Your thoracic spine has quite limited movement compared with your cervical (upper back) spine and your lumbar (lower back) spine because the ribs attach to it and it protects all of your vital organs which are located within the ribcage and thoracic spine. The thoracic spine assists with breathing and lots of muscles attach to this part of the spine.
Having good mobility and posture at the thoracic spine is very important for preventing injury and enhancing recovery. Physiotherapy is an effective treatment for thoracic joint stiffness and can reduce your time spent out of work or out of sports.
What is joint stiffness?
Joint stiffness is the inability to easily mobilise certain joints as they have become stiff. Joint stiffness is very common and can occur with or without pain. Thoracic joint stiffness will have an effect on your neck posture, potentially causing pain and headaches. It can also affect your breathing, shoulder movement and lumbar spine movement.
What causes joint stiffness?
A lot of our time is spent hunched over, for example if working at a desk or on a computer all day.
There are a few different reasons we get a stiff thoracic spine including:
- Driving for long periods
- Being in an awkward position when breastfeeding
- Long periods hunched over reading or at a desk
- Being in the foetal position whilst sleeping
- Poor technique when performing exercises such as dead lifts, plank position and sit ups
Other conditions including osteoporosis and ankylosing spondylitis will too affect your thoracic spine mobility.
All of these activities lead to an increased bend in the thoracic spine (kyphosis) but will reduce the overall amount of movement which will have consequences on other structures.
What are the symptoms of joint stiffness?
Joint stiffness is associated with decreased movement at the thoracic spine and may be painful. You may also have more of a hunched posture and movement in your upper and lower back may be increased to compensate for the decreased movement at your thoracic region.
How is joint stiffness diagnosed?
Your physiotherapist will carry out a full subjective and objective examination to determine whether you have thoracic joint stiffness or something else is causing your symptoms. Sometimes you may need a scan such as an MRI scan to determine if there is something else causing your symptoms.
What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for joint stiffness?
Following on from your assessment your physiotherapist will provide you with an individual treatment programme based on what was found on assessment.
- Joint mobilisations
- Joint manipulations
- Soft tissue massage
- Range of movement and stretching exercises
- Postural exercises
- Strengthening exercises
- Graded return to activity
Benefit of physiotherapy for joint stiffness?
There are several benefits of seeking physiotherapy for joint stiffness.
- Increased range of movement
- Decreased stiffness
- Decreased pain
- Increased function
- Improved sporting activity
- Prevention of injury
Don't let pain win...
Our Expert Physiotherapists in Witham and Chelmsford specialise in providing the latest treatments and techniques in order to get you pain free as soon as possible, cure the cause of your pain and help you to return to pre-injury levels of activity.
Furthermore, we'll also give you a bespoke exercise and rehabilitation program, and advise you on how to prevent re-injury and remain pain free.
At Farrell Physiotherapy we work with some of the uk's top insurance companies to ensure you're covered.
We can accept payment from AXA (PPP), Bupa, PruHealth, simplyhealth and Standard Life, if you have any questions about alternative payment methods, please get in touch with us using the contact form at the bottom of the page and we'll get back to you asap!
I recently injured my Achilles Tendon and I was able to get immediate treatment from a very enthusiastic physiotherapist at ‘Farrell Physiotherapy’. I then had further regular treatment from Ben and continued with the follow-up exercises he gave me to do at home. I found Ben’s enthusiasm contagious and with the treatment and advice he gave me I have been able to get back to regular activity. I have been able to play 18 holes of competitive golf 4 days consecutively with there being no issues.
I was referred to Ben after a road traffic accident for pain in my neck. The service I received was excellent. He not only treated my neck pain but also helped me to correct my bad posture which was not aiding my recovery.
Ben is extremely friendly and gives a very professional service and I can’t thank him enough for resolving the problem. I would highly recommend him.
- Carol Joyce
I am an animal physiotherapist myself and can not recommend Ben more highly. He is the human physio I have been searching so long for!! There are very safe COVID procedures, and a great friendly and efficient environment. Ben makes you feel welcome, explains things perfectly and always ensures you're comfortable.
Most importantly Ben has enormously helped me with my knees. After having radiographs, an MRI, seeing a NHS and another private physio - none of them could help in that way that Ben did in 6 sessions and continues to do so. I have a long way to go but I have never had any faith that my goals are achievable but with Ben I now do - thank you!!
- Lauren Hunt
I have recently completed a course of treatment with Ben Farrell and am pleased to highly recommend him to others. I went to see Ben when I was suffering with extreme pain due to a trapped nerve in my neck which caused pain to radiate into my shoulder, arm and hand. I got an appointment very quickly and Ben was able to diagnose the problem and work on alleviating the pain. Part of the treatment has involved improving my longstanding poor posture which I’ve had since a child and believed was something that could not be changed. Ben has also advised me on how to continue to work on this to avoid this problem from reoccurring in the future.
- Judith Woosnam
I visited the practice on personal recommendation following a doctor’s diagnosis of an as then unspecified “shoulder injury”. I had seen my GP as the increasing pain in my arm and shoulder was not only preventing me from lifting my arm above 90%, but was also increasingly stopping me from sleeping at night.
After an initial diagnosis session where Ben Farrell had quickly identified the actual problem, I then undertook a course of hands on physiotherapy and an increasing program of exercise. In view of the complexity of the problem (which I was advised had been going on for far longer than I has know), the physiotherapy program was, therefore, pretty comprehensive, however, always with excellent support and guidance from Ben along the way.
I am very pleased with the results and I am now both playing much better golf and getting a full night’s sleep. And, I have no problems lifting my arm its full range!!!! So, the next thing on the agenda will be the golf game at Benton Hall.
Before visiting Ben I had been suffering from pain in my achillies tendons, which had stopped me from running my first half marathon. I had previously visited other physios local to me but had made no improvement. On my first visit ,Ben immediately diagnosed that my problem was coming from an old lower back injury. I was impressed that he was determined to treat the root cause of the injury (back) and provide a long term cure, and not just focus on a short term treatment of my achilles. Ben’s friendly but straight talking manner made my visits very enjoyable. I was so impressed that I took my 14 year old son to see Ben when he had an injury prior to a very important football trial. I would not hesitate to highly recommend Ben to anyone .
- Mike Smith
Couldn’t have asked for a better service than I got in just 4 weeks I spent with Mr Farrell.
My first appointment with Mr Farrell was 4 weeks prior to running the London marathon and I was in no fit state to be able to run it due to a knee injury. Mr Farrell gave me a number of exercises to completely daily and a handful of one on one sessions as well. He also advised me on picking a better pair of running shoes to support my foot shape and create less pain in my knee.
A combination of the hard work put in by Mr Farrell and myself I managed to complete the marathon in just over 4 hours. A great achieve considering I couldn’t run for 4 months prior to the race due to my knee. My only regret was not going to see Mr Farrell earlier! Then I may have be able to probably train for it. Would highly recommend Mr Farrell to anyone, a very professional service and great results.
- Fraser Murray
One of the main things I learnt when you treated me was your ability to dispel some of the old chestnuts about joint pain. Through your physiotherapy and advice I now walk more and cycle a lot. I do not rest up when I have a flair up, I do the maximum exercise I can without causing to great a discomfort to my joints. I avoid Painkillers if at all possible.
I can honestly say that you have helped me to take a new outlook on life. Thank you.
Ben Farrell was very thorough and professional when I went to him for treatment on my tennis elbow. He treated my posture as well as the elbow. The exercises he taught me both enabled the pain to go away and stay away, thus doing himself out of work! He and all his staff were very pleasant and friendly and I would recommend him unreservedly.
- Shane Murphy
Ben is an excellent physiotherapist who provided a considered care plan that enabled me to achieve my goals. Ben in his unique professional and personable manner demonstrated judgement and considerable experience to assist my recovery
After suffering persistent shoulder pain for several months I went to Farrell Physiotherapy on the recommendation of my husband.
After only a short course of treatment and undertaking daily exercises I am now pain free.
I would gladly recommend Farrell Physiotherapy to any person requiring physiotherapy treatment.
- C Wiltshire
I received excellent treatment for a foot and knee complaint that I thought would need an operation. It was very debilitating. However, after my course of physiotherapy sessions and continuation of exercises to do at home, I am now pain free and back to my normal exercise routine at the gym.
- C Dobinson
We have two clinic locations within the Essex area. Physiotherapy in Witham and Physiotherapy in Chelmsford, please use the map below to view contact details for the clinic that you would prefer to visit.
Unit 3b, The Old Coal Yard,
Little Waltham Road,
Witham Leisure Centre,