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Upper Back Pain - Symptoms & Orthotic Treatment

Any type of pain that occurs in the dorsal or thoracic area of the spine is called upper back pain, including that which affects joints with the ribs or the thoracic area, as they are closely linked together.

What causes upper back pain?

Upper back pain can have many causes, as there are numerous structures that are capable of producing pain. The presence of pain can have numerous causes. It can, for example, be organic, such as infectious spondylitis, caused by an infection in one or several vertebrae; inflammatory, resulting in ankylosing spondylitis; or metabolic, as a consequence of vertebral crushing (osteoporosis). Other sources such as tumours, trauma, Scheuerman’s disease and static or functional disorders can also be responsible for back pain.

Upper back pain ~ Symptoms

Pain manifests itself differently depending on its origin, ranging from fatigue and a feeling of heaviness to tingling, a sensation of burning and limited movement. On palpation, muscle tension is evident with paravertebral muscle contractions. The source of the pain needs to be identified to establish whether it is emanating from paraspinal ligaments, facet joints or intercostal areas with trigger points or points of intense pain. The presence of herniated discs can also cause severe pain in the back.

Upper back pain ~ Orthotic Treatment

Reducing physiological curves resulting in hyperkyphosis and the pulling forward of the shoulders (roundback) requires realignment of these curves to produce lordosis and kyphosis correction and the pulling back of the shoulders. Selection of the appropriate orthosis depends on the degree of bracing and immobilisation required, and the disorder that is causing the back pain. Selecting the most appropriate dorsolumbar support orthosis for the required treatment, in terms of materials and design, is of great importance, where aspects such as the fabric, reinforcements, fastening and adjustment straps and rigid elements (stays, bands, etc.) used in its manufacture need to come into play.

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