Were you aware that approximately one-fifth of U.S. adults experience chronic pain? That’s about 50.2 million people suffering from pain that lasts for months, even years.
Middle back pain, in turn, is one of the most common acute and chronic pain complaints. It’s not as prevalent as low back pain but can be just as debilitating.
What exactly causes pain in the middle area of the back, though? Can you treat it at home, or should you see a doctor for help?
We’ll get to the bottom of those questions below, so read on.
What Middle Back Pain Means
The middle back is the region in your spinal column known as the thoracic spine. It consists of 12 backbones, from the T1 to the T12 vertebrae. Between these bones are discs that cushion and protect them from friction and stress.
Nerves, blood vessels, muscles, ligaments, and tendons also comprise the thoracic spine.
Unfortunately, irritation, inflammation, or injury can affect any of those structures. And if that happens, you can expect middle back pain to follow.
Middle Back Pain Causes
Motor vehicle crashes, severely injuring about 4.4 million people in the U.S. annually, are some of the top causes. For instance, such incidents can propel a person back and forth with extreme force. That backward movement can damage or injure the thoracic spine’s sensitive structures.
Sports, which in 2020 alone resulted in over two million injuries, can also cause middle back pain. A perfect example is when athletes, professional or amateur, fall on their backs. The force can be enough to damage one or more of the middle back’s structures.
Muscle strain, which can occur due to poor body mechanics or posture, can also cause middle back pain. Likewise, you may develop thoracic spine pain after lifting heavy objects. Additionally, the pain you feel may have resulted from repetitive injuries.
Another possible culprit behind middle back pain is arthritis, a degenerative joint condition. It occurs when one or more joints swell and become tender. It’s prevalent in the U.S., affecting about 58.5 million, or about one in four adults.
Treatments for Middle Back Pain Relief
Treating middle back pain initially with ice can help reduce tissue swelling. You can then apply heat later once the inflammation has gone down. This cooling and heating method is often the first-line treatment for back injuries.
You can also ask your doctor if you can take over-the-counter pain medications. Some examples are ibuprofen and naproxen, which can help reduce pain and swelling.
Rest is crucial after injury, but start moving about again as soon as the pain and swelling subsides. If you over rest, your back muscles can weaken, triggering even more pain. Some good exercises for middle back pain are stretching and yoga.
If you need a device to assist you in getting back on your feet, you might want to use adjustable walking canes. They can help support you and keep your back straight as you start to move around again.
If your middle back pain persists for over three days, you should see a doctor ASAP. You may have a more severe thoracic spine injury that may benefit from physical therapy. Your physician may also prescribe prescription pain relievers or steroid injections.
Find Relief From Middle Back Pain
And there you have it, your guide on what middle back pain is and what causes it. You’ve also learned that you can treat it at home but must go to a doctor if the pain persists.
So if you’re still suffering after about three days, please visit your physician ASAP.
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