The middle back pain causes get far less attention than the lower back pain causes, but they’re no less concerning!
While it’s true that the middle back isn’t as prone to injuries as the lower back, it’s still a part of your spine and still needs to be properly cared for, protected, and, should injury occur, treated.
Below, we’re going to take some time to look at the most common middle back pain causes, including what they are, how to recognize them (besides the pain, of course), and what can be done about it.
By the end of this article, you’ll know everything you need to about pain in your middle back!
Understanding Middle Back Pain Causes and Origins
Before we get into the middle back pain causes, we need to understand what middle back pain is.
The term “middle back” refers to the lower thoracic area, just above your lumbar spine (lower back) and just beneath your upper thoracic area (upper back).
Your middle back is comprised of your spinal column, the nerves running down your back, the joints (ligaments, tendons, and cartilage) in your spine, the muscles supporting your spine, and, of course, the blood vessels that feed oxygen and nutrients via your bloodstream to all of the above.
Most of the middle back pain causes you’ll see below will typically affect your spinal column (the vertebral discs), your spinal nerves, or the joints of your middle back. However, middle back pain may also be caused by muscle strain or tears, which can be caused by excessive exercise.
Probably the most common of the middle back pain causes is sudden movement (such as during sports, working around your house, or exercising) that damages either the muscles around the spine or the spinal column itself. This type of injury will typically be characterized by an acute (sharp) pain, followed by swelling and stiffness.
(Note: This kind of injury is most common among people who lead sedentary lifestyles or don’t engage in a lot of intense physical exercise.)
Sometimes, the bones themselves can be damaged, such as in a car crash, a fall, or some other sort of direct impact that causes trauma to the bones. Tiny fractures or fissures in the bones can lead to the same pain response, and the body swells up to try and protect the area from further damage, leading to reduced mobility and greater inflammation.
Osteoporosis is one of the primary risk factors behind spinal disc fractures. As the condition weakens the bones, the discs become more brittle and thereby more easily cracked or damaged.
The injury may also occur in the cartilage and connective tissue around the spinal discs. When the soft tissue becomes damaged—by a direct impact, strain, or repetitive motion injury—it can swell up, placing painful pressure on the discs, possibly even pushing the discs out of alignment and leading to much more serious spinal pain.
Bursitis is another well-known of the middle back pain causes. It’s the result of chronic wear to the bursae, fluid-filled sacs that act as cushions between the joints of your spine. When these swell up, they can press on the spine, or bulge large enough to actually push the discs out of alignment.
If there is shooting, burning, or searing pain in your middle back, the cause may be related to your nervous system. Fibromyalgia, or unexplained widespread nerve pain, is one of the more common nerve-related middle back pain causes, but you could also experience pain as a result of a pinched nerve.
Of course, sometimes the pain may have nothing to do with your back itself. Instead, it may be radiating from another nearby organ—your heart, your stomach, your small intestines, etc. This is known as “referred middle back pain” and though it’s not the most common of the middle back pain causes, it’s a factor to be aware of.
Pain in your middle back is often accompanied by other symptoms, including:
Stiffness, particularly in the morning
Swelling and warmth in the back
Pain in your shoulders, neck, or hips (common with arthritis)
Depression and/or anxiety
Bladder control (if the pain is caused by a pinched nerve)
However, as mentioned above, sometimes the pain is caused by organ problems, such as a heart attack or serious stomach problems. If you notice tightness or pressure in your chest, chest pain, shortness of breath, jaw pain, loss of bowel or bladder control, weakness or numbness in your legs, or severe abdominal pain accompanying your middle back pain, it’s time to seek immediate medical intervention because you may be experiencing a serious problem.
Causes of Middle Back Pain: Get Your Life Back on Track Today
If you’re experiencing middle back pain—or merely worried because you have been prone to back issues in the past—it’s time to take back control of your life with Back on Track!
Back on Track is our solution to managing and treating all back pains, whether in your upper, lower, or middle back. It addresses one of the most common but least-treated problems behind back pain, and it is designed to work for anyone of any age, regardless of their genetic predisposition to back pain, and especially for those with limited mobility due to previous injuries or surgery.
In the Back on Track course, you’ll learn about the “sleeper syndrome” that is behind so many different types of back pain—including middle back pain—and learn actionable, practical techniques to help you combat this problem in every aspect of your life. It’s a game-changing course that will put you back in control of your body so you’ll never have to worry about low, upper, or middle back pain causes again and you can enjoy a pain-free life.
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