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Immobile thoracic spine, does this cause lower back pain?


I've been seeing a physio lately to try and figure out my lower back pain problems, after numerous scans, tests and even facet injections - nothing has worked. However she has noticed that my thoracic spine is completely immobile and does not bend. This does not cause me pain unless I'm walking for longer than 10 mins. Normally its just my lower back that hurts 24/7 apart from when I walk.

When the physio works on my joints/muscles of my thoracis spine to attempt to loosen it up, I get referred pain into the lumbar region and this happens on every joint she touches - all the way up to my bra strap. We haven't even tried to go further up on the spine again as the lower half of the spine at the moment is so terrible.

Does any one have a similar problem? Can Thoracic immobility cause lower back pain? Is it bad that it does not bend?



  • So I've now had a few treatments on my thoracic spine with the physio but now i get 24/7 pain there too as well as my lower back and acheing in my glutes. Does anyone have a similar issue where there's no cause and the whole spine seems to be getting worse? It's been 2.5 years now.....
  • calamityccalamity Posts: 19
    edited 02/06/2013 - 4:41 AM
    Goodness me i have just seen your post and it sounds so similar to what i am going through. I had been seeing my gp for constant back pain and he had suggested that i have problems with my thoracic spine and sent me to see a physiotherapist. I have seen her twice now and she has given me some exercises to do but when she is pressing on my spine the pain goes all the way up ro my bra strap and the pain iis cinstant in my lower back and is worse when getting up after sitting and definitely worse after walking distances . I Have not been offered any xrays of mri etc. Does it get any better ?
  • Im sorry to hear youre in a similar state. Mine started with the lower back being painful and its only been the last month out of the 2.5 years that the thoracic has been really sore. It hurts to walk now but it also helps my lower back so Im at a loss. I need to some exercise though otherwise they both get worse.
    I saw my doctor yesterday and the opinion was that because the lower back was so weak and unstable that it causes the thoracic to sway and move the way it shouldn't - he compared it to pitching a tent in sand. If the base is wobbly - the top will be worse. The focus is still getting the lower back right as the thoracic pain is caused by it (apparently). I've been advised to get my nerves burnt off in my facet joints but I don't really know how that will fix anything - it will just take the pain away for a while until the nerves grow back.....
    For me it looks to be a lifetime problem but I'm working on it and trying my hardest to at least stop it getting worse.
    Heat is the best though....
  • Hi just an update as to how things are going. I'm still seeing the physiotherapist for exercises etc. Also I am now in possesion of a tens machine which i am still learning how to use. My question to everybody is am i in my rights to ask for an xray as it seems its ok we taking medication etc but i would really like to know what is actually going on to cause the pain
  • tullkylttullkyl Posts: 23
    edited 03/13/2013 - 4:50 PM
    Hi - yes demand for an X-ray or Ct scan or MRI (they probably won't do MRI until the other two are done and lots of complaining). Since this post I have been getting treatment from a Chiro (which I never really wanted to ever try). The benefit of this was that she ordered me a new X-ray which showed a world of problems. My lower back curves to the side as well as inwards with one joint that looks like has moved out of alignment with the spine. I have a joint between my bra strap that has also move, followed by another curve in my neck to the side and inwards, with more joints out of alignment. The Chiro must take X-rays here in Australia before they do any treatment.
    I have been seeing her twice a week and each time I go it gets worse. However I am getting a few hours here and there when the lower back doesn't hurt which is wonderful. She said it might take 6 months to fix and get the spine back to where it should be but it will hurt in the mean time.
    I don't know anything about tens machines but I don't think I've heard of anyone using them in Aus, scans will be the first thing to get before any treatment in my opinion - keep pushing. I've been pushing for 2.5 years and still getting no where, it's better to keep pushing because it could take time to figure out whats wrong - no point delaying it.
    I hope you are feeling better and the treatment helps.
  • Hi Tully thank u so much for your feedback. I actually went for physio again yesterday. Given more exercises to do and she did a bit of manipulation again which was really painful. Anyway I said about having an x ray but she said no need for that yet it would probably only show wear and tear etc. I have to go back and see her again in April. To be honest the pain was worse after I had been to see her. Anyway I saw my go on Mon and have been put on garbepentin for the pain I have got to see my gp again in 4 weeks so I am definitely gonna ask for an x ray surely that is the most obvious thing to do.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,865
    If you have experienced spinal problems long enough, you begin to realize that in many ways our bodies are Stero and no Mono. Essentially, when one area is affected, another area of our body can be impacted.

    For example, if you hurt your foot and start to limp for several days. That throws off your natural balance, and that in turn might impact your lower back.

    I am a three way spinal patient (Cervical, Thoracic, and Lumbar regions) with multiple surgeries in the lumbar and cervical areas. Because I was locked in my lumbar area and fused in my cervical area, my thoracic discs started to take all the strain. Eventually, I have herniated 4 of them. From that point on, I started experiencing more dramatic cervical issues. This went on for about 18 months with all sorts of conservative treatments. Finally, my doctor sent me to this Thai Deep Tissue Massage specialist. It took him about 4 months of weekly very painful treatments to get my minor.major rhomboid muscle to become pliable. (Prior to this, it was just a solid piece of wood). Once that muscle loosened up, my cervical issues started to go away.

    So for me, my thoracic problems caused additional strain on my cervical area. Once the thoracic problems were addressed, I went back to having a semi-normal cervical life. In the meantime, those years of thoracic problems and multiple surgeries aggravated both of my shoulders. Arthritis spread so quickly, that both shoulders needed to be totally replaced. Having that surgery and the 2 year rehab, both my thoracic and cervical problems were minimized.

    The point of all of this, not everyone is going to see the same situation, but there is no question that once one part of our body gets infected, you can be sure another area of our body is going to be painfully aware.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • The thing I find with spines is that there isn't always a reason for pain and the treatment is generally always the same. Scans are great to show wear and tear etc which can help with treatments and medication. However there's no point taking some meds for something if you don't have that particular problem. What I am trying to say is that I still don't really know what is wrong with mine but it's the same old story of eat well, lots of walking and core strengthening. It's only when things get really bad that surgery etc is utilised. I guess for me I want to avoid surgery for as long as possible so I keep persisting with these few things and trying to stay strong.
    I tried physio, pilates, swimming, bowen therapy, schenar treatment, spinal injctions and chiro - none of which are making me better but I do believe that they are slowing down the degenartion of my spine.Unfortunately docs are still learning about the spine and I guess as patients we feel they should know all.
    Back problems suck but positive thinking, pushing for scans and treatment will hopefully prevent it from getting worse and with any luck - fix the problem.
    Let me know how your travelling, I'm off to chiro again tonight.......... :-P
  • KellyjesKKellyjes Posts: 1
    edited 09/02/2015 - 1:16 PM
    See a chiropractor!! please!!!!!!!! I have the exact same issues, and i know the pain. it kills. see a good chiropractor and he should be able to set your straight ;) pun intended. anyways. sorry to hear about your troubles, medical doctors want to just give meds and do surgeries... and make lots of money. ive been going to a chiropractor for years and it does wonders. there have been days after weight lifting where i did too much weight and threw my hips out and the next day i cant walk and can barely stand up straight without excruciating pain.
    Best of luck!!!

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  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,865
    For basic problems, its probably more of a personal choice. I think once you start reading many forum threads, you will find the majority of members do not want to see a chiropractor and stay away from them. Each person may have their own particular reason. Some members would only see a spine specialist.

    But the best way to understand who you should see is by having the details

    Spine Specialist vs Chiropractor

    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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