Upper back arthritis
Upper back arthritis is a very scary name for something that occurs naturally as apart of aging. Between two vertebrae are cartilage discs called intervertebral discs and these allow for smooth spinal movement. As we age these discs lose their moisture and become thinned and degenerated (worn). This degeneration of the intervertebral discs can occur anywhere in the spine however usually occurs in the neck (cervical spine) and low back (lumbar spine) more so than the upper back. We call this degenerative process when it occurs in the upper back, upper back arthritis. Upper back arthritis essentially is an outdated and incorrect term. Degenerative disc disease or thoracic spondylosis are more acceptable terms. We will use it here as a source of information for those who still use the term.
Upper back arthritis occurs as a result of aging. As we age tissues break down and our cartilage tissue is no different. Obesity and smoking increase the risk of upper back arthritis along with a history of spinal trauma, surgery and laborious occupations. Upper back arthritis may increase the likelihood of disc bulges and herniation.
Symptoms of upper back arthritis
Since upper back arthritis can occur in any joint in the spine, the symptoms are associated with where in the spine it has occurred. Typically there will be pain, so general back pain, lower neck pain, upper back pain are common. Individuals who have cervical arthritis may experience symptoms in the neck and shoulder and arm. For individuals who have lumbar arthritis, low back pain, buttock pain and leg pain is common. Remembering that some people will never experience symptoms we don’t just base this diagnosis from image findings such as x-rays, CT scans and MRI scans. A full clinical exam and diagnosis is necessary for a diagnosis.
Treatment for upper back arthritis
At Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C) we specialise in the non-surgical treatment of spine pain including pain associated with upper back arthritis. Our chiropractors and physiotherapists use evidence based treatments to get you pain free and back to living your life. Treatments for upper back arthritis include McKenzie Method, spinal mobilisations, muscle therapy, strengthening exercises and advice. Treatments work on restoring good mechanics and improving pain free range of spinal motion and function.