Thoracic Pain

While chest pain should always be evaluated to eliminate issues involving the heart, many patients exhibiting chest pain find that their pain is due to muscles and nerves in the upper and middle back. The thoracic vertebrae are the narrowest part of the spinal canal, making them the most susceptible to issues of injury. Carolinas Pain Center can evaluate your thoracic pain and begin a course of treatment to help you manage this difficult condition.

Common Causes of Thoracic Pain


Thoracic Vertebral Compression Fractures (VCF)

Like any other bone in your body, the thoracic vertebrae can become fractured. This can be from a condition like osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones, or from a hard fall, excessive pressure, or other injury. When one of these bones in the spine collapses, the result is vertebral compression fracture. If left unattended, the fracture can lead to nerve damage. This condition responds best to treatment if it is identified early. Carolinas Pain Center has many multidisciplinary therapies to apply to this type of pain management.

Post Thoracotomy Pain Syndrome

Patients who have had surgery involving the lungs or chest wall may experience irritation of the nerves running along the ribs. This irritation manifests as sharp, electric shock-like pains in the chest but can also be felt in the abdomen. Numerous medical and pain management therapies exist to help treat this post-surgical pain.

Costosternal Syndrome

The connective tissues between the ribs can weaken and become inflamed often due to trauma to the chest. This is known as costosternal syndrome. These costosternal joints are also susceptible to various forms of arthritis. Pain is present with slight pressure and while breathing deeply. Carolinas Pain Center will evaluate patients with this condition and help them learn to manage this unique pain.

Post Herpetic Neuralgia (Shingles Pain)

Most patients with shingles see the painful condition clear within a few weeks. When the pain does not disappear with the other shingles symptoms, it has become what is known as post herpetic neuralgia. Post herpetic neuralgia affects the nerve fibers and skin, especially, but not limited to, the regions where shingles blisters had been. The pain can be constant, with burning sensations that can be so severe as to inhibit sleeping and even appetite. Carolinas Pain Center offers several forms of treatment for patients experiencing this agonizing condition.

Thoracic Radicular Pain

There are several causes for thoracic radicular pain. Bulging disks in the thoracic vertebrae, vertebral compression fractures, and a narrowing of the spinal canal are a few. The pain is due to an irritation of the nerves leaving the spine along the thoracic vertebrae and can be described as sharp pain often combined with numbness along the area affected.


Costochondritis, also known as costosternal syndrome, is a weakening and inflammation of the connective tissue of the chest wall and is frequently seen in smokers, patients with arthritis, or those with inflammatory diseases. This particular condition of the chest wall is sometimes preceded by bacterial or viral infections. As with costosternal syndrome, patients will experience pain with deep breathing and with slight pressure applied to the area. Several helpful therapies are available at Carolinas Pain Center.