Middle Back Pain – Spine
Middle back pain symptoms vary greatly and can be just an annoying mild ache which persists in the back on sitting at a desk or using a computer, or which comes on after activity such as in the garden. However, symptoms can be sharp and limiting if one of the joints has been injured by an awkward lift or other strain.
The causes of middle back pain are mostly thought to be from the local joints in that spinal region. Disc problems, so common in the lumbar region and not unknown in the neck, are very uncommon indeed in the thoracic spine. If they do occur the prolapse can compress the spinal cord as there is very little room in the spinal canal at these levels.
The symptoms of spinal cord compression can include bowel and bladder disturbance, an unsteady gait, numbness and pain in both legs and loss of leg muscle power. These symptoms should be reported to your doctor immediately if you have any of them.
Joints and other nearby structure can refer pain down into the upper back about as far as the base of the shoulder blades, so it is unlikely neck pain can be referred as far down as we are defining the middle back (6th to 12th thoracic vertebrae, just above the lumbar spine). However, the rib and facet joints of this area can refer round the body as chest pain and are sometimes mistaken for heart problems.
Physiotherapy can help with these problems and the physio will assess the spinal area and use various techniques such as explanation, postural advice and correction, middle back pain exercises to mobilise the joints and mobilisation or manipulation techniques. Chiropractors' middle back pain techniques are similar but there are differences in assessment, therapeutic diagnoses arrived at and manipulation techniques used.