Back pain is one of the most common complaints for many of our clients who are referred to us or elect to opt in for physical therapy and personal training at In Motion O.C. Our backs are an intricate web of vertebrae, connected by cushioned vertebral discs, strung through with nerves, and held together by ligaments and muscles. When you think about the amount of focus on the spine, it can get a bit overwhelming but as the spine and the back are a central part of what keeps us moving and healthy, it’s understandable why there would be some pain now and then. At In Motion O.C., we suggest everyone learn more about how to listen to their bodies, which is why we’ve come up with some specifics about the back and pain in this area to share with you. Healthy education and knowing how to use your body to your advantage in everything you do is the key to wellness.
Anatomy of the Back
We start with the base of our back, which includes the vertebrae that act as the casing that protects our spinal cord and is responsible for holding the body erect. Several vertebrae start where the neck ends and trail down to the tailbone – these are the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae. Thoracic vertebrae begin at the topmost part of the back (just at the end of the neck) and end at the lower portion of the back; the lower back consists of the lumbar, which are the strongest and largest portion of our vertebral bones. These vertebrae are stacked on top of one another and have discs encased by fibrous cartilage to offer cushion and mobility, with nuclei full of nucleus pulposus (a watery substance). The purpose of these discs is for shock absorption, providing support as we run, jump, walk and move every moment of the day.
Thoracic Back (Mid/Upper Back)
This section of the back in combination with an abundance of muscles and 12 vertebrae, labeled T1-T12 (top, down), are dedicated to protecting the most vital organs in the trunk of the body: our lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, and stomach. These bones are considered to be fused because they are limited in twisting and bending ability. As there are 12 sets of ribs, there are 12 vertebral bones connected to them, forming a cage. The upper or mid-back is made to protect and support the rib bones.
The most common types of mid back pain are
Exercise the Pain Away
Here are some therapy based exercises you can try at home to ease your back pain (upper and lower). Our physical therapists show you how to work with these specific points discussed above and teach you how to increase movement without pain.