What Causes Sharp Pain in the Middle of Back?

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably experienced sharp pain in the middle of your back at some point. But what exactly causes this pain? There are actually a few different things that can cause sharp pain in the middle of your back. It could be something as simple as poor posture or a muscle spasm. Or, it could be something more serious like a herniated disc or spinal stenosis.


Common Causes

There are many specific causes of back pain, but the most common cause is a mechanical problem with the spine. The spine is a column of bones that support the upper body, and it’s made up of many interconnected parts. When any one of these parts is not working properly, it can cause pain in the back.

One of the most common causes of sharp back pain is a herniated disc. This occurs when the soft inner part of a disc bulges out through a tear in the outer part of the disc. This can put pressure on nerves and cause pain.

Other common causes of back pain include:

  • Degenerative disc disease: This occurs when the discs between the vertebrae degenerate or break down over time.
  • Facet joint syndrome: This occurs when the facet joints, which are located between each vertebra, become inflamed.
  • Osteoarthritis: This is a type of arthritis that occurs when the cartilage between joints breaks down over time.
  • Spinal stenosis: This occurs when the spinal canal narrows, putting pressure on the spinal cord.


As we age, it’s common to experience occasional back pain. This is often caused by the wear and tear on our bones and spinal joints from years of use. For older adults, back pain is also more likely due to reduced muscle mass and the natural causes of aging.

However, many people experience sharp pain in the middle of their back that is unrelated to these common causes. If you are experiencing this type of pain, it’s important to see a doctor or other medical professional to rule out any serious conditions.


Arthritis is a general term for a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that affect joints, the tissues that surround the joint, and other connective tissue.

Some forms of arthritis are caused by problems with the immune system. These conditions include rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). RA is a chronic condition that can lead to disability. JIA is the most common form of arthritis in children.

Other forms of arthritis are caused by wear and tear on the joints, such as osteoarthritis (OA). OA is the most common form of arthritis in the United States. It affects more than 27 million adults.

There are many different types of arthritis, each with different symptoms and causes. Treatment depends on the type of arthritis and its severity. In some cases, treatment can control symptoms and help you manage your pain.

Fractured Vertebrae

Fractured vertebrae are a common cause of sharp pain in the middle back. A vertebra is a small, round bone that makes up the spine. The spinal cord runs through the middle of the spine, and vertebrae protect it. When a vertebra is fractured, it can cause extreme deterioration and intense pain.

There are many causes of fractured vertebrae, including automobile crashes, sports injuries, and falling down stairs. Symptoms of a fractured vertebra include sharp back pain, trouble moving, and weakness or numbness in the legs. Treatment for a fractured vertebra usually involves wearing a brace or having surgery to repair the damage.

Muscle Spasm

One possible cause of sharp pain in the middle of the back is a muscle spasm. A muscle spasm is a prolonged contraction of a muscle. Muscle spasms can occur in any muscle, but they are most common in the back muscles.

One reason that back muscle spasms may occur is because of injury to the muscle. When a muscle is injured, it may go into spasm in order to protect itself from further injury. However, even if there is no apparent injury to the muscle, it may still go into spasm. This can happen when the muscle is overworked or when it is exposed to cold temperatures.

Muscle spasms can be very painful. They can also cause the muscle to become weak and unable to function properly. If you have a muscle spasm, you should see a doctor so that he or she can determine the cause and give you treatment to relieve your pain and help your muscle recover.

Herniated Disk

One common cause of sharp back pain is a herniated disk. A disk becomes herniated when its inner, soft portion leaks out through a tear in the outer, tough portion. Disks act as cushions between the vertebrae, or bones, of your spine. A herniated disk can occur when you lift heavy objects or after an injury, such as a car accident. It can also be the result of an aging spine that’s lost some of the water content in the disks, making them less flexible and more likely to tear.

A bulging disk is similar to a herniated disk, but with a bulging disk, the inner portion bulges only slightly and doesn’t leak out. Many people have bulging disks and don’t even know it because they don’t experience any symptoms.

Sharp back pain is the most common symptom of a herniated or bulging disk. The pain may radiate from your lower back into your buttock and down your leg. This is called sciatica. You’re most likely to feel it on only one side of your body. The pain usually gets worse when you cough, sneeze or sit for long periods of time. You might also have numbness or tingling in your leg or foot.

A herniated disk can be caused by excessive strain on your back, such as from lifting heavy objects or engaging in overly strenuous activity. Improper lifting techniques can also lead to a herniated disk. For example, if you round your back when lifting something instead of keeping it straight, you’re more likely to herniate a disk. A ruptured disk can also occur if you experience a sudden impact, such as from a car accident.

If you have sharp back pain, it’s important to see your doctor so he or she can diagnose the cause and recommend treatment options. Treatment for a herniated disk may include rest, ice and heat therapy, exercises, and physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the spine. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove part of the disk or repair it.

Compression Fracture

A compression fracture in the spine happens when one or more of the bones in the spine collapses. This can be caused by a car accident, a fall, or other trauma. It can also happen if the spine’s bones are weakened by disease, such as cancer.

Compression fractures can be very painful. The pain is usually felt in the middle of the back and is often described as being very sharp. The pain may get worse with coughing, sneezing, or sitting for long periods of time.

If you have a compression fracture, your doctor may recommend rest, ice, and pain relievers to help relieve your symptoms. You may also need to wear a brace or have surgery to stabilize the bone.


A sharp pain in the middle of your back can have many causes, ranging from a muscle sprain to a rib fracture. In some cases, the pain is caused by an infection.

If you have a sharp pain in your back that is accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, chills, or difficulty breathing, it could be a sign of an infection. Infections of the spine are rare but can be very serious. If you think you might have an infection, seek medical attention immediately.

Other Causes of Sharp Back Pain

There are other causes of sharp back pain that are not related to muscle strain or injury. These can include kidney infection, which is a very serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Other symptoms of a kidney infection include fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting. If you have any of these symptoms in addition to sharp back pain, seek medical help immediately.

Sometimes, the apparent cause of sharp back pain is actually very minor, while the real underlying cause is something more serious. For example, a small muscle strain might cause some back pain, but if you also have progressive weakness and loss of bladder control, these could be signs of a spinal cord injury, which is a much more serious condition. This is why it’s always best to see a medical officer such as an MD for an accurate diagnosis.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are many potential causes of burning pain in the middle of the back, including muscle strain, a herniated disc, and spinal stenosis.

The most common cause of pain in the upper middle back is muscle strain. Other causes include herniated disks, pinched nerves, and arthritis.

There are many possible treatments for middle back pain, depending on the underlying cause. Some possible treatments include ice or heat therapy, physical therapy, massage, pain medication, and chiropractic care.

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There are many possible causes of sharp back pain, so it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of your pain. However, there are some simple treatment solutions that may help to relieve your pain. If your pain is severe, or if it does not improve with home treatment, you should see a doctor for further evaluation.


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