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Thoracic T4 Syndrome
Your upper back hurts and your hands are swollen and feel heavy. As you read the symptoms of T4 syndrom, you realize that if you look at them long enough, you could swear they’re turning blue.
It’s understandable that you would look up those symptoms online before scheduling an appointment to see your health care provider. However, you need to keep in mind that there are important things to keep in mind when checking with “Dr. Google” and his associate”Dr. WebMd.”
Please remember, that Dr. Google and Dr. WebMd’s are not medical professionals. Instead, their “higher calling” is to get you to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment with a qualified health care provider.
So if you typed in your symptoms and saw “T4 syndrome” as a possible diagnosis, please remember that you may not have T4 syndrom or T4 damage. You’ll need to see your physician or chiropractor and allow them to make that diagnosis.
T4 syndrome occurs when the T4 vertebrate in the spine is damaged and causes pain in the arm. The vertebrae bones which make up the spine are named T1 to T12 from top to bottom. When the nerves become damaged and the patients experience the pain and discomfort, this is known as T4 Syndrome. T4 syndrome is rare yet deceptive issue that can present in many different ways. T4 syndrome most often appears in people whose profession requires long hours in the same position. Working at a computer most of the work day would be a perfect example.
T4 syndrome can be confused with carpal tunnel syndrome, myofascial pain syndromes, cervical spine degenerative conditions, thoracic outlet syndrome, cardiac pain and pain originating from the viscera.
It is crucial that you seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of T4 syndrome to rule out the possibility of more serious conditions.
What is T4 syndrome?
T4 syndrome is characterized by upper back discomfort and diffuse pain in the arms. The exact cause of T4 syndrome is unclear but it is hypothesized that constant extreme postures can lead to blood loss in multiple tissues contributing to symptoms. Another possible cause for T4 syndrome is that the facet joints in the thoracic spine become damage, either from poor posture or trauma, and that causes inflammation to the nerve root at that level. This could lead to symptoms of T4 syndrome. T4 syndrome is more often found in women than men. The reason for this sex discrepancy is unknown.
What are the symptoms of T4 syndrome?
The symptoms of T4 syndrome can vary but can present as:
Upper body pain that is or is not associated with headache and/or neck pain.
Upper body pain usually presents as:
- Paraesthesias in all five digits, or whole hand, or forearm-hand
- Hands feel hot or cold
- Heaviness in upper extremities
- Hands feel and may objectively be swollen
- Non-dermatomal aches/pains in arm and/or forearm
- Pain often described as crushing or like a tight band
Other symptoms include:
- Tenderness upon palpation in the upper back region
- Palpation of the ribs can recreate symptoms
- Poor slumped over posture
- Hands are slightly discolored or purple
How do you treat T4 syndrome?
Treatment for T4 syndrome includes:
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Soft tissue work on the upper back and neck muscles
- TENS unit
- Postural exercises
- Stretching muscles of the chest
- Strengthening muscles of the upper back
- At home exercises to keep good posture
If you are experiencing symptoms of T4 syndrome and wish to discuss your treatments options please call 855-509-5400 so schedule your appointment with Advanced Wellness Solutions.
Thoracic or mid-back pain is most likely as common as cervical or lumbar pain but less often reported due to its mild pain presentation. The thoracic spine connects to the ribs and chest region. Sprains and fractures in this area are primarily caused by high velocity auto accidents, and may result in permanent nerve damage.
Where the neck is made for movement and the low back is made for power and flexibility, the mid-back (thoracic spine) is made for stability. With the rib cage attached to all levels of the thoracic spine (ribs 1-10 being attached to the sternum and ribs 11-12 floating or not attached to the sternum) this severely limits the motion of the thoracic spine. This limit in motion makes disc herniations and nerve root compression in the thoracic spine less common.
There are two types of thoracic pain.
- Mechanical thoracic pain is caused by injury, trauma or overuse.
- Non-mechanical thoracic pain is due to underlying pathology or disease.
Causes of mechanical thoracic pain are:
- sprain/strain (such as those experienced in a car crash.)
- compression fracture
- postural syndrome
Causes of non-mechanical thoracic pain are:
- osteoid osteoma
- Scheuermann’s Disease
- T4 Syndrome
- herpes zoster
- metastasis (the development of secondary malignant growths at a distance from a primary site of cancer.)
- referred pain from viscera
What to expect at your appointment for a complaint of thoracic pain:
You should expect to provide a full medical history to your healthcare provider. An event or physical complaint that you think is entirely unrelated to your thoracic back pain may provide essential information needed to make a correct diagnosis.
Your doctor will perform a full physical exam, including sensation and strength testing. Your doctor may order X-rays, CT or an MRI to confirm the diagnosis. If non-mechanical thoracic pain is suspected, blood work will be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.
When to seek immediate care for thoracic pain:
Thoracic pain can be referral pain from the viscera i.e. cancer so please seek immediate professional help if you experience thoracic pain with any of the following symptoms.
- History of cancer
- Unexplained weight loss
- Lower limb spasticity
- Progressive pain, worse at night
What can a Chiropractor do for thoracic pain:
- Mid-back exercises and stretches
- Ergonomic training
- Electrical stimulation/TENS treatment
- Supervised medical massage
Thoracic back pain can have a multitude of causes and can be a symptom of cancer. Back pain should always be checked by a chiropractor or medical doctor.
If you live or work in Stuart, Florida and are experiencing back pain, call 855-509-5400 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Danielle Hurd, DC.