Your Guide to Middle Back Pain Causes; Can a Chiropractor Help?
Middle back pain commonly refers to back pain and discomfort in the thoracic or mid back spine.
This is the region beneath the neck above and the lower back. The thoracic spine attaches to 12 ribs that protect vital organs. There are 12 disc and various organs, muscles, ligaments and tendons. Nearly all of these structures can become irritated, inflamed, and damaged to cause pain.
Common Causes of Middle Back Pain
There are numerous causes of middle back pain. We’ll go through some of the most common causes of middle back pain and what they may feel like.
1. Poor Posture
One of the most common causes of middle back pain is poor posture. This is due to the tremendous amount of time we spend on devices, sitting, computer and desk work. This elongates the muscles of the mid back making them inefficient causing muscle fatigue. This muscle fatigue causes weak, overused and tight muscles. The pain is often times more of a dull ache that is temporarily alleviated by rubbing or massaging the muscles. Not only will this lead to mid back pain, it can also lead to shoulder and arm pain. This is a common condition that benefits from Chiropractic Care.
2. Rib Sprain
Rib sprains are a common conditions seen with coughing, sneezing, lifting throwing, and high velocity rotational maneuvers such as golfing and gymnastics. This condition is very different than a rib dislocation or a rib fracture. With a rib sprain, there is usually sharp, knife like stabbing middle back pain near the spine. A palpable bump may be felt over the injured area due to local swelling and muscle spasms. Some practitioners and patients may over simplify this condition and attribute it to a misplaced rib but that usually isn’t the case. This type of back pain is made worse when trying to take a deep breath or when direct pressure is applied to the injured area. Treatment of a rib sprain responds very favorably to regaining proper motion of the rib and vertebrae complex through Chiropractic adjustments. Treatment that couples exercise that encourages strength, mobility, and stability can be very beneficial.
There are numerous types of arthritis that can cause mid back pain. One of the most common type of arthritis that causes pain is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused from poor mechanics that over time wear down joints and discs causing them to rub together leading to inflammation, swelling, pain and stiffness. This type of mid back pain is usually a dull pain and worse with long periods of inactivity. The pain is often relieved my restoring motion and exercises which Chiropractors commonly treat.
4. Disc Herniation
Herniated discs are fairly rare in the mid back and are more likely to be found in the lower back. They occur as a result of trauma such as a sports injury or a car accident. Discs that are located between the vertebrae in the middle back act as shock-absorbing cushions. They also help vertebrae stick together like forming a strong ligament. These disks are filled with liquid and can rupture or bulge outward. This is known as a disc protrusion, herniation, or ruptured disk. This disc injury releases pro-inflammatory molecules that can create pain and may put pressure on the surrounding nerves. A disc herniation may not always cause symptoms, but it may result in pain, numbness, tingling, and loss of strength. Some middle back disc herniations are worse than others and they usually respond favorably to conservative Chiropractic management and a specific corrective exercise routine.
5. Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are deposits of calcium and salts inside the kidney. This pain is often felt on the flanks or just beneath the ribcage. This pain is often unrelieved by changes in position and may also be accompanied with fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and difficult or painful urination. If you have any of these other symptoms it may indicate a kidney infection and medical attention may be necessary.
6. Spine Cancer or Tumor
Tumors of the spine and spinal cancers are rare but they do need to be addressed. This type of pain is usually a deep, boring pain that isn’t easily pin pointed and isn’t greatly affected with postural changes. This type of non-mechanical back pain especially in the middle or lower back, is the most frequent symptom of both benign and malignant spinal tumors. This type of middle back pain is not specifically attributed to injury, stress or physical activity. However, the pain may increase with activity and is often worse at night.
Middle back pain caused by scoliosis is fairly common but may not show up until later in life. That’s because most abnormal curvatures of the spine may go undetected throughout childhood and not diagnosed until adulthood when symptoms present. The pain caused by scoliosis is often relieved through certain motions and postural changes. The abnormal curvature puts stress and strain on muscles, ligaments, joints, tendons, discs, and nerves that may result in middle back pain. Early intervention is critical for middle back pain caused by scoliosis. Young spines are more malleable and easily changed and than older spines. If you or your child is showing signs of:
- uneven foot wear patterns
- uneven hip height
- shoulder blade asymmetry
- uneven shoulder height
- rib humping
- abnormal head tilt
If you notice any of these signs of scoliosis, seek an opinion from a licensed professional who is well versed in scoliosis treatment and management.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t wait as they will likely get worse and require more involved treatment. Call or visit your local practitioner and get an evaluation.