Spine Pain Middle Back and How To Treat It


You’ve arrived at the perfect spot if you need information about how to manage spine pain in the middle back. We will provide you with the latest and greatest tips on topics ranging from exercises to medication.


What Is Middle Back Pain?

Middle back pain is any discomfort or pain felt in the middle back region between the bottom of the rib cage and the top of the lumbar spine. The middle back includes the thoracic spine, which is made up of 12 backbones (or vertebrae) that are positioned in a long bundle from the bottom of the rib cage to the top of the lumbar spine. The spinal cord runs through a canal in the center of these vertebrae and nerves branch out from the spinal cord to innervate different regions of the body.

Middle back pain can have a range of causes, such as muscle strain, lousy posture, arthritis, herniated discs, and spinal stenosis. The treatment for middle back pain will differ based on the cause but might encompass physical therapy, exercises, stretches, and medications.

Symptoms Of Middle Back Pain

The most frequent symptom of middle back pain is an aching sensation that comes and goes. You might also feel your muscles tighten up or experience a burning feeling in your back.

The symptoms can differ from person to person. Some might experience chest pain, while others may have difficulty urinating or controlling their bowels.

These are the more severe symptoms that warrant a trip to see the doctor immediately:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Inability to control your bladder or bowels
  • Weakness or numbness in your legs
  • A fever of over 101 degrees Fahrenheit.

What Causes Middle Back Pain?

Middle back pain can have numerous potential causes, but it is most frequently the aftermath of another injury, such as osteoarthritis, a jolt, blunt force trauma, or a car collision. It might also be due to continual pressure on the spine from heavy objects, or from lousy posture. Prevention is always the best medicine, but if you do experience back pain, there are treatment options available.

The most common cause of middle back pain is an injury to the spine. This can be from a sports injury, a hard fall, or even just from lifting something heavy. The American Association for Orthopaedic Surgeons estimates that about 6 million Americans experience back pain every year trusted source. Of these, about 3 million will seek professional help for their pain.

A thoracic spine injury is one of the most severe causes of middle back pain. This type of injury can cause nerve damage and paralysis. If you think you might have this type of injury, it is crucial to get medical help right away.

The course of treatment for middle back pain will differ based on the source and intensity of the pain. For less severe pains, over-the-counter drugs and home remedies might be sufficient to provide relief. More serious cases may necessitate physical therapy or surgery. If you are experiencing back pain, it is essential to reach out to your doctor to talk about your treatment options.

How Is Middle Back Pain Diagnosed?

To begin diagnosing middle back pain, your doctor will start with a physical exam and go over your symptoms. They will ask about your medical history, including if you have had any other episodes of back pain. Additionally, they will want to know about any recent injuries or illnesses.

Once your doctor has taken your medical history, they will do a physical examination, which could involve testing the strength, sensation, and reflexes in your back and legs. They might also assess your posture and alignment.

There are a few different types of imaging tests that can be used to diagnose conditions or injuries. X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans are all common imaging tests that can provide valuable information about what is going on inside the body.

If your middle back pain is caused by a herniated disc, osteoarthritis, or spinal stenosis, your doctor may request one or more imaging tests to help determine the issue.

These could include:

  • X-rays are used to produce clear images of bones. They can show degenerative changes in the spine, such as arthritis, but they don’t show soft tissues, such as herniated discs.
  • CT scans produce cross-sectional images (known as slices) of the body. They show more detail than X-rays. CT scans can be used to measure bone density and pinpoint problems with soft tissues that don’t appear well on X-rays. CT scans use X-rays, but they take multiple pictures from various angles and then fuse them into comprehensive cross-sections of bone and soft tissue.
  • MRIs are excellent for producing detailed images of both bone and soft tissues, such as disks, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Instead of X-rays, MRIs use strong magnets to create pictures; there is no exposure to radiation involved. MRIs are often used to diagnose herniated discs or prolapsed disks because they provide clear pictures of soft tissues that other imaging tests might miss.
  • Neurological testing can help diagnose conditions and disorders of the nervous system. These tests can assess brain function, muscle strength, and nerve function.

If your doctor believes you might have radiculopathy—nerve compression caused by a herniated disc or spinal stenosis—they may order one or more neurological tests to check nerve function in your legs (if you have radiculopathy in your lower back or lumbar radiculopathy) or arms (if you have radiculopathy in your upper back or thoracic radiculopathy).

Some of the neurological tests used to diagnose nerve compression are:

  • Electromyography (EMG) is a test that measures electrical activity in muscles to help determine if the nerves that serve the muscles are compressed or damaged.
  • During an EMG test, electrodes are inserted through the skin into various muscle groups; electrical activity picked up by the electrodes is displayed on an oscilloscope screen or recorded on audio tape when muscles contract during nerve stimulation.
  • Nerve conduction velocity (NCV) is a test that measures how quickly electrical impulses move along nerves.

Treatment For Middle Back Pain

Back pain is a condition that many people will experience at some point in their lives. Middle back pain is not uncommon, as the spine is especially vulnerable to wear and tear in this area. However, there are many effective treatments for middle back pain, both medical and home remedies.

There are a few different medical treatments that can help with middle back pain. These can be either invasive or noninvasive methods. Usually, the first approach will be to try noninvasive methods like physiotherapy, chiropractic care or massage therapy. If these aren’t effective, then more invasive treatments such as surgery may be an option.

There are also a few home remedies that can be useful for treating middle back pain. These can be simple like ice or heat therapy, or more complicated like yoga or acupuncture. As with medical treatments, it is important to find what works best for you and to follow your treatment plan consistently.

Many people suffer from middle back pain, but there are several treatment options available that can help. If you’re experiencing this type of pain, speak to your doctor to learn about what the best course of action is for you.

Home Remedies

There are a few things you can do at home for both immediate relief and long-term solutions to prevent middle back pain.

If you have a desk job, make sure your chair supports your lower back and that your computer monitor is at eye level. Position your mouse so you don’t have to reach for it. Get up and stretch or walk around every 30 minutes to keep your back muscles from getting too tight.

Middle back pain is often the result of bad posture. Your back muscles have to overcompensate when you slouch, which can then lead to pain and discomfort. To practice good posture, stand tall and keep your shoulders down and relaxed. When sitting, don’t slump over in your chair. Use a small pillow or rolled-up towel to support your lower back.

Get up and move around or stretch frequently if you have to sit or stand for long periods of time. Ice can also help with reducing inflammation and pain. You may also find relief from over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve).

Medical Treatment

If you experience mild to moderate spine pain in your middle back, there are a number of things you can do at home for relief. Over-the-counter and prescription medications may help, as can certain exercises and other lifestyle changes.

If your pain is more severe, or if home remedies aren’t providing relief, you may need to seek medical treatment. Your options will depend on the underlying cause of your pain but may include muscle relaxers, physical therapy, chiropractic care, steroid injections, and prescription pain medication.

If your spine’s bones or disks are causing you chronic pain, a doctor may need to operate. However, if you’re only dealing with occasional back pain, working with a spine specialist can help you find the best way to treat your individual condition and get relief.


Middle back pain is commonly caused by a herniated disk, degenerative disk disease, or muscle strain. These conditions can be treated conservatively with physical therapy or other methods over several months, or through surgery.

Laminotomy: This is a surgery to take the pressure off of the spinal cord or nerves by taking out a part of the lamina, or back wall, of a vertebra. A laminotomy might be done as part of a bigger surgery, like a laminectomy (explained below) or diskectomy (explained below), or it could be done by itself.

A diskectomy is a surgery to take out herniated disk material that is putting pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. The surgeon will go into your spine through a cut in your back and carefully take out the herniated disk material. A diskectomy might also be called a partial diskectomy or an anterior Diskectomy.

Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure used to fix issues with the bones and joints in the spine. The bones are joined together during spinal fusion so they can heal into one solid unit. Metal plates, rods, screws, and/or bone grafts may be used in spinal fusion.

This surgical procedure, called artificial disk replacement, involves replacing a damaged intervertebral disk with an artificial one. The surgeon removes the damaged disk and replaces it with an artificial disk made of metal and plastic.

How To Prevent Middle Back Pain

You can take many measures to avoid experiencing middle back pain. For example, if you have a desk job, be sure that your chair is at the right height and your desk is at eye level. Additionally, sit up straight with your shoulders back to maintain good posture and spine health.

It’s important to get up and move around every 30 minutes or so. Taking a walk, stretching, or doing some other form of physical activity will help keep your muscles and spine mobile and reduce the risk of pain.

If you’re already in pain, consult a physical therapist. They can put together a workout routine that will help stretch and strengthen the muscles in your back. This can alleviate pain and stop further damage from occurring.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are many possible causes of pain in the middle of the back, including muscle strain, a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and scoliosis.

There are many possible treatments for middle back pain, depending on the underlying cause. Some possible treatments include rest, ice or heat therapy, gentle stretches, over-the-counter pain medication, and massage. If the pain is severe or does not improve with self-care, it is important to see a doctor or other healthcare provider for further evaluation and treatment.

There are many possible symptoms of middle back pain. They can include a dull ache, sharp pain, muscle stiffness, and difficulty moving.

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Although a lot of people experience back pain at some stage in their lives, it is not usually severe and will go away eventually. However, you should see a doctor if the pain is intense or lasts for more than a couple of days.

There are various potential reasons for middle back pain, including muscle strain, a sports injury, or spending too much time sitting or standing. In other instances, the pain might be indicative of a more severe issue, such as an infection or tumor.

After the root of the pain has been pinpointed, there are plenty of treatment methods to choose from. For example, you could take over-the-counter pain medication to lessen inflammation and discomfort. In other instances, physical therapy or massage might be recommended. Surgery is hardly ever needed.


Spine Institute NY