What Is Thoracic Back Pain Or Middle Back Pain?

If an individual has any pain or discomfort in the middle back region or the thoracic spine then it is termed as Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain. This type of pain and discomfort is quite a nuisance and at times these pains shoot through the spine. The thoracic spine is situated between the cervical spine and the lumbar spine. This region has the spinal column, the spinal cord, discs, nerves, blood vessels, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. An individual experiences pain in this area if any part of the spine gets inflamed or irritated. This irritation or inflammation can be caused due to various factors like injury to the spine due to motor vehicle accidents, sporting injuries, and in some cases some form of structural deformities can also cause the spine to become inflamed. Thoracic Back Pain tends to be quite brief but at times becomes chronic if it lasts for more than a couple of months. Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain is not as common as Lower Back Pain as this region does not bear the brunt of daily activities of an individual the way the lower back does. It is possible though that pain from this region can spread to other parts of the body or pain from other parts of the body can radiate to this region. It is extremely important for an affected individual to know exactly as to when the pain started as it helps a great deal in diagnosing and formulating a treatment plan for the individual. The treatment for Thoracic Back Pain depends on the severity of the pain and the disability that it causes to the individual. In most of the cases of Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain, basic self care treatments are good enough to get rid of the pain, although if the pain is severe and unrelenting it is advisable to consult a physician.

What Is Thoracic Back Pain Or Middle Back Pain?

What Causes Thoracic Back Pain Or Middle Back Pain?

The most common causes for Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain are injuries to the thoracic region from automobile accidents or sporting injuries, poor posture, medical conditions like arthritis or muscle strain. A sudden movement of the back may also cause pain in the thoracic region. Listed below are some medical conditions than can cause Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain:

Causes of Thoracic Back Pain

  • Osteoporosis: This is a medical condition in which the bones become thin and weak.
  • Paget Disease: This is a medical condition in which there is abnormal bone tissue loss
  • Pain in Thoracic Back Caused By Osteoarthritis: This is a medical condition in which there is abnormal breakdown of cartilage which causes the bones to rub against each other resulting in pain.
  • Osteomyelitis: This is a medical condition which is caused due to infection or inflammation of bones and can cause thoracic back pain.
  • Thoracic Back Pain Caused Due To Spinal Degeneration: This is a medical condition caused by infection or inflammation of spinal joints.
  • Spinal Stenosis Causing Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain: This is a medical condition in which the spinal canal becomes narrow or stenosed creating pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.

Some of the Structural Causes of Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain are as follows:

  • Scoliosis: This is a medical condition of the spine which causes a curve to form in the spine and causes Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain.
  • Kyphosis: This is a structural deformity in which there is abnormal curving of the upper part of spine which becomes rounded at the top giving a shape of hump.
  • Herniated Disc: This is a medical condition in which the discs cushioning the spine breaks putting pressure on the surrounding nerves causing pain.
  • Muscle Spasms: Muscles spasms are normally caused due to dehydration and pain caused due to this reason can be treated by stretching the muscles.
  • Spinal Tumor or Cancer: Tumors in the spine are usually benign but can cause pain in the thoracic spine.
  • Spinal Fracture: Thoracic Back Pain can be caused due to a spinal fracture which generally happens due to automobile accidents or sports injuries.

Some of the potentially serious or life-threatening causes of Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain are:

  • Aortic Aneurysm: This is potentially an extremely serious medical condition which is caused due to bulging and weakening of the way of the aortic artery. If this aneurysm ruptures then it can result in severe hemorrhage.
  • Heart Attack: A myocardial infarction causes damage to the heart and is caused by obstructed blood flow to the heart. One of the symptoms of heart attack is radiating pain from the shoulder to the midback.
  • Indigestion: Dyspepsia is also known to cause Thoracic Back Pain which is due to an attack to the gallbladder hence it is advisable to see a medical care provider immediately when indigestion is accompanied by back pain.
  • Renal Stones: Renal stones more often than not cause pain below the ribcage.
  • Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia by far is the most common cause of Thoracic Back Pain. This condition causes severe pain to various parts of the body including the thoracic spine.

What Are The Symptoms Of Thoracic Back Pain Or Middle Back Pain?

Symptoms accompanied by Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain are dependent on the underlying cause of the pain. If the pain is caused due to arthritis then along with thoracic pain there will be pain in other joints of the body, especially the joints of the extremities. Some of the common symptoms associated with Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain are:

Depression: This is a mental disorder in which a person feels very low in mood and is not able to partake in activities of daily living.

Anxiety: This is also a mental disorder in which the person feels as if things are getting out of control. He or she may have lightheadedness, shortness of breath and chest pain along with thoracic pain.

Fatigue: If one has chronic Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain then he or she is bound to suffer from persistent fatigue despite the amount of rest taken.

Fever: Sometimes Thoracic Back Pain may be accompanied by fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and photosensitivity.

Back Stiffness: Most of the people with Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain tend to get up in the morning with a stiff back which slowly resolves with stretching the back.

Tenderness And Erythema Along With Swelling Of The Back

Neck Or Shoulder Pain

Sleeping Difficulties: People suffering from Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain often at times have problems with sleep with either getting very less sleep or getting too much sleep with an abnormal sleep pattern.

At times, Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain can be a sign of a potentially serious condition. Hence it is advisable that if a person has Thoracic Back Pain accompanied by the following symptoms than an evaluation with a physician becomes essential:

  • Chest Pain or pressure
  • Dyspnea
  • Jaw Pain
  • Bowel or bladder incontinence
  • Excruciating abdominal pain
  • Weakness or numbness of the lower extremities.

What Are The Treatments For Thoracic Back Pain Or Middle Back Pain?

The treatment depends on the severity of the pain and the symptoms accompanied with the pain. Some of the treatment measures to control Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain are:

Physical Therapy For Thoracic Back Pain Or Middle Back Pain: Once the patient is referred to physical therapy for treatment of Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain then the physical therapist will formulate a detailed treatment plan depending on the severity of the pain. The exercises in physical therapy will focus on increasing the strength and flexibility of the spine and help in pain control. If one is suffering from relatively mild pain then a full course of physical therapy may not be necessary and the patient can just do mild tennis ball exercises to calm the pain down. Apart from tennis ball exercise any other exercise which involves bending, twisting, or lifting can help in controlling Thoracic Back Pain.

OTC Pain Medications: Medications like Tylenol or ibuprofen are quite helpful in alleviating pain and discomfort in thoracic back. These medications are also helpful in treating symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Massage For Thoracic Back Pain Or Middle Back Pain: Doing regular massages to the affected area also helps a great deal in controlling the symptoms of Thoracic Back Pain.

Below mentioned are some treatment measures for control of chronic Thoracic Back Pain:

Muscle Relaxants: These are helpful for relaxing the muscles and reduce muscle tension and thus helping calm down the pain in thoracic back region. It also improves the mobility of the spine.

Antidepressants: They are not only helpful for controlling depression but are also helpful in treating symptoms of Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain.

Steroids: Utilizing steroids can also help calm down the pain and reduce inflammation and swelling. It also helps in relieving pressure on the nerves.

Surgery For Treating Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain: In majority of the cases of Thoracic Back Pain, surgery is not considered to be an option but in some cases surgery is required and the surgery done for controlling the symptoms of Thoracic Back Pain is called as vertebroplasty. This procedure is done for relieving pain due to fractures of the spine. This procedure is done only on a rare basis as most of the fractures heal on their own.

What Are Some Of The Complications Of Thoracic Back Pain Or Middle Back Pain?

Again complications arising due to Thoracic Back Pain depend on the underlying cause of the pain. If the pain is severe enough that it impairs the ability of the individual to partake in daily activities then it may give rise to inactivity which has its own inherent complications. Such complications can be minimized by following the treatment strategy devised by the treating physician and taking part in regular exercise and doing as much physical activity as possible. Some of the common complications of Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain are inability to work due to pain, permanent nerve damage, impaired quality of life, and eventual disability due to Thoracic Back Pain or Middle Back Pain.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: August 12, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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