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Home :: Back Strain, Dorsal or Thoracic Spine Region

Back Strain, Dorsal or Thoracic Spine Region

Injury to muscles or tendons that attach to the vertebral column at the dorsal or thoracic region of the back. The dorsal or thoracic spine is that part where ribs attach to surround the lungs. Muscles, tendons and vertebrae comprise units. The units stabilize the spine and allow its motion. A strain occurs at the weakest part of a unit. Strains are of 3 types:

  • Mild (Grade I) - Slightly pulled muscle without tearing of muscle or tendon fibers. There is no loss of strength.
  • Moderate (Grade 11) - Tearing of fibers in a muscle, tendon or at the attachment to bone. Strength is diminished.
  • Severe (Grade III) - Rupture of the muscle-tendon-bone attachment with separation of fibers.
Chronic strains are caused by overuse. Acute strains are caused by direct injury or overstress

BODY PARTS INVOLVED

  • Tendons and muscles of the dorsal or thoracic spine.
  • One or more vertebral bones.
  • Soft tissue surrounding the strain, including nerves, periosteum (covering to bone), blood vessels and lymph vessels.

Causes

  • Prolonged overuse or stretching of muscle-tendon units in the back.
  • Single violent injury or force applied to the dorsal region of the back.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Pain with motion or stretching of the back, or generalized pain in the back.
  • Muscle spasm when moving the back.
  • Swelling along a muscle of the back.
  • Loss of strength (moderate or severe strain).
  • Crepitation ("crackling") feeling and sound when the injured area is pressed with fingers.
  • Calcification of the muscle or its tendon (visible with X-rays).
  • Inflammation of the tendon sheath

Treatment

Follow your doctor's instructions. These instructions are supplemental.

  • Use Ice massage 3 or 4 times a day for 15 minutes at a time. Fill a large Styrofoam cup with water and freeze. Tear a small amount of foam from the top so ice protrudes. Massage firmly over the injured area in a circle about the size of a softball.
  • After the first 24 hours, apply heat instead of ice, if it feels better. Use heat lamps, hot soaks, hot showers, heating pads, or heat liniments and ointments.
  • Take whirlpool treatments, if available.
  • Wrap the injured back with an elasticized bandage between treatments.
  • Massage gently and often to provide comfort and decrease swelling.

Home Diet

Eat a well-balanced diet that includes extra protein, such as meat, fish, poultry, cheese, milk and eggs. Increase fiber and fluid intake to prevent constipation that may result from decreased activity.
Prevention
  • Participate in a strengthening and conditioning program appropriate for your sport.
  • Warm up before practice or competition.

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