Twitter
Share this article.

Understanding Chiropractic Care and Your Health
Part 2: The Thoracic Spine (Mid to Upper Back)

This is the second of three articles dealing with the 3 major areas of the spine, and promoting awareness of the major role chiropractic care can play in your everyday health and wellness. The three main areas of the spine are the cervical (neck), thoracic (mid to upper back), and lumbar / sacral spine (lower back).

The Thoracic Spine

Couple stretchingThe thoracic spine consists of 12 vertebrae (spinal bones) located in the mid to upper back and are labeled T1 – T12. It is located just below the cervical spine (neck) and above the lumbar spine (lower back). In addition to providing protection to the spinal cord, the thoracic vertebrae are what your ribs connect to. Unlike the cervical and lumbar spines with both curve inward (toward the body – lordosis), the thoracic spine curves outward (away from the body – kyphosis) which allows you to be able to bend over and touch your toes.

The nerves that exit through the thoracic spine control the function of many major organs in the body. The nerves exiting through the T1 to T4 vertebrae are associated with the functions of the heart, lungs, esophagus, breast, larynx, trachea, parts of the arms, and muscles of the upper body. T5 through T10 nerves correspond with your gallbladder, liver, stomach, diaphragm, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, small intestine, adrenal and suprarenal glands, and your appendix. While the nerves exiting the T11 and T12 vertebrae are related to your small intestines, colon, uterus, lymph circulation, solar plexus, and muscles in your mid to upper body.

Subluxations (Misalignments) of the Thoracic Spine

At Kempsville Chiropractic many of the problems in the thoracic spine we see on a regular basis are caused by poor posture and stress. Poor posture and stress can cause subluxations (misalignments) of the spine and need to be corrected to restore proper nerve function to your body. When subluxations are left untreated, your body will go through a degenerative process, and any problems caused by a bone in the spine being misaligned and not moving properly will get progressively worse.

The central nervous system is responsible for controlling every function of your body. When there are subluxations in the thoracic spine, major organs such as your heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and adrenal glands will not function optimally. Chiropractic adjustments to correct these misalignments will gently restore function to the nerves in your thoracic spine.

While pain is often the first time many people become aware something is wrong — due to the fact that only about 10% of your nervous system deals with pain — pain is often a final warning that something has been wrong for a while. The doctors at Kempsville Chiropractic encourage their patients to properly maintain a healthy spine through regular chiropractic adjustments, exercise, and lifestyle changes. Our goal is to help you maximize your health and wellness and avoid pain by dealing with your problems now before they degenerate to a painful condition. As the old saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!" When you are proactive with your health you don't have to be reactive to conditions that take your health away.

Mobility of the Thoracic Spine

RibcageThe thoracic spine is connected to your ribcage (as the photo to the left shows), and because of this has a limited range of mobility and flexibility. Much of the flexibility of the thoracic spine is the T11 and T12 vertebrae because your two lower ribs are not connected to your ribcage. Maintaining the mobility of your thoracic spine is important in lifting items, touching your toes, and arm movements.

Anyone playing sports, especially golf, tennis, softball/baseball, and racquetball will find their game benefits from proper mobility and flexibility in the thoracic spine. Your chiropractor will be glad to show you some exercises to maintain the flexibility of your thoracic spine.

As we age ligaments stiffen and costal cartilages can ossify resulting in mobility loss in the thoracic spine. Bone mass deterioration (osteoporosis) becomes more common. It is also common for the thoracic vertebrae to become wedge-shaped (compression fractures), and in extreme cases this can lead to hyper-kyphosis (hunchback) as your back become more and more hunched over. Aging also brings higher risk of osteoarthritis and disc degeneration.

As chiropractors, our goal is to help you avoid many of these problems, and bring relief to those who are currently suffering from these problems. A healthy thoracic spine is important to your well-being. Proper posture, exercise, and regular chiropractic care are key to maintaining a healthy spine.

3 Keys to Maintaining Your Thoracic Spine

  1. One of these most important things you can do long-term to maintain your thoracic spine is to learn proper posture. Read our article on how to stay fit while you sit.

  2. One of the key elements to proper chiropractic care is scheduling appointments that allow you to maintain your health. Please check with your chiropractor to see how often your spine needs an adjustment to keep your body functioning optimally. Every patient is different, and your lifestyle can effect how often you will need adjustments to maintain your health.

  3. Exercise has tremendous and long-lasting benefits. Exercise can help maintain and enhance your flexibility and core strength. Some forms of weight-bearing exercises can even help your body resist osteoporosis.

Possible Symptoms Related to the Thoracic Spine

    Thoracic spine
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Congestion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Gallbladder conditions
  • Gastritis / Gas Pains
  • Heartburn
  • Heart conditions
  • High blood pressure
  • Influenza
  • Jaundice
  • Kidney problems
  • Liver conditions
  • Middle back pain
  • Numbness or pain in the wrist, hand, and finger
  • Pneumonia
  • Reflux
  • Stomach problems
  • Ulcers


You should talk with one of our doctors at Kempsville Chiropractic if you are dealing with any of these problems. Call us at 757.467.5258 to arrange an appointment with Kempsville Chiropractic. We will consult with you on your thoracic spine issues and help find a solution that works for you. If any of your friends and family can benefit from this article, please recommend this article to them.

Read Part 1: Cervical Spine  |  Read Part 3: Lumbar / Sacral Spine



Related Articles


© 2013-2016 Kempsville Chiropractic

These articles are the property of Kempsville Chiropractic. They may not be reused without permission. You are welcome to link to this article. Kempsville Chiropractic has been proudly serving Virginia Beach, Virginia; Chesapeake, Virginia; and Norfolk, Virginia since 1996.

The contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Lombardozzi. The information on this site is not intended as medical advice. The information contained on this website is a sharing of knowledge based on the experience and research of Dr. Lombardozzi and his staff. Dr. Lombardozzi recommends that patients make their health care decisions after doing their research and consulting with a qualified health care professional.

Contact us at 757.467.5258 to set an appointment.