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What Is a Thoracic Spine Adjustment?

Learn about thoracic spine adjustments from Dr. Karen Erickson in this Howcast video.


The thoracic spine encompasses the upper and mid back, and it's defined by the vertebrae in your spine that have ribs that attach to it. So it's really your ribcage that defines the thoracic spine.

The thoracic spine is unique because the ribs stabilize the spine around your torso so it, in some ways, limits the range of motion. The thoracic spine can get misaligned from many different causes, including poor posture, poor sleeping positions, and repetitive stress injuries, sports injuries, even carrying heavy backpacks or other heavy loads in your arms or on your shoulders.

Thoracic pain can really be provoked by poor posture, and chiropractic adjustment is very effective at restoring the range of motion in the thoracic spine and even improving posture.

There are many ways that your chiropractor can adjust your thoracic spine. Usually it's done while you're lying on your stomach, and it's just a very gentle pressure, very specific pressure on the thoracic spine to restore normal motion in the vertebrae. But sometimes these adjustments can be done while you're sitting or even in other positions very effectively.

Chiropractors will also adjust the ribs that attach to the thoracic spine. And this rib pain can be very, very specific. Usually it's around the shoulder blade area or a little higher. And sometimes it feels like there's a knife in your back, and a chiropractor can very carefully examine you and be sure that's what's causing your pain and adjust it very effectively, along with the thoracic spine, and it can reduce pain and inflammation and restore range of motion.

And what my patients appreciate most is that their posture comes back more to normal. There's a tendency with all of the computer work we're doing and other kinds of forward bending activities we do, that the thoracic spine becomes more curved or cathodic, and chiropractic adjustment is a really powerful way to keep that thoracic curve in check so that we can maintain good posture.

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