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Thoracic & Lumbar Dysfunction

As your spinal cord exits from your brain and passes down your back through a hole in your vertebrae, problems in your middle back such as stiffness will tether or pinch your nerves as they pass.

Common Signs & Symptoms

  • Stiffness in your middle back from joint, muscles and soft tissues
  • Started with trauma or sudden injury, or poor posture over time
  • Lack of 'core' tummy and back muscle strength
  • Poor posture
  • Made worse by prolonged sitting at a computer, using a backpack, sedentary postures
  • A common area affected by conditions such as Ankylosing Spondylitis, Osteoarthritis (Spondylosis), Scheuermann's disease, Medical Conditions and Osteoporosis/Osteopaenia

Description

Pain in your low back stems from your middle back for the following reasons:

As your spinal cord exits from your brain and passes down your back through a hole in your vertebrae, problems in your middle back such as stiffness will tether or pinch your nerves as they pass. This pinching can lead to pain in your lower back and legs as well as other symptoms such as pins and needles or numbness.

When you move your body, the joints in your spine need to move too. If your middle back is stiff, your joints here cannot glide fully and stresses when you move are shunted downwards in your lower back causing strain and pain. It's like trying to move a bike chain which is rusty in one area and oiled in another - when you move this chain, the oiled areas take all the stresses causing more wear and tear, whilst the rusty ones just don't move.

Advice & Treatment

Self Treatment

Treatment for Thoracic & Lumbar Dysfunction is aimed at assessing the cause of your middle back problem. Because so many problems stem from joint and muscle stiffness we have focussed on what you can do to help get your movement back to normal, removing the strain on your lower back:

Stiffness of your joints and muscles - when your back is stiff, your joints have lost their ability to slide and glide easily but it's easy to improve the mobility of your back by following these steps:

Middle back stretches - The middle part of your back is the main part of your spine involved in twisting and it's essential to restore your ability to rotate fully. When you are sitting on a chair this helps you to focus the twisting movement into the middle of your back. It's best to do these exercises in a firm chair with no wheels and with a back which is no higher than the middle of your back. Your first exercise - in a seated position with your bottom in the back of the seat, turn fully in one direction and hold onto the side of your chair to pull yourself into a full stretch and hold for at least 10 seconds. Do this in both directions. Also seated with your buttocks in the back of the seat, bring your hands behind your head to support your head and arch your middle back over the back of the chair. 

Self Massage - Using a tennis ball which is pressed between your middle back and the wall, find the tight and stiff areas of your back and press on these areas until they begin to give. Just find the tight muscles either side of your spine and look for the tight or painful knots in these muscles. Some people like to do this exercise by putting their tennis ball in a stocking tied around the chair so they can press into their tennis ball whilst they sit at a desk. This exercise loosens your back muscles to help to release your joints and begin to move again.

Yoga and Pilates

Generally put, yoga helps you to improve your mobility and Pilates helps to improve your core muscle control...so we recommend both! It very much depends on your instructor though, how many people are in your class - it's always best to begin with a one to one session so you get to the bottom of your individual problem.

Physio & Remedial Massage Therapy

Manual treatment from a physio or remedial massage therapist will loosen your joints and soft tissues to help you to stretch further.

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