The thorax and ribs are one of the most under researched and under acknowledged regions of the musculoskeletal system that can not only be a source of direct pain, but a significant contributor to other dysfunction within the body as it affects almost every task we do daily.
It contributes to 60% of the rotation in the trunk, has two adjoining ribs connecting to each vertebral body, and has many important muscular connections to the neck, shoulders, lumbar spine, pelvis, pelvic floor and plays a role in every breath we take. The thorax provides a spring against compressive loads acting like a shock absorbing system within the spine and has a huge impact on how well the diaphragm functions.
After collecting a thorough history of your symptoms and functional goals/limitations, treatment will focus on restoring optimal, pain free movement and function of your thoracic spine. Treatment may include:
Breathing retraining and diaphragm release
Treatment and assessment of adjoining ribs through the connect therapy approach to assess any other drivers
Soft tissue massage
Muscle energy techniques
Exercises to restore movement and strength
Functional movement retraining
Causes of thoracic spine pain can vary, but may include the following:
Mechanical causes: e.g. posture with computer work, driving or breastfeeding
Scherrmanns disease, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, Anklosing Spondylitis
Thoracic outlet syndrome
Referral from the cervical spine
Inflammation/irritation of the joints that connect the ribs to the thoracic spine