THE MID AND UPPER BACK

 

STRUCTURES

  • There are twelve thoracic (or dorsal) vertebrae in this area, with twelve pairs of ribs forming the rib cage which contains the heart and lungs

  • At the front of the body the upper ten ribs are attached to the sternum or breast bone by means of cartilage

  • Below the ribs, the large diaphragm muscle has attachments to the sternum, the lower ribs and the vertebrae of the lower spine.  The diaphragm is involved in breathing

  • At the back, the flat shoulder blade bones are positioned over the ribs

  • The spinal nerves exit from the spinal cord through openings between the vertebrae, and supply the skin and muscles of the back and chest

  • The spinal nerves also have branches going internally to the heart and respiratory system

FRONT OF CHEST

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CAUSES OF BODY STRESS

  • The chest and back areas may be strained by working in a hunched or twisted posture, e.g. bending over a sewing machine, doing woodwork, etc

  • Lifting heavy objects or by holding something up for a long time

  • Emotional tension, such as shock or anxiety, e.g. the typical "butterflies in the stomach" feeling

  • Chemical sources, e.g. irritation from eating or drinking something spicy, acid or very cold which may occur as a painful spasm of the diaphragm muscle

  • Referred pain from the lower back into the muscles of the chest and upper back

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THE EFFECTS OF BODY STRESS

  • A mild, nagging ache in the upper back between the shoulder blades, or possibly a persistent itching

  • A severe stabbing pain in this area, or in the chest.  The pain is worsened by deep breathing

  • Body stress in the diaphragm muscle may result in indigestion or heartburn, or a feeling of breathlessness

  • An impact on the nerve supply to various internal organs, such as heart, lungs, kidney and bladder which may interfere with normal function

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ADVICE TO MINIMISE STRESS TO THE MID AND UPPER BACK

  • Do not remain working in a hunched or twisted posture for any lengthy period.  Take frequent breaks or change position
  • In heavy lifting, the object should be held close to the body
  • Do not carry heavy objects without assistance
  • Avoid foods and drinks which tend to cause indigestion or heartburn, and certain food combinations which cause bloating and pressure in the diaphragm area

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