Mid back pain — causes and treatments

The mid back is often defined as the part of the spine that attaches to the ribcage. The 12 vertebrae called thoracic vertebrae, numbered T1 to T12, make up the mid back, also called the thoracic spine.

Because the thoracic spine attaches to the rib cage and does not allow for movement, pain in the mid back is less common than elsewhere along the spine. The mid back does, however, absorb pressures placed on the spine and it also provides structural support to the neck, lower back and ribs. Most painful symptoms in the thoracic spine are the result of trauma, such as injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents. Arthritis and osteoporosis are other causes of thoracic spine pain.

Causes of mid back pain

Back pain can develop, either gradually or suddenly, for many reasons. Muscular strain is the most common cause of mid back pain. The muscles can become strained from activities like lifting heavy objects, traumatic injury or sitting for a prolonged period. Other back pain causes include arthritis, bulging or ruptured discs located between the spine’s vertebrae or strained ligaments.

Since it originates in the thoracic area of the spine, mid back pain is often called thoracic back pain. Symptoms may include:

  • Aching or stiffness
  • Sharp pain
  • Radiculopathy
  • Muscle spasms
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Chronic mid back pain

These symptoms can be experienced in the middle of the back as well as in the arms, chest, ribs and sometimes neck.

Diagnosing and treating mid back pain

If you’re experiencing neck pain, mid back pain or lower back pain, contact your physician. He or she can perform imaging and physical tests to help diagnose your condition and the cause of your pain. Once a diagnosis has been made, you and your doctor can work together to determine the treatment options that will help you find pain relief.

While your doctor may begin by recommending conservative treatments such as pain medication and physical therapy, some severe mid back pain requires spine surgery if weeks or months of nonsurgical treatment don’t bring the relief you need for a good quality of life.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization surgery to treat the most common causes of mid back pain in the thoracic spine. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and has a shorter recovery time^ than traditional open back surgery. For more information about the advantages of our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today.

We are pleased to offer a no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.