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Diagnosing and Treating Upper Back/Thoracic Pain with Dr. Scott Otis
Episode 3022nd February 2021 • Back Talk Doc • Sanjiv Lakhia - Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates
00:00:00 00:26:06

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We have addressed numerous aspects of low back pain from surgical angles to medications, nutrition, and injections on the podcast, but an increasing number of patients are also suffering from mid-back pain or “thoracic pain.”

On this episode of Back Talk Doc, Dr. Sanjiv Lakhia is joined by Dr. Scott Otis, a physiatrist at the Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates, to discuss thoracic back pain. Dr. Otis attended medical school at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and completed his internship at Riverside Hospital in Columbus. Dr. Otis is currently affiliated with the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehab. An expert in electro-diagnostic medicine and interventional spine care, Dr. Otis works out of the main office in Charlotte.

Dr. Otis reveals why thoracic back pain is so challenging to diagnose, any pain experienced in that area of the body are often compensatory issues from neck or low back issues or referral pain from neck and low back issues that present as thoracic spine pain. (4:45) He also discusses non-spinal issues that cause pain and abnormalities, including GI issues, pulmonary and heart ailments, and liver disease. (07:34) The Doctors also cover other ailments including “White Collar Disease” (09:35), poor body posture, and how poor ergonomics in furniture lead to upper back pain. (09:18)

Dr. Otis also examines the methods physiatrists employ to evaluate back pain and stress the importance of ruling out non-spinal causes before arriving at a proper diagnosis. (10:30) Thoracic back pain treatment includes self-care, physical therapy, and in a few extreme cases, surgical intervention. (13:05)

 More topics discussed on this episode include:

  • The effects of Scoliosis and osteoporosis (15:03)
  • How to prevent osteoporotic fractures (16:33)
  • The role of physical therapy in treating upper back pain (18:33)

If you enjoyed this episode of Back Talk Doc, check out our recent episode A Pain in the Neck (and Back!): How Technology, Stress, and Genetics are Leading to Aches and Pains With Dr. Sameer Vemuri

For more information on Dr. Sanjiv Lakhia and the podcast visit

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 Back Talk Doc is brought to you by Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, with offices in North and South Carolina. To learn more about Dr. Lakhia and treatment options for back and spine issues, go to To schedule an appointment with Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, you can call us at 1-800-344-6716 or visit our website at