Understanding why the thoracic region is the ‘Cinderella’ region of the spine

N.R. Heneghan, A. Rushton

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16 Citations (Scopus)
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The thoracic spine has for a long time been the ‘Cinderella’ region of the spine. There has been a lesser research focus to the thoracic region compared with the cervical and lumbar spine, and there continues to be a limited understanding of the aetiology and epidemiology of a range of neuromusculoskeletal presentations which have an anatomical connection to the thoracic spine. This paper firstly, provides a critical evaluation of the available evidence to provide some understanding for this under-exploration of the thoracic spine. Secondly the paper provides an evaluation of an emerging interest in this spinal region, with a body of evidence supporting the use of thoracic spine manipulation in the management of upper quadrant presentations. This has been linked to the theory of regional interdependence with the thoracic spine being viewed as a silent contributor to clinical presentations where a pain source lies elsewhere. Finally, a case for further research is made. Identified gaps in the current evidence base include, aetiology and epidemiology of thoracic spine pain and thoracic spine dysfunction, and to investigate mechanisms of action of currently used interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-276
Number of pages3
JournalManual Therapy
Early online date9 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


  • Thoracic spine dysfunction
  • Professional issue
  • Regional interdependence


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