The following information does not replace a physician’s diagnosis and advice under any circumstances whatsoever.
False posture of the thoracic spine
False posture of the thoracic spine: what’s that?
If the thoracic spine is burdened over a longer period due to an unfavourable body posture, this can result in false posture. Here, not only is the spine continually subjected to unfavourableburdens, this can also result in deformation of the spine and additional muscle tension to pain. The false posture may result in pain throughout the spine region because the body tries to compensate it elsewhere. Thus, in case of increased hunchback in the thoracic spine, for example, additional buckling of the cervical spine towards the rear can be observed. A “crooked” thoracic spine can also be hereditary in seldom cases. Dependent on the direction, the miscurvature is described as scoliosis (lateral curvature) or hyperkyphosis or hunchback (in case of extreme curvature of the thoracic spine at the front at the height of the vertebrae of the chest). Accompanied by false posture of the thoracic spine, pain may be incurred – depending on the duration and manifestation. Painful false posture of the thoracic spine mostly occurs due to lack of exercise or year-long, isolated bodily work in unfavourable working positions (e.g. tailors, taxi drivers, nurses, etc.). Also, sitting at the desk or the computer for long periods may result in false posture of the thoracic spine.
Symptoms of false posture of the thoracic spine
Normally, symptoms are only incurred if false posture of the thoracic spine takes place over a longer period. Often, this results in neck pain but also headaches and pain in the shoulder, hip and knee joint regions. The feet can also hurt in some cases. The reason: Although the dysfunction of the thoracic spine is compensated by the neck and lumbar spine and its musculature for a certain period, sooner or later it affects these “remote” regions.
Moreover, clearly visible signs of false posture such as “unhealthy” body posture (sagging shoulders, hunchback) or the above-mentioned scoliosis of the thoracic spine exist. Physicians talk of postural dysfunction if the patient is not able to straighten his spine for longer than 30 seconds – with his hands stretched forwards laterally – when standing.
Causes of false posture of the thoracic spine
Apart from hereditary dislocation, the following are viewed as major causes for false posture of the thoracic spine:
- Heavy physical work (e.g. heavy lifting and carrying)
- Physical work in unfavourable positions (e.g. overhead, at a nursing or intensive care bed)
- Sedentary work without chairs and working surfaces correspondingly geared to each other
- Insufficient exercise (primarily amongst children and youths)
- Weakly developed back musculature
- Weakly developed stomach musculature
- Being overweight
Postural defects in the vicinity of the thoracic spine may also arise if the back musculature is well-trained, i.e. if the chest and stomach musculature as antagonists are not compensatively trained and a muscular imbalance thus arises.
Diagnosis of false posture of the thoracic spine
A tentative diagnosis can often already be made based on the symptoms and the patient’s information (case history). The physician can recognise a false posture of the thoracic spine during a physical examination: Here, he examines the body posture and the functional muscular condition, tests the flexibility of the spine in all regions and pays attention to a possibly existing difference of leg lengths or a pelvic obliquity.
In some cases, neurological clarification may also make sense in order to recognise damages to the spine which influence the function of the nerves. Muscular disbalance can be diagnosed using electromyographic function analyses (electromyography). An X-ray when standing and/or in specific body postures provide/s further clarity pertaining to the existing false posture.
How can false posture of the thoracic spine be prevented?
Some possibilities exist which can contribute to the prevention of a false posture of the thoracic spine: These include regular exercise, strengthening of the stomach and back musculature as well as avoiding scoliotic postures. In this respect, attention should be paid to conscious exercise or mobilisation of the thoracic spine: for example changing your position frequently or stretching and elongation, use of a height-adjustable desk or working dynamically, i.e. sitting and standing alternately when working and ergonomically adapted seating and writing furniture in work and everyday situations.
Targeted exercises to mobilise the thoracic spine and strengthen the entire trunk musculature can also help.
What therapy options are available for false posture of the thoracic spine?
The therapy for false posture of the thoracic spine is based individually on the type and extent of false posture, the symptomatic status, the patient’s age and job-related requirements. Basically, physiotherapy, osteopathy, heat or cold treatment and massages are appropriate means to compensate musculature disbalance and to improve both the mobility of the thoracic spine and thus posture. This also helps to relieve any existing complaints. In case of severe back pain, painkillers can initially be prescribed, enabling physiotherapy to be started. Accompanying the therapy, supports or braces such as the BORT Corset or the BORT Corset Sport can be used to support a healthy posture and pain relief. Also, posture training and specific exercises for the thoracic spine as well as tips and strategies for coping with pain and stress may make sense.
In any case, it is very important to integrate more exercise into everyday life and to carry out gymnastics, strengthening exercises as well as sufficient movement (at least 10,000 steps daily). Moreover, routine measures such as the use of specifically appropriate mattresses or normally wearing back-friendly shoes (if applicable with orthopaedic insoles) or using a backpack instead of a carrying bag.
Initially, attempts are made to correct hereditary or fixed false posture (e.g. scoliosis, Scheuermann’s disease, resulting from accidents), which exceed a certain extent of false posture, using a corset. Operational procedures only come into question here in rare cases.
- Corset for straightening and relief of the thoracic spine
- Straightening according to the rucksack principle
- Really easy to put on and off
- Free shoulder blade movement due to the slim design
- Conforms perfectly to the body contours, especially in the critical armpit area
- Modern, sporty design (with a reflecting label)
BORT StabiloFix® Elastic Corset
- Elastic corset for active straightening of the thoracic spine
- Breathable, skin-friendly material
- Slim design, not bulky
COLOUR: white, grey
- Individual adjustment thanks to flexible elastic belts
- Easy to put on, thanks to the rucksack principle