Where Exactly is the Middle Back?
It is between your neck’s base and the rib cage’s bottom. It’s known as the thoracic spine. The thoracic region comprises a bundle of vertebrae, nerves, vessels, ligaments, discs, and muscles, making it very sensitive to injury and high stress levels. It’s an area of shock absorption, but more importantly, it allows the support of the ribcage to protect your body’s organs.
Just about anything can cause your back to hurt, but the pain in the middle back has a different set of causes than the lower back since that area experiences different stressors. The main cause of the discomfort is the inflammation or irritation of parts of the thoracic spine. Swelling throws off the balance of the back, causing each part to interact differently with the other and often opening up the possibility of a new injury. Physical disturbances can cause swelling and irritation, but conditions within the body can influence how it feels. Muscle tension and stress also contribute to and are highly linked with all forms of back discomfort.
Back pain can range from a widespread area to a very concentrated area; it can be a mere annoyance or acute prohibitive pain. Different types of discomfort point to different problems and can usually give an idea of the cause. The fact that it is hurting signifies a problem; one back problem can easily lead to another if given ample time and the right circumstances.
Below are a few common conditions that may explain why your back hurts. While some of these may relate to your problem, only a visit to the doctor can confirm or diagnose your condition.
- Herniated discs
- Myofascial pain
- Pinched nerves
Both physical and mental conditions are included above. Your mental health can greatly influence your pain; understanding the connection between your brain and body could help you treat the problem.
When to See a Doctor
You should consult a doctor if the discomfort is enough to prevent you from living normally or carrying out everyday activities. It is possible to treat pain from home but to be on the safe side; a check-up can never go astray.
The discomfort could also be an indicator of a more severe underlying condition. Get to a doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Trouble breathing
- Chest pain
- Acute jaw pain
- Loss of control of your limbs or paralysis
If your back doesn’t hurt enough to warrant medical treatment, there are a few easy at-home tricks to help relieve the strain:
Stay active: Pain gets worse with inactivity. Even if it’s just a walk around the block, staying active can help keep it from becoming more severe.
Yoga: Incorporate yoga stretches into your daily routine. It keeps your muscles from becoming too tense and decreases your chances of further injuring your back. There are great ‘How To’ videos all over the internet that are perfect for Yoga newcomers.
Meditation may not be for everyone, but meditation is clinically proven to reduce stress; stress can cause or worsen the problem. So, no stress = better pain management.
Stay Positive: Your mental state and back discomfort are closely linked. Try and stay positive to alleviate stress. Just like a tension headache, there are tension back aches.
Medical Diagnoses and Treatment
You will be asked about your overall health, activities, career, and medical conditions. Your doctor will likely conduct various tests, from blood studies to medical imaging, to pinpoint your condition. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist depending on his findings.
Many pain control methods are available, but finding the right match may take a few tries. For over-the-counter relief, try the following;
- Topical spray – Sprays have become more and more popular as a means to control pain. They are applied to a trouble area and let sit. Relief can be immediate, but it often takes minutes to kick in. The only real downside to trying a topical spray is the strong odor.
- Creams and gels– Very similar to topical sprays; the main difference is that creams take a little longer to kick in.
- Pain killers– Over-the-counter products containing acetaminophen can usually help with mild discomfort.
If you want to try more astute forms of treatment, you should look into the following:
- Massage Therapy – While expensive, massage therapy can relieve stress and improve blood flow to your thoracic region.
- Physical Therapy – Your doctor can recommend you to a physical therapist. The therapist will work on accommodating your trouble area and help pinpoint the cause of your condition. Once fully diagnosed, the therapist can give exercises to take home to reduce and eliminate your discomfort.
- Surgery – Usually, mid to upper back pain isn’t treated with surgery. Still, surgery might be the only way if you suffer from a herniated disc or spinal fracture in the thoracic region.
- Psychiatry– Visit a psychiatrist! Many back problems are tied to the function of the brain. You may not have a mental condition requiring psychiatric treatment, but often anti-depressants are given to help relieve the discomfort. Millions have undiagnosed anxiety disorders; anxiety is a huge cause of back discomfort, so keeping your brain healthy can help keep your back healthy too.
- Acupuncture– It’s been known to provide relief in a wide variety of cases, but acupuncture isn’t a clinically proven method of guaranteed pain removal; if the first few treatments don’t work, likely, that acupuncture isn’t the right form of therapy for you.
Pain in the middle back plagues hundreds of thousands worldwide; understanding its causes, symptoms, and characteristics can be treated and cured.