Back pain is a complex and challenging issue to treat. It can involve many different elements and stem from a variety of causes. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on upper back pain and middle back pain causes and how we can treat them.
To begin, we must clarify what areas of the body the upper and middle back comprise. This entire region is also commonly known as the thoracic spine and it includes the chest cavity. It extends from the base of your neck to the bottom of your rib cage.
The upper and middle back is made up of 12 vertebrae, which are often referred to as T1 through T12, with the T representing thoracic. Situated between each of the vertebrae are spongy discs, which act as shock absorbers for your body. They provide cushioning for your spine as you move around and perform daily activities. The vertebrae and discs work in league with numerous ligaments and muscles to keep the spine together. Moreover, the thoracic spine works with your ribs and abdominal muscles to keep your body core stable. Furthermore, it is also responsible for helping to protect the vital organs in this area, such as the heart and lungs.
In general, this region is less susceptible to pain than your neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine) because it is more rigid and does not bear as much of your body’s weight. However, it is still prone to strain, disease, and injury.
Some common symptoms experienced by those with upper and middle back pain may include the following:
- Sharp Pain
- Burning Sensation
Some individuals may experience more serious signs and symptoms, which require prompt and immediate medical attention. These can involve the following:
- Numbness or tingling in the arms, legs, chest, or abdomen
- Losing control of your bodily functions (bladder, bowels, etc.)
- Weakness or spasming in your extremities (arms, legs, etc.)
There are a myriad of causes for pain in the upper and middle back. Strain, overuse, and injury are common causes but poor posture and disease can also play a pivotal role. Along with the aforementioned triggers, here are some other possible causes to consider, including:
- Trauma or sports injury
- Pinched nerves
- Fractured vertebra(e)
- Herniated discs
- Ailments or injuries affecting the internal organs (cancer, gallbladder, spleen, liver, kidneys, etc.)
- Myofascial pain syndrome
Several factors can make you more vulnerable to pain in the thoracic region. Among these are age, obesity, lack of exercise, and smoking. All of these stressors can weaken the body and its immunity. Thus, making you more susceptible to pain in a variety of regions.
While many people with upper and middle back pain may be able to manage their symptoms at home via rest, over-the-counter pain relievers, heat, ice, or stretching exercises, this may not be enough to treat your condition. If the pain persists, worsens, or starts to impede your ability to perform daily activities, you should consult your doctor or seek medical attention ASAP.
If you and your health care provider think it’s okay for you to take care of the rest of your spine, check out these lower back pain stretches to maintain optimum health.