In most cases, strains in the muscles that support your spine are the primary cause of middle back pain, especially in individuals with sturdy bones. Luckily, that makes it easier to employ home remedies, such as mid-back stretches to relieve pain and keep it from returning.
Frequently mistaken as upper back pain, the pain you feel on your middle back is caused by inflammation in the spine’s thoracic area. If you’re suffering from recurring middle back pain, you’ll find it relieving to know that the thoracic vertebrae don’t contort as much as the upper and lower spines. This movement restriction keeps your intervertebral discs from experiencing the same amount of wear and tear.
Middle Back Pain Symptoms
Middle back pain symptoms vary depending on the underlying illness, disorder, or condition. To illustrate, if arthritis is the primary cause of your back pain, you may feel discomfort in other joints of your body. Meanwhile, back pain caused by a pinched nerve may result in loss of bladder control. Back pain is a common symptom of fibromyalgia, characterized by chronic fatigue and sleep disorders.
Common symptoms of middle back pain may include:
- sharp or stabbing pain
- dull or aching pain
- burning sensations
- tight or stiff muscles
Meanwhile, the following symptoms may also manifest and are categorized as severe:
- a tingling sensation in your arms, chest, or legs
- lethargy and weakness
- chest pain
When any of these manifest and you experience them for more than three days, make sure to see your doctor at once. You should also seek immediate medical attention if you have back symptoms following another injury, collision, or fall.
Middle Back Pain Causes
Middle back pain may stem from a variety of factors, ranging from injury to poor posture. Some of its more common potential causes include:
Being overweight, particularly in the midsection, throws your entire center of gravity forward, putting additional pressure on your back muscles.
To prevent back pain, health professionals recommend that you remain within 10 pounds of your ideal weight. Proper diet and exercise should help you achieve this goal.
In general, lack of physical activity results in weak muscles, contributing to middle back pain. Also, employing incorrect lifting techniques in your workout causes nagging pain.
In addition, research shows that frequent smokers are more prone to developing chronic back pain. Nicotine intake dramatically reduces the nutrient supply to the spinal disks, increasing the risk of pain, degeneration, and injury.
One of the leading causes of middle back pain and back pain, in general, is poor posture. Whenever you slouch, you’re inadvertently increasing pressure on the spine, which strains the muscles as they work to maintain balance.
A sports injury, car accident, or fall may result in a broken or fractured bone in any of the vertebrae in the middle back. Severe deterioration of the spine over time, such as osteoarthritis, can also cause a broken vertebra.
One of the symptoms you need to watch out for is excruciating pain that worsens each time you move. If your spinal cord is injured, it triggers tingling, numbness, and incontinence. Seek immediate medical attention once these telltale signs occur.
Disks are shock-absorbing cushions found between the vertebrae that facilitate movement. They are filled with liquid, thus tend to rupture or bulge outward. This condition, referred to as a herniated disk, slipped disk, or ruptured disk, puts pressure on the adjacent nerves.
While a herniated disk in your middle back doesn’t necessarily manifest signs or symptoms, it may trigger discomfort, tingling, or numbness.
As you age, pain in every part of the back becomes more likely. Back pain becomes more common in people between the ages of 30 and 60, although it may affect anybody at any age.
Less fluid between spinal joints, decreased muscle density, and thinning bones are all-natural causes of back pain in older adults.
Before treatment, keep in mind that the aches and discomfort you experience in your middle back don’t stem from your spine, unlike other forms of back pain. For this reason, you’ll need to employ a one-of-a-kind approach to rid yourself of mid-back pain for good.
Treatment for Middle Back Pain
All possible treatments for middle back pain largely depend on the underlying cause. Usually, your doctor will prescribe home remedies, including mid back stretches, at first but may opt for medical and surgical interventions if necessary.
The following are home remedies you may use to treat middle back pain:
One of the most basic ways to relieve back pain is correcting your posture. Observe proper posture by not slouching, making sure to stand upright with your shoulders back, and taking frequent breaks from sitting or using a computer.
It’s a good idea to set up your workstations so that they’re ergonomically optimized for back health. Adjust the height and positioning of your chair, desk, computer screen, keyboard, and mouse to observe good posture while performing your tasks.
Many types of middle back pain may be relieved through hot and cold therapy, which involves alternating hot and cold compresses or ice and heat. To perform this home remedy, make use of heating pads and cold compresses available for purchase online.
Over-the-Counter Pain Relief
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are usually the go-to drugs for back pain relief. You may purchase them over the counter or by prescription if you require them in higher doses. These medications, including ibuprofen and naproxen, help reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain in your muscles and around arthritic joints and damaged spinal discs.
Middle Back Stretches
Specific exercise routines help strengthen your middle back muscles and rid them of pain. Mid-back stretches that help improve your mobility are typically easy to perform at home or in the office. They include the following:
The Child’s Pose is a basic yet very relaxing yoga pose. It enables the spine to passively elongate as you rest over your knees.
In this variation, you hold your knees apart to stretch the core abdominal muscles that link the lower back to the long leg bone. Placing your arms over your head gently stretches the latissimus dorsi, a big flat muscle that attaches your spine to your long arm bone.
Follow these simple steps to do the Child’s Pose:
- Begin on your knees, with your hips and buttocks resting on your lower legs and feet.
- Spread your knees apart up to a reasonable distance. Then fold your body over, taking your chest down towards your knees.
- Bring your forehead to the floor, arms outstretched in front, if possible. Gently rest your hands softly on the floor while keeping your arms straight.
- Rest for 20-30 seconds while in this position.
- Gently return to an upright position using your hands.
The Cat-Cow Pose, like the Child’s Pose, is a straightforward and gentle yoga routine. It stretches and loosens the shoulders together with the muscles that run the length of your spine. It will steadily improve your flexibility when done regularly.
Perform the Cat-Cow Pose following these steps:
- Begin the routine on your hands and knees. Make sure that your knees are below your hips and your wrists below your shoulders. To evenly distribute weight, spread your fingers wide and press them through the fingertips while maintaining your spine in a neutral position.
- Inhale deeply. Allow your stomach to fall toward the ground as you stick your buttocks out. Lift your head and shoulders, thrust your chest out, and look upwards. This position is the Cow Pose.
- Take a deep breath out. Arch your back upward the way a cat does. Then, tilt your pelvis toward the ribs, separating the shoulder blades and pulling your belly away from the ground. Allow your head to fall toward the floor.
- Perform these two poses alternately 5-10 times.
Thread the Needle
Thread the Needle is a yoga position that stretches your body, especially at the sides, including the latissimus dorsi. Besides the side muscles, this stretch helps relax your upper back muscles as well.
To get the most out of the stretch, keep your arms extended outwards while in a relaxed and comfortable position.
The steps to perform Thread the Needle are as follows:
- Start on your hands and knees. Place your knees directly under your hips and your feet in line with your knees.
- Walk your hands out in front until they are below the shoulders while keeping your hips, knees, and feet perfectly still. Maintain a slight stretch down the sides by keeping your arms straight.
- Pass your right arm underneath the left while rotating the chest. Your right hand should lie on the floor as you keep your palm up.
- Lower your right shoulder as far as you can while carefully placing the right side of your head on the floor. Look up, past your armpits, toward the ceiling.
- Maintain this pose for 20–30 seconds.
- Return to the starting point by pushing upward using your right arm. Once in your original position, repeat all the above steps using your left arm this time.
Latissimus Dorsi Stretch
You can perform this exercise while sitting or standing. While doing it, you must keep your spine elongated, and your chest raised. This basic routine also stretches the serratus muscles under your arms.
Follow these steps to perform the latissimus dorsi stretch:
- Raise your right hand straight up above your head while you’re seated or standing.
- Bend your elbow so that your right hand falls toward your upper back.
- Gently pull your right arm to the left while your left hand is placed on your right elbow.
- Bend your body in a straight line to the left while pushing the right elbow. While in this position, make sure not to lean forward or backward.
- Maintain this stretch for 20–30 seconds, then repeat the steps on the other side.
The passive backbend is one of the simpler mid-back stretches that can provide you relief after sitting at your desk all day. It stretches the scalene muscles of your neck, the serratus muscles, and your chest.
Before proceeding with the exercise, you’ll need to place a supporting object beneath your back. You may use a back roller, foam noodle, rolled-up towel, or yoga mat.
Then, follow these steps:
- Lay your supporting object on the floor.
- Lie on the object and make sure that it rests beneath your shoulder blades, near the middle of your back. Also, place something under your head if you think it also needs to be elevated.
- Bring your arms away from your body, forming a 45-degree angle.
- Stay in this position for the next 1-2 minutes.
Prevention of Middle Back Pain
While you can’t possibly avoid all cases of middle back pain, you can do the following precautions to reduce your risk of injury:
- Maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI). Being overweight or obese places more strain on your back muscles.
- Lie on your side or your back when sleeping. Sleeping on your stomach is a leading cause of spinal misalignment. Placing a pillow between your knees is also recommended while sleeping. See to it that your workspaces are ergonomically optimized. Check if your computers are at eye level, the seats you use have armrests and lower back supports, and wear comfortable shoes all the time. Observe proper posture. Stand tall with your shoulders back and your pelvis in a neutral position.
- Lift with care. Refrain from lifting heavy objects if possible, or find someone to assist you. If it can’t be helped, keep your back straight, and your knees bent when carrying these kinds of load.
- Consider physical therapy. Request a customized program from your therapist to work on your posture, core strength, and agility.
Back pain is a common concern that can severely affect your overall health and well-being if left untreated. Regularly stretching your middle back will help loosen and strengthen muscles, improve posture, and significantly reduce or eliminate back pain.