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Thoracic Spine

The thoracic spine, your chest and ribs can sometimes be the forgotten part of your body when it comes to physiotherapy, with most conditions that require this type of attention not being well understood until you are affected by them. Your thoracic spine is best thought of as a flag pole, your head is up the top as the flag, your neck is the pole, and your thoracic spine is the base if the base of the pole where it is supported. It does not matter how strong your flag pole is, if the base of support cannot hold it up, no-one will be able to see the flag.

Thoracic Spine and Ribs

  • Your ribs connect into your thoracic spine at specific joints known as facet joints, and your rib cage is like a barrel supported by your spine. Specific conditions that can affect the thoracic spine include:

  • Rib subluxation: where due to trauma or very abrupt and severe movement a rib may move out of place. This is a painful condition, and you will find it hard to breath, cough and sneeze. You should seek immediate attention from your physiotherapist if you feel this has occurred.

  • Thoracic spine degeneration: As we age our bodies slowly begin to degenerate and our thoracic spine is no different. Poor posture, osteoporosis, arthritis and a lifetime of wear and tear take a toll on our thoracic spine, and we tend to slouch forward, and place increased strain through our upper back and neck.

  • Posture: One of the biggest contributors to upper back soreness is poor posture. Slouching and too much time spent in front of the computer can cause a host of problems for the body, including shoulder and neck pain, restricted movement, curved spine and general movement dysfunction.

What can my physio do to help

  • Your physiotherapist is trained to deal with thoracic spine problems and treat both the cause and the symptoms:

  • Your chest – due to the way the body is structured it is quite possible for tightness and soreness in your upper back to have a cause and pain in your chest. Your physiotherapist will utilise specialised techniques to treat these tender points to help reduce your pain.

  • Jones Technique – the use of a specialised technique known as “strain-counterstrain” to help treat pain and dysfunction utilising specific painful spots across the body.

  • Manual Therapy – your physiotherapist will utilise a number of manual therapy techniques including soft tissue releasing, joint mobilisation and connective tissue realising to help relieve the symptoms of thoracic spine dysfunction.

  • Exercise – your physiotherapist may suggest you perform some exercises to help improve the strength in your postural muscles or provide information on how to improve the ergonomics of your office and home set ups for using a computer, reading and watching television to help minimise the chance of recurrence and improve the general health of your body.

Chest or Respiratory Physiotherapy

  • Chest physiotherapy is a very common form of treatment for people who suffer from chronic respiratory conditions or acute lung infections such as pneumonia, to help move mucous into larger airways where they are able to be coughed up. The therapy may sound scary but it is actually an almost painless experience that leaves you feeling much better and able to breathe easier after the each session lasts for approximately 30mins. Chest physiotherapy involves the therapists positioning you on your side or tummy and performing light percussive techniques along your chest to help break down the build up of secretions in your lungs.

  • If your doctor has suggested that you enquire about chest physiotherapy, feel free to contact the clinic to discuss any questions or concerns you have prior to treatment.

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