Symptoms: Symptoms of thoracic facet irritation include sharp, stabbing, well-localized pain in the mid back, which tends to get worse after long periods of inactivity, like a long night’s sleep. Certain movements and bodily functions can also result in pain, such as bending to one side, coughing, sneezing or even breathing deeply. It’s also common to feel soreness in the ribs as the thoracic spine is attached to the rib cage. When the joints in the thoracic spine get irritated, the area where the ribs attach to it become tender. Usually, this severe discomfort tends to lessen throughout the day as muscles and tissues see more activity.
Overview: Thoracic facet irritation is an inflammation of the facet joints, the joints that connect the vertebrae (spinal bones). Awkward neck and back movements, poor posture, acute injuries, subluxations (stuck or misaligned joints), and tight muscles can place stress on the facet joints or limit their motion, which in turns leads to irritation and pain.
Subluxations, which limit the joints’ normal range of motion, are a major contributor to thoracic facet irritation. When joints are properly aligned and have their normal range of motion, they lubricate themselves and are healthy. When joints are subluxated, they can no longer lubricate themselves and begin to stick which causes irritation.
One of the major causes of thoracic facet irritation is excessive physical activity such as, heavy lifting, reaching overhead to put something away, carrying heavy objects on the shoulders or pulling a weighted object for a long period of time. Activities such as these can stretch the joint capsules or jam the facet joints, causing subluxations in the spine which can result in painful swelling and inflammation.
If you believe you are suffering from thoracic facet irritation, see Dr. Suzan Starler, D.C. to determine an effective care plan for you that can relieve irritated joints, relax tight muscles, and promote overall healing.