Have you ever experienced pain in the middle of the back after a long working day in front of the computer or after a weekend Netflix marathon on the couch? The chances are that you have fallen victim to the notorious thoracic spine pain or commonly known as middle of the back pain.

Causes

This part of the spine connects the cervical spine(neck) to the lumbar spine(lower back). It also connects to the ribs forming the rib cage, ensuring a safe house for the vital organs of the body. This is in addition to providing attachments to few of the biggest muscles of the body- namely the trapezius and the lats (latissimus dorsi). Given the complex interactions, it would be only fair to say that poor neck or lower back postures could have a significant effect on reducing the mobility of this area, thus creating an associated discomfort.

The usual offenders from a musculoskeletal perspective include:

  • Prolonged sitting – poor ergonomics leading to unequal force distribution and muscle tightness, seen very commonly in our sedentary population, who on an average spends 4-5 hours in front of the computer.
  • Lack of regular exercise – especially mobility drills- leading to reduced muscular flexibility causing poor thoracic spinal joint mobility.
  • Overuse injuries – Repeated unilateral or one-sided rotations seen commonly in factory or warehouse workers.

Associated Symptoms

Along with pain, discomfort and a feeling of increase in muscle tension in the mid-back area, an associated difficulty into twisting and sitting upright for more than 20 minutes are very commonly reported with mid-back issues. It is also possible to experience some radiating pain in the front of the ribs, especially on deep breathing or coughing like manoeuvres.

Would you need scans to diagnose a problem in the mid-back?

More often than not, a scan would not be warranted as most issues are very postural or activity related. However, if your physiotherapist or GP might suspect other sinister causes of mid-back pain, you will be referred for an X-ray or an MRI scan to identify the true source of symptoms.

Management options

  • Medications – pain relief and/or anti-inflammatory drugs- under your GP’s directive.
  • Physiotherapy.
  • Ergonomic changes.
  • Lifestyle modifications.

How can your physiotherapist help you?

Using a variety of specialised techniques, your physiotherapist might be able to help you reduce the experienced stiffness and promote more mobility in the mid-back area. Those include: 

  • Soft tissue mobilisations.
  • Dry needling and acupuncture.
  • Spinal joint mobilisations.
  • Strapping.
  • Exercise therapy- mobility and strengthening drills.
  • Ergonomic advice regarding re-arranging your work setup for an optimal sitting posture.
  • Lifestyle modifications for health promotion.

Come see us at Enrich Physio, where our team of experienced sports and musculoskeletal physiotherapists would be happy to guide you through to recovery and help you effectively manage your mid-back pain.