Thoracic Arthritis Symptoms: What You Need To Know

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What Is Thoracic Arthritis?

As many as 80 percent of all Americans will experience back pain at some time in their lives. In many cases, the pain will be due to an injury caused by a sprain or fall. However, in a significant number of cases, the pain will be due to arthritis, and specifically to a form of arthritis known as thoracic arthritis. Thoracic arthritis is a general term that describes the specific several forms of arthritis that affect the spine. Namely, these forms of arthritis primarily include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and systemic lupus erythematosus. A detailed discussion of these forms and their signs and symptoms is provided below.


Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and is marked by the excessive and unusual wearing of joint cartilage. In most cases in which osteoarthritis specifically affects the spine, it strikes the lower spine (i.e., the lower back) and therefore presents as pain, loss of flexibility, stiffness, and tenderness in that particular region. Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis exists, sufferers can alleviate symptoms and possibly slow progression of their effects by actively treating these symptoms and by participating in regular exercise.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of arthritis that is marked by pain or stiffness in joints, including, in some cases, the joints of the spine. Early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include excessive fatigue, fever, reduced appetite, and weakness. Later, joint pain commonly manifests. If left untreated, joints can entirely wear down in as little as one to two years' time.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that typically strikes the regions between one or more vertebrae of the spine (and sometimes other areas of the body). Symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis include chronic pain in the lower back and hips (which is especially pronounced in the morning after a night’s sleep) and stiffness and inflexibility in the lower spine and hips. Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic condition, but the severity of its symptoms can be reduced by treating the condition. If left untreated, advanced symptoms, such as chest and breathing problems, reduced vision (due to an eye inflammatory condition known as uveitis), and bowel inflammation can occur.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus)

Systemic lupus erythematosus, or simply lupus, is a form of arthritis that is marked by symptoms that usually come and go. These symptoms include, but are not limited to, chest pain (especially during inhale), fever, hair loss, sores near the mouth, light sensitivity, rash, and swollen lymph nodes. When lupus strikes the spine, symptoms such as headaches, cognitive dysfunction, numbing and tingling in the finger and toes, seizures, psychosis, vision problems, and drastic change in personality, for example, also can arise.

This article is only meant to provide some basic information regarding the various forms of thoracic arthritis and some commonly seen thoracic arthritis symptoms. It is not meant to replace the good advice of your doctor_._


Arthritis Foundation, Back Pain: What is it?:

Arthritis Today, The Arthritis Institute, Getting Back at Back Pain:

J.J. Regan, SpineUniverse, Spinal Arthritis: Symptoms.

Mayo Clinic, Ankylosing spondylitis:

Mayo Clinic, Osteoarthritis:

Medline Plus, National Institutes of Health, Rheumatoid arthritis:

Medline Plus, National Institutes of Health, Systemic lupus erthematosus: