I’ve always called the thoracic spine the “bastard child” of the spine (so to speak) - since the scientific literature has traditionally focused on the cervical and lumbar spines. While the rate of thoracic spine pain is much lower than the rates of neck and low back pain, it can certainly lead to similar degrees of pain and disability! 

One plausible etiology of thoracic spine pain symptoms is the presence of myofascial pain associated with the presence of trigger points (MTrPs) – defined as hypersensitive points within taut bands of skeletal muscles that can lead to referred pain and autonomic phenomenon when stimulated.  

An association between hyperexcitability of the central nervous system, expressed as widespread hypersensitivity to pressure pain, and neck and low back pain has been found, however, no studies have examined this phenomenon in thoracic spine pain. No studies examining the presence of MTrPs in patients with thoracic spine pain were found. 

This study aimed to examine the presence of MTrPs and widespread pressure pain sensitivity in individuals with upper thoracic spine pain when compared to healthy controls. The authors hypothesized that patients with upper thoracic spine pain would have higher numbers of both active and latent MTrPs and higher sensitivity to pressure pain, and that higher intensity of upper thoracic spine pain and number of active MTrPs would be associated with higher widespread sensitivity to pressure pain…LOG IN OR SUBSCRIBE TO ACCESS THIS REVIEW!  

THIS WEEK'S RESEARCH REVIEW: “Trigger Points & Widespread Pain Sensitivity in Upper Thoracic Spine Pain”

This paper was published in Pain Medicine (2019) and this Review is posted in Recent Reviews, Trigger Points, Thoracic Spine - Manipulation/Mobilization, Pain - Chronic Pain and the 2020 Archive.

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