As I started to put together our next SpineCare Newsletter, I noticed that one of the main topics in the news these days is the prescribing of narcotics by physicians for pain management and the subsequent drug addiction and overdoses this creates. Take for example the singer Prince.
Pain in the middle of your back? Between your shoulder blades? Felt pain wrapping around your ribs? Pain in the mid-back is an area of the body that that is often misunderstood and not well treated by most medical practitioners. The cervical and lumbar spine get a lot of attention and most of the treatment. The thoracic spine, which is the part of the spine which is located in the middle of the back, is the longest part of the spine with the most discs and vertebrae. If you look at the figure below you can see how each one of the twelve thoracic nerves cover their own part of the middle of the back. They are labeled in this diagram from T1 to T12.
There are many possible causes of pain in the shoulder, but the two main problems that create pain in this area is inflammation in the shoulder itself, or a nerve in the neck that refers pain to the shoulder. Diagnosing pain in the shoulder area may be difficult at times due to the fact that as we age there will be wear and tear in the shoulder joint without creating pain.
It’s not uncommon today to walk into a room and see the majority of people looking down at their phone. Surely that can’t be doing any good for the neck and spine! As mentioned in a Forbes article, a new study by Dr. Kenneth Hashraj, The Chief of Spine Surgery at the New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, discusses the effects of prolonged phone use.