What Causes Pain in the Middle of the Back?

What causes middle back pain? What is it a sign of? Is it a serious situation? Do you need to see a doctor? What to do to pass? How is the treatment? What’s good? You can find the answers to all these questions and much more below.

What is pain in the middle of the back?

Pain in the middle of the back is any type of pain or discomfort in the area between your upper and lower back. Doctors refer to this area as the lower thoracic region or lower thoracic spine. The upper thoracic region, or upper thoracic spine, forms part of the upper back. The lumbar spine forms part of the lower back. The middle back is made up of the spine, spinal cord, nerves, discs, muscles, blood vessels, ligaments, and tendons.

Any of the above-named structures in the spine or back can become irritated or inflamed in response to a variety of mild to severe conditions. Causes of pain hitting the middle of the back include sports injuries, incorrect posture, arthritis, muscle strain , and car accident injuries. Pain in the middle of the back can be classified as short-term or chronic if it lasts longer than three months.

Pain in the middle of the back can also be defined as a dull, irritating pain, or an acute pain that feels like a sharp knife . The pain may spread to other parts of your body. It can also be the other way around; pain caused by a problem elsewhere in your body may radiate to your middle back.

In some cases, acute back pain may improve within a few weeks with basic self-care measures, but in some cases it can be permanent and lead to more serious problems over time. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of pain in the middle of the back can help control symptoms and reduce the risk of complications such as disability.

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If your pain is severe, persistent, or worries you, you should seek medical attention. In some cases, the underlying cause of mid-back pain can be life-threatening. If you have chest pain with pain in the middle of the back , difficulty breathing, loss of urine or stool control, or numbness in the arms or legs , call 911 or go to the emergency room.

What causes pain in the middle of the back?

The middle back is made up of the thoracic spine (bony structures called vertebrae that surround the nerves of the spinal cord). Between the vertebrae are sacs of spongy cartilage called discs that act as cushions and provide a range of motion to the back . Muscles, tendons and ligaments provide additional support. Any of these structures in the back can become irritated or inflamed in response to a variety of mild to severe conditions .

A common cause of mild to severe pain in the thoracic spine is a sudden movement during sports activities or similar movements. People who normally lead a relatively sedentary lifestyle are at risk for this type of strain and sprain.

Pain in the middle of the back can also be caused by more serious conditions, such as fibromyalgia, spondylitis (infection or inflammation of the spinal joints), or a herniated disc . A bulging disc can also put pressure on the nerve roots coming out of the spine, causing middle back pain.

A problem in another part of the body, such as the heart or digestive organs, can also trigger middle back pain. If middle back pain originates from another body area or organ in another body area, it is called indirect back pain .

Conditions that can cause pain in the middle of the back

Pain in the middle of the back can be caused by diseases and disorders of the bones and tissues in the back, including:

  • Osteoarthritis (calcification of bones)
  • Osteomyelitis (infection or inflammation of the bones)
  • Osteoporosis (thinning and weakening of bones)
  • Paget’s disease (abnormal bone tissue loss and reformation)
  • Spinal degeneration (degenerative disc disease, also called spondylosis)
  • Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal, pressure on the spinal cord or nerves)
  • Spondylitis (infection or inflammation of the spinal cord joints)

Structural causes of pain in the middle of the back

Pain that hits the middle of the back can be caused by injury or misalignment of the bones and tissues in the back, including:

  • herniated disc
  • Kyphosis (abnormal curvature of the upper spine and hump)
  • muscle spasm
  • Scoliosis (sideward curvature of the spine)
  • Benign or malignant spinal tumor
  • spine fracture
  • Sprains and strains due to overuse or injury
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Other possible causes of pain in the middle of the back

Middle back pain can be caused by systemic problems or problems affecting other body systems, which in some cases can be serious or life-threatening. These include:

  • aortic aneurysm
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Heart attack
  • Indigestion
  • kidney stones
  • multiple myeloma
  • Pancreatitis
  • Abdominal malignancy

Who is at risk for pain in the middle of the back?

While anyone can experience middle back pain, there are certain risk factors that increase your odds of experiencing it. Middle back pain can occur at any age, but it most often begins between the ages of 30 and 50. With the increasing age of the spine and related tissues, activities associated with this age group are the most effective factors in back pain.

Risk factors for pain in the middle of the back include:

  • Advanced age
  • Congenital (present at birth) or acquired back deformities
  • Family history of back pain or illness
  • Obesity
  • wrong posture
  • Pregnancy
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • To smoke
  • stress and anxiety
  • weak abdominal muscles

What are the symptoms that may accompany the pain in the middle of the back?

Middle back pain symptoms depend on the underlying disease, disorder, or condition. For example, if your back pain is caused by arthritis , you may feel pain in other joints of your body. Back pain from nerve compression can lead to loss of urinary control . Also, middle back pain is a major symptom of fibromyalgia, which is often characterized by fatigue and sleep problems .

Other symptoms that may accompany pain in the middle of the back include:

  • anxiety and worry
  • Depression
  • Tiredness
  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Back stiffness in the morning
  • Redness, warmth, or swelling in the back
  • Shoulder, neck or hip pain
  • sleep problems

Serious symptoms that may indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, mid-back pain may occur with other symptoms that may indicate a serious or life-threatening condition, such as a heart attack or cauda equina syndrome (a syndrome in which the nerves in the spinal cord are compressed or paralyzed). If you have pain in the middle of your back along with any of the following symptoms, you should seek emergency medical attention immediately.

  • chest pain, tightness, or pressure
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • jaw pain
  • Loss of urine or stool control
  • severe abdominal pain
  • Weakness, paralysis or numbness in the legs

How is the cause of pain in the middle of the back diagnosed?

You should visit your doctor to get a diagnosis for the condition causing your middle back pain. Your doctor may use the following to help them diagnose:

physical examination

During the physical exam, your doctor will look at your spine, head, pelvis, abdomen, arms, and legs. If you’ve had an accident , emergency responders may also wear a medical device around your neck to stabilize the spine during this exam.

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Various tests

Your doctor will likely do some tests to help them make a diagnosis. These include neurological and imaging tests. Neurological testing will examine the function of the brain and spinal cord. During this test, your doctor may ask you to wiggle your toes or fingers. This can indicate the condition of the spinal cord and nerve endings. Imaging tests produce pictures of the inside of your body. They can reveal fractures, bone degeneration, or other causes of mid-back pain.

Various tests to diagnose the cause of pain in the middle of the back include:

  • X-ray
  • computed tomography
  • MRI scan
  • ultrasound

The above imaging tests will allow your doctor to see any damage to your spine and determine an appropriate course of treatment.

How is pain in the middle of the back treated?

Middle back pain treatment depends on the cause of the pain. Because back pain is so common, most people first try to treat it using simple home remedies. If home remedies don’t help your symptoms, medical treatments or surgery may be needed.

Treatments that can be applied at home

There are several methods you can do at home to treat middle back pain, such as:

  • Ice the area and then apply heat. This is one of the most common methods that can provide instant relief.
  • Consider taking over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen to reduce swelling and pain .
  • Stretch and strengthen the back muscles by doing exercises like yoga.

You can also try to improve your posture as follows to help relieve back pain.

  • Avoid bending over.
  • Keep your shoulders back while standing.
  • If you sit for a long time, take standing breaks.
  • If you have a desk job, adjusting your chair and computer monitor height, keyboard and mouse position can provide good posture.

medical treatments

If your back pain lasts for more than 72 hours and home remedies do not relieve the pain, you should see your doctor. Medical treatments your doctor may recommend may include:

  • Physiotheraphy
  • Prescription pain relievers or muscle relaxants
  • chiropractic care
  • steroid injections

Surgical procedures

If the other treatments above don’t help the middle back pain, your doctor may recommend surgery. There are a number of different procedures that can help your back pain, depending on the cause. Recovery after surgery may take several months.

Some possible surgeries include:

  • Laminectomy: This surgery removes the entire lamina or the back wall of a vertebra to open the spinal cord.
  • Laminotomy: This procedure removes part of the lamina to relieve a pinched nerve.
  • Discectomy: This surgery removes part of a spinal disc to relieve a pinched nerve.

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