Suffering From Upper Back Pain?

Up to 1 in 3 people will experience upper back pain each year.

The upper back, also known as the thoracic spine, is the region between the neck and the low back. It is comprised of 12 vertebrae which are accompanied by a pair of ribs on each side. As the thoracic spine is restricted by the rib cage, it mainly helps in assisting the neck, shoulder, and low back with global ranges of motion. This means, pain in the upper back is often less likely to cause impairment, however a chronic issue may eventually lead to problems in the adjacent regions. Learn about some of the common upper back conditions we treat at Evomotion Health and Wellness.

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Mechanical Thoracic Spine Pain

Mechanical thoracic spine pain is caused by stress to a combination of the muscles, joints, and ligaments of the upper back. The condition is often due to prolonged posture. When constantly slouching, the the upper back becomes more rounded and can place additional stress on the structures of the upper back.

Symptoms May Include:

  • Pain in the upper back
  • Stiffness in the upper back
  • Restrictions with upper back movements
  • Referred pain to the neck, shoulders, or low back
  • Muscle spasms
  • Slight swelling and redness

Rib Dysfunction

Rib dysfunction is due to the restriction of a rib, often where it articulates with the upper back vertebrae. This is often because of excessive or repetitive stress applied to the rib, either from trauma or prolonged posture. 

Symptoms May Include:

  • Dull and achy upper back or shoulder blade pain at rest
  • Sharp upper back or shoulder blade pain with movement
  • Radiation of pain into anterior chest wall
  • Restricted thoracic spine motion
  • Pain aggravated by deep breathing, coughing, or sneezing
  • Difficulty finding comfortable sleeping position

Intercostal Strain

The intercostals are 3 layers of muscles that attach your ribs to one another. They assist in breathing by allowing for the expansion and contraction of the ribcage and help stabilize the upper body. A strain of the intercostals often occurs following a forceful twisting motion but can also gradually occur from repetitive overhead movements.

Symptoms May Include:

  • Pain in the upper back or chest
  • Stiffness and muscle tension
  • Difficulty with deep breathing
  • Aggravation with twisting or reaching overhead
  • Aggravation with coughing or sneezing
  • Slight swelling


Scoliosis is a lateral curvature of the spine. There are two types of scoliosis; structural and functional. A structural scoliosis is due to the way spinal anatomy is positioned and cannot be corrected without surgical methods. It is normal to have some degree of structural scoliosis, and it should not cause a problem if it is under 10 degrees of curvature. A functional scoliosis is a compensation due to another condition and can be corrected with conservative treatment. Common causes of functional scoliosis are chronic poor posture, leg length discrepency, and inflammation.

Symptoms May Include:

  • Uneven shoulders or pelvis
  • Prominant rib hump
  • Trouble with balance
  • Pain and discomfort in the upper back
  • Stiffness in the upper back
  • Muscle tension and spasm

Don't Let Upper Back Pain Defeat You.

Find relief and move with confidence.

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