Thoracic spine pain: What are the usual causes?

The thoracic spine is comprised of 12 vertebrae that are separated by discs and linked to the ribs. Various conditions can lead to variable degrees and forms of discomfort in the thoracic spine.

Sprains are the most prevalent and least severe cause of thoracic spine pain but can be quite painful. An uncommon cause yet serious in nature include tumors which oftentimes do not trigger pain.

Sprained joints

A sprained joint in the thoracic spine is the usual source of pain and can be severe. The 2 types of joints that can trigger the pain include the facet joints and costovertebral joints.


A sprained joint in the thoracic spine is the usual source of pain and can be severe.

The facet joint pain is typically sharp and limits ability to move while costovertebral pain can be described as stabbing.


A dull, deep and continuous thoracic spine pain can be caused by fractures. It is important to note that osteoporosis is the usual cause due to the reduced bone density it causes which leads to compression fractures.

Sustaining trauma from a serious fall or vehicular accident can damage any part of the thoracic spine which results to sharp pain particularly when sneezing and coughing.


Spondylosis which is a wear and tear form of spinal arthritis is prevalent among adults 45 years and older. The initial phase of the condition produces an aching stiffness amidst the shoulder blades, oftentimes spreading around the rib cage.

The rigidity is usually worse in the morning, but reduces with activity. In the late phases, the nerves in this region of the spine might be irritated, resulting to an intermittent burning pain.

Spinal deformity

Scoliosis is characterized as an unnatural sideway curve of the spine, usually affecting the thoracic region. This thoracic spine pain can range from non-existent to intense depending on the degree of deformity and flexibility of the affected area.

Ankylosing spondylitis is a long-lasting inflammatory ailment affecting the spine. It can involve the thoracic area as well as lead to progressive rigidity.


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