What You Need To Know About Upper Back Pain

30 Oct What You Need To Know About Upper Back Pain

Many of those who visit a pain center will have complaints about low back pain. But, there are many people who also have upper back pain, and they, too, need to be examined by pain center doctors. The following looks at some of the more common reasons for upper back pain and what can be done for those who suffer from these conditions.

Thoracic Vertebral Compression Fracture:

Thoracic vertebral compression fracture happens when a single bone or multiple bones that are in the spine collapse. It usually occurs thoracic (chest) region of the patient’s spine, and it can be caused by trauma or by osteoporosis. The amount of pain caused is dependent on the type of injury and how severe the injury was. Those coming to the pain clinic with this condition say the pain is dull at times, sharp at other times, and can feel like a stabbing pain as well. Patients also say that coughing, sneezing, or certain movements can increase the pain.

Simple x-rays taken at the pain clinic are used to diagnose this condition. Also, radionuclide bone scanning may be needed if there was trauma; bone density testing may be needed in some cases when trauma is not present.

Treatment for this conditioin can include analgesics as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. For severe cases, a thoracic epidural block may be required.

Intercostal Neuralgia:

Intercostal neuralgia is caused by inflammation or damage to the intercostal nerves. Those who present at the pain clinic with this condition say the pain is burning and constant. The pain felt with this condition can also mimic the pain felt in heart attacks, so it is imperative that people be checked out by pain management experts to avoid being misdiagnosed. In fact, many of those suffering from this condition first seek medical attention at the ER or pain clinic because they think that they are having a heart attack.

Diagnosis of this condition can be done (in most cases) with simply x-rays. However, additional testing may be needed to make sure that there are no cardiac problems being overlooked.

Those who have this condition can be treated with analgesics as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents in some cases. Those who do not respond to these treatments may need to have an intercostal nerve block.

Thoracic Radiculopathy:

Thoracic radiculopathy is caused by nerve roots that are being compressed in the thoracic region of the spine. This compression can cause pain in the upper abdomin or chest wall. Important Note: Those who have chest pain or abdominal pain must get immediate medical attention in order to ruleout any possible life-threatening conditions.

Common symptoms that bring patients to the pain clinic include weakness, numbness, and paresthesias. In addition, some patients may experience a shift to one side.

The pain clinic can diagnose thoracic radiculopathy by doing a physical exam and taking a careful history. A CT scan or MRI may also be needed. For some patients, they may need a nerve conduction study.

This condition is best treated with a multi-disciplinary approach that often includes physical therapy as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and muscle relaxants. For some, a thoracic steroid epidural nerve block may be needed.

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