Middle Back Pain Causes
Middle back pain is an area of back pain which can be a nuisance but it much less common than low back pain. The mid back is variously described but for this article I have defined the middle back as the thoracic spine and flanking areas from the sixth thoracic vertebra T6 down to the twelfth thoracic vertebra T12.
The thoracic vertebrae in this section have large overlapping spinous processes at the back and relatively narrow discs, with the spinal cord taking up most of the room in the spinal canal. The facet joints are oriented in such a way as to allow a large amount of rotation, whilst not permitting much in terms of flexion and extension (bending and arching). This is so the thoracic cage containing the heart and lungs is not compressed so that their function would be impaired.
Due to the relative lack of movement in the thoracic spine, the stability of the vertebrae and the narrow discs the thoracic discs do not suffer from the same sort of degenerative disc disease problems found in low back pain and neck pain. This means that disc pain and disc prolapses are extremely rare and when found are usually a matter for immediate treatment.
There is no room in the spinal canal for a disc prolapse so any protrusion will impact the spinal cord and could be noticeable in changes in a person's walking ability, balance and control of bladder and bowels. This needs urgent medical evaluation.
Serious medical conditions affecting the spine are more common in the thoracic area so thoracic pain should always be taken seriously. Upper back pain causes are similar to those for the middle back and can be approached the same way although the neck may have a greater influence.
Facet Joint Pain
The facet joints are two small flat joints which occur at each side of each spinal level, in other words at the level of each disc. They are synovial joints like the knee, hip and fingers in that they have a membrane lining which secretes synovial fluid to feed and lubricate the joint cartilage. A joint capsule, a fibrous ligament-like bag, holds the joint together and has a lot of nerve endings, meaning it can be a source of pain.
Facet joints can be overstrained by a sudden movement or activity which can bring on acute local pain which is very sharp and restricting. Most of these episodes will settle quickly but some can persist over time and become long term or more chronic pain problems.
Poor postural alignment can also strain facet joint capsules if kept up for long periods and develop into a painful joint or set of joints which then takes less and less physical stress to bring on the pain.
Rib Joint Pain
The ribs at the back make up two joints with each spinal bone or vertebra and these small joints can be injured or strained and become sources of pain. They may be painful on movement, especially if combined with breathing in deep.
Back Pain Symptoms
Back pain symptoms are similar throughout the spine, with sharp stabbing pains with acute and sudden injuries giving way to strong aching with stabbing when movement is attempted. This settles to a more general ache with increased pain on activity which settles more quickly as healing progresses. Eventually an intermittent ache or pain may be present on an aggravating activity but this should disappear as the problem resolves.
Back Pain Treatment
Back pain treatment is somewhat different between the neck and low back and the midback area. The neck and low back may typically suffer from back pain causes such as disc related problems along with the joint, muscle and ligament ones while the mid back will usually not have disc related pain problems.
Physiotherapy concentrates on removing the causes of the stresses, for example by improving posture and limiting the time that aggravating positions or activities are maintained for, which may help with back pain relief. A back pain cure in these cases is often unrealistic but taking action to change the stresses on the spine and pursue exercise for back pain can be very useful.
Right Side Back Pain Causes
People often ask about right side back pain causes or left... The back is not symmetrical, often our structure is a little different on each side and combined with both our tendency to be right or left handed and footed along with the unpredictability of postures and activities means that pain is often on one side or another. Lower right back pain causes will tend to be the same as lower left back pain causes.