Americans spend at least $50 billion annually on back pain treatments, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Today’s fast-paced lifestyles take their toll on human backs. Currently in the United States, back pain is the number one cause of disability in people between ages 19 and 45. It is the second leading cause of absence from work.
Mid back pain is not as common as lower back pain, but mid back pain may be worse when it does occur. Affecting the thoracic area of the back, mid back pain is more likely to be agonizing and intolerable than is lower back pain.
Mid Back Pain Location
Mid back pain is more technically termed thoracic back pain.
Your back consists of 30 small bones called vertebrae. These bones are stacked on top of each other, and connected by ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Your stack of connected vertebrae is divided into four regions. From the base of your skull down to your pelvis, these four regions are:
- Cervical vertebrae – the top 7
- Thoracic vertebrae – the next 12
- Lumbar vertebrae – 5 more
- Sacrum and coccyx – 6 fused bones at the spine’s base
Mid back pain occurs in the second region – the thoracic vertebrae.
Mid Back Pain Causes
Mid back pain is most likely to be caused by one or more of these:
- injury or trauma to the muscles and ligaments of the thoracic area
- scoliosis (curvature of the spine)
- habitually poor posture
- lack of adequate exercise
- lack of muscle conditioning
- repetitive torsal motions
- too much sitting
- past injuries that haven’t healed well
- improper lifting techniques
Look briefly at those factors.
- Mid back pain can be caused by injury or trauma to the thoracic area. Extensive injury can occur if the back is moved or twisted in the wrong way. If you are lifting something, and you do so with a sharp twist to the action, you may pull a muscle, or tear a ligament in the back. Mid back pain will result.
- Mid back pain can result from curvature of the spine. Pain is not usually a symptom of scoliosis in adolescents, but scoliosis patients can experience a muscular type of mid back pain. Such mid back pain occurs because the muscles on the outside of the curve are working overtime trying to control the curve. When muscles are overworked, they hurt. Mid back pain results.
- Habitually poor posture is another potential cause of mid back pain. Poor posture puts the nerves of your thoracic region under stress. They send a pain message to the brain, and you have mid back pain.
- Mid back pain can occur when the back gets too little exercise. Adequate exercise is needed to keep the back strong. As with all of the body’s muscles, your back muscles need to be strong to support your back and avoid mid back pain.
- Lack of muscle conditioning is a part of exercise. Remember to stretch your back slowly to warm up the muscles before undertaking an activity. Condition them further with exercise, and then cool down.
- Repetitive torsal motions are fine as long as they are not excessive. When you begin doing the same motion with your back over and over, you are asking for mid back pain.
- Those who spend many hours at a desk, in front of the computer, or sitting in front of the television set are likely to develop mid back pain. The back needs to move in order to maintain health.
- Mid back pain is very likely to occur if you strain old back injuries that have not yet completely healed. Give them time.
- Improper lifting techniques frequently cause injury and mid back pain. Learn proper lifting techniques, and use them consistently.
Mid Back Pain Treatment
If mid back pain is intense, your doctor may prescribe painkillers. You may visit a chiropractor for an adjustment. Or you may rest for a few days, alternating between heating pad application and an ice pack. It is important to follow your doctor’s advice, and treat the pain immediately. Ignoring mid back pain can lead to extensive and long-term problems such as nerve degeneration, joint, disk, and spine deterioration.