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Longissimus Thoracis Muscle: Low Back Pain

The longissimus thoracis is a muscle in the back. Trigger points in the muscle contribute to pain in the low back and buttock area. Pain is often more intense at the top of the hip or the bottom of the buttock.

Contents of Article

    Where is the longissimus thoracis muscle?


    The longissimus thoracis is a muscle found in the back.  It attaches the low back (lumbar) vertebrae to the upper and middle back (thoracic) vertebrae and to the lower six ribs.


    For detailed muscle anatomy visit Longissimus Thoracis Anatomy

    What movements does it control?

    • Straightens (extends) the back (vertebral column)
    • Twists (rotates) the backside to side
    • Side bending (lateral flexion)
    • Tilting the pelvis
    • Assists to maintain the spinal curve
    • Assists with breathing by drawing the ribs downward


    Longissimus Thoracis Muscle Trigger Points Symptoms:

    Longissimus Thoracis Referred Pain Pattern
    • Pain in the back starting at the bottom of the rib cage descending into the buttocks. Pain is often more significant at the bottom of the buttock.
    • Pain in the back starting at the bottom of the rib cage descending to the top of the hip. Pain is often more significant at the top of the hip and top of the buttock.
    • Difficulty standing when rising from a sitting position

    TWD Recommends

    If you have low back pain or need abdominal support, the Professional’s Choice Back Brace will help reduce your pain and stiffness. The waist wrap and two side straps are easily adjusted and provide support compression to the low back and abdomen. Pro-Choice is the only low back brace TWD recommends because it works!

    An Excellent Gel For Pain Relief

    Sombra Warm Therapy warms and relaxes muscles without the burning heat of other heating creams/gels. Apply Sombra to the back muscles to help relax the muscles and reduce your pain.

    Activities that cause longissimus thoracis muscle pain:

    • Bending and twisting when lifting
    • Straining when trying to lift something too heavy
    • Whiplash of the lower back
    • Extended periods of sitting in a car or plane

    Longissimus Thoracis Trigger Point Treatment

    If you are interested in treating back pain caused by trigger points, The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook explains the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language. The diagrams and step-by-step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain, how to find the trigger point, and treat it. It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn, you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body. Relieving trigger points have helped many people resolve their back and hip pain issues.

    If you get the workbook, you will need a tool to help you reach and massage the middle and lower back. The first recommended tool is a massage ball. You place the ball between the back muscles and the wall, using your body to apply pressure and roll the ball to massage the back.

    The other recommended tool is the Thera Cane Massager. The cane is useful and is used to treat many muscles throughout the body that cannot be reached, like muscles in the back, the glutes, and even the bottom of the feet. The cane can be used standing or sitting and is recommended for people with balance or mobility issues.

    TWD Recommends: Back Strain Injuries

    Note: If you have a back strain injury, it is recommended that you use cold therapy during the acute phase of the injury. Once the swelling and inflammation have reduced, you should alternate cold and warm treatments.

    TWD Recommends

    Cureve Hot Cold Pack can be used for warm and cold treatments. It is recommended that cold packs be applied for 20-minutes after a TrP treatment. Use a warm treatment when the muscle is tight and needs to relax.

    To prolong the effects of the cold pack, use Biofreeze Cooling Gel. Biofreeze works like ice in that it cools the area and may help reduce inflammation. Rub the gel into the back 15-20 minutes after removing the ice pack. It can be applied up to 3 times a day for pain relief. Biofreeze is used and recommended by therapists and doctors for musculoskeletal injuries and pain.

    Interesting facts about the longissimus thoracis muscle

    • The longissimus thoracis, along with the iliocostalis and the spinalis muscle groups, is the mound of muscles that are felt running down beside the spine. They serve as a checkrein when you bend over and allow you to straighten back to a standing position.
    • It is also known as the longissimus dorsi muscle.

    Clinical diagnoses to which the longissimus thoracis muscle symptoms may contribute:

    • Sprain/Strain Syndrome
    • Herniated disc
    • Bulging disc
    • Prolapsed disc
    • Degenerative disc disease
    • Lumbar Spine Hyperlordosis
    • Thoracic Spine Hyperkyphosis
    • Sciatica
    • Scoliosis
    • Stenosis
    • Ankylosing Spondylitis
    • Rib Subluxation (Slipping Rib Syndrome)
    • Hip Pointer
    • Dislocated Hip
    • Pulled Hamstring
    • Cauda Equina Syndrome
    • Gynecological Disorders
    • Prostrate Disorders


    Other muscles that should be considered and examined:

    Satellite trigger points associated with the muscle:

    If you find trigger points in the longissimus thoracis you will want to check these muscles for additional trigger points.

    • Latissimus dorsi
    • Quadratus lumborum
    • Serratus posterior superior
    • Serratus posterior inferior
    • Psoas major



    TWD Recommends

    A lumpy or too soft mattress wreaks havoc on the body. It can cause pain throughout the body and is especially hard on the lower back.
    The Casper Sleep Essential is firm but has enough softness to provide support. It is recommended to those who like a firm but not a hard mattress.
    The Snuggle-Pedic Mattress is not as firm as the Casper but provides needed support. It is recommended for those who need support but prefers a softer feel.

    Muscles With Similar Pain Patterns

    Iliocostalis Thoracis
    Iliocostalis Lumborum
    Quadratus Lumborum
    Piriformis Muscle