Thoracic back pain, or pain in the middle back, is not as common as neck pain and lower back pain, but discomfort in the thoracic spine does occur and can limit your ability to work and lead a happy, active lifestyle.
The middle back, or thoracic spine, is defined as the 12 vertebrae (T1 to T12) between the cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (lower back). The thoracic region also is the part of the spine where the ribs attach directly to the vertebrae. Whereas the neck and lower back are designed to provide mobility, the middle back provides strength and stability, which allows us to stand upright. In addition, the thoracic back helps protect our internal organs in the chest cavity, such as the heart and lungs. Since the thoracic spine is so stable and strong, back pain originating from this area is rare compared to upper back pain and lower back pain.
Although the thoracic spine rarely experiences injury or is affected by degenerative diseases, chronic middle back pain has become increasingly common as people spend more time sitting in front of computers. Other common causes are poor posture, muscular irritation and dysfunction in the spinal joints.
Thoracic back pain also can be triggered by:
- Traumatic injury
- Twisting of the upper back
- Back extension
- Prolonged periods of sitting
If you feel you’re experiencing signs of thoracic back pain, consult your physician. He or she can determine the cause of your pain and recommend back pain treatment to reduce your discomfort. Treatments may include:
- Physical therapy
- Osteopathic manipulation
- Massage therapy
- Back pain surgery