment of the spine.
Upper thoracic syndrome primarily develops from an injury to this region of the spinal cord. These types of injury typically result from repeated bending, arching, lifting, or twisting movements of the upper back, which causes damage to the joints of the thoracic spine. Upper thoracic syndrome can also be caused by poor posture, particularly from protruding the head too far forward while sitting or standing, as well as slouching.
For patients with upper thoracic syndrome, symptoms may be varied depending on how severe the condition is, but some of the most common symptoms include pain in the upper back and/or arms, a tingling sensation in the arms and/or hands, extreme hot or cold temperature sensation in the hands, and a heavy feeling in the arms. Less common symptoms include neck pain, pain radiating towards the chest, muscle spasms, and stiffness.
How our therapists manage patients with this type of back pain in New York City
If you’ve been experiencing a number of these symptoms continuously over time, there’s a chance you may have upper thoracic syndrome; however the only way to be certain is after undergoing a thorough evaluation from one of our physical therapists. If a diagnosis is confirmed, physical therapy is regarded is one of the most effective methods for managing upper thoracic syndrome. At our clinic, a typical treatment program for this type of back pain in New York City will typically include the following components:
- Joint mobilization and manipulation of the thoracic and cervical spine
- Soft-tissue massage
- Stretching and strengthening exercises for the muscles of the upper back
- Exercises to improve the stability of the core muscles
- Education on how to minimize further symptoms, such as using the right posture, not sitting for too long, taking frequent breaks, and getting enough rest
Just because upper thoracic syndrome may not be as well known as other back-related conditions doesn’t mean it can’t still be a nuisance to your life. So if your upper back pain in New York City is holding you back from functioning normally in any way, we’d like to help. Contact Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City at 212-317-8303 to schedule an appointment today, or click here for more information on upper thoracic syndrome.