Body map Chest/upper body pain

Chest/upper body pain

The chest (or upper body) is the area between your neck and abdomen (belly). It includes your ribcage, heart and lungs, and all the connective tissues that support this region and connect to the spine. Plenty of muscles, joints and other structures that can cause pain or injury.

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Common upper body condition in osteopathy

The muscles in and around the chest help with movement of the upper body, arms and neck, but also with vital functions like breathing.

In such a complex area, it is very common for people to experience pain or discomfort in these bones, joints and tissues, for a variety of reasons.

Osteos are trained to manage a broad range of conditions affecting your chest including:

  • Problems with the muscles and other structures in and around the ribcage, such as rib sprain
  • Muscle and joint pain relief for people with breathing conditions, or those recovering from respiratory illnesses
Patient resources

Watch Osteopathy Australia member Rosalba Courtney tell us about the importance of the diaphragm for breathing:


What the evidence says
  • Manual diaphragm therapy has shown an immediate significant effect on parameters related to costal (ribs), spinal, and posterior (back) muscle chain mobility (Fernandez-Lopez 2021).
  • Some studies suggest that manual therapies may be useful for non-specific thoracic pain. However, more high quality trials are needed (Vantia 2008).
  • While osteopaths do not treat asthma directly, a pilot study found that manual therapy on the diaphragm, such as stretching, may improve mobility and flexibility in patients with asthma (Leones-Macias 2018).


Fernandez-Lopez I et al. Effects of Manual Therapy on the Diaphragm in the Musculoskeletal System: A Systematic Review. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. Dec;102(12):2402-2415.

Vantia C et al. 2008. Manual therapy for non-specific thoracic pain in adults: review of the literature. Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation 2008;21(3):143-152

Leones-Macias E et al. 2018. Effects of manual therapy on the diaphragm in asthmatic patients: a randomized pilot study. International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine 2018 Sep;29:26-31