Middle back pain spans a wide area and includes the part of your back that extends below the base of your neck all the way to the bottom of your rib cage. This part of your back is referred to as your thoracic spine and it includes vertebrae aka back bones T1 to T12. The ribs are integral to this region of your back. They are attached between your breast bone (the flat bone on your chest), called the sternum, and wrap around towards the back where they attach to the vertebrae of your thoracic spine. There are many muscles and soft tissues that connect to your rib cage including but not limited to your diaphragm, your lats, pecs and obliques. Muscle imbalances in these muscles as well as issues with mobility in your rib cage can all lead to pain in this region of your back.
Unfortunately, this type of back pain is becoming increasingly more prevalent as a result of people living more sedentary lifestyles and spending many hours a day sitting in front of a computer screen. The most common causes for developing mid-back pain include: prolonged poor postures, myofascial pain, overuse injuries that involve twisting or turning excessively through this part of your spine as well as osteoarthritis and herniated discs in the thoracic spine. In rare cases, upper back pain can be related to gallbladder disease, cancer or infection.
Mid-back pain can be very uncomfortable. It can be dull, burning or sharp in nature depending on what structures or tissues are most affected. It can also be associated with muscle tightness or joint stiffness. Additionally, mid-back pain can sometimes worsen when you take a deep breath, cough or twist and turn.
A variety of treatment strategies can alleviate pain in the mid-back region. Manual therapy can be very effective especially if the joints, muscles and/or other soft tissues are generating the pain. Manual therapies include massage, myofascial release, joint mobilizations, nerve mobilizations and/or joint manipulation. Exercise can also be effective at relieving mid-back discomfort. Specific exercises can help to improve flexibility of tight structures, mobility of stiff joints and strengthening areas of weakness. All of these exercises can improve your overall posture and stimulate your postural muscles to be more active in daily life. Your massage therapist and/or physiotherapist can guide you in an individualized rehab exercise program. In general, mid back pain is a very manageable condition and should be treated. Don’t just lie on it, be proactive and take care of your back! Contact us today to set up an appointment.
Written By: Giuliano Calleri – Registered Massage Therapist at Rebalance