man with middle back pain

Middle Back Pain

Middle back pain is a condition that many people suffer from.  And while lower back pain seems to be the number one complaint, middle back pain (mid thoracic or mid scapular pain) is a very real concern for some people.

What Is Middle Back Pain?

If you experience pain anywhere between the bottom of your neck and the top of your rib cage, this page is referred to as middle back pain.

Before we take a look at what causes middle back pain, let’s do a quick recap on what the middle back is comprised of:

  • There are 12 vertebrae in the middle back, which are attached to the rib cage
  • Muscles and ligaments which hold everything together
  • Discs that act as shock absorbers between each of the vertebrae

woman sitting at desk with middle back painWhat Causes Middle Back Pain?

There are many causes of middle back pain.  The most common causes include the following:

  • Posture problems – slouching is very detrimental to the health of your entire body
  • Repetitive use – any time you do something repetitively, it can cause you to suffer middle back pain
  • Over use – if you’ve strained the muscles in your back or rib cage, middle back pain is often the result. Or is you have been sick with a cough and using a lot of your chest and back muscles, this can also be an overuse injury.
  • Injury – any time you experience an injury to any of the bones, muscles or ligaments within the middle back, pain can be the result
  • Osteoarthritis – this condition occurs when there is a breakdown of the cartilage that helps cushion the joints. Without this cushioning, you may experience middle back pain.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis – a form of spinal arthritis
  • Spinal stenosis – a narrowing of the open spaces within the spine
  • Nerve-related problems – other nerve problems such as sciatica can cause middle back pain
  • Fibromyalgia – widespread musculoskeletal pain and tenderness
  • Osteoporosis – bone loss

What Are The Symptoms of Middle Back Pain?

The symptoms of middle back pain are fairly obvious.  They include constant dull pain and ache, sharp stabbing pains, tightness or stiffness, reduced mobility or range of motion, trouble or pain while breathing, weakness, numbness and tingling, and in more severe cases, even loss of bladder control.

How Do You Reduce Your Risk of Developing Middle Back Pain?

While you may suffer from other pre-existing conditions that can cause middle back pain, that are out of your control, there are most definitely things you can do to reduce your risk of suffering from middle back pain.

If you slouch at work, focus on sitting up straight with your shoulders back and engage your core.  Ensure that you have an ergonomic workstation that will be conducive to proper posture.

Go easy on activities that involve repetitive motion.  It’s ok to do these activities once in a while, but if you do things repetitively day after day, you are very likely to develop middle back pain.

A “too soft” bed can also contribute to mid thoracic back pain!

What Are The Treatment Options for Middle Back Pain?

There are many different options for middle back pain.  It depends on the severity of your pain, and your personal preference about the type of treatment you’d like to have.

Chiropractic Treatment

At Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage, we treat many many patients who suffer from middle back pain.


By performing adjustments and manipulations, the function of the vertebrae is restored, which results in a reduction in stress on the muscles and ligaments of your back, and in turn, reducing or completely resolving your pain issues completely.


A chiropractic mobilization involves a low velocity manipulation that helps to increase range of motion, and stretch the muscles and joints.

Exercise and Stretching

Staying active is a major factor in recovering from middle back pain.  As well, doing special stretching exercises will help to maintain the results of adjustments and mobilizations.  Consider these stretching exercises your ‘homework’ – in between your chiropractic appointments:

  • Core strengthening exercises to improve the abdominal and lower back muscles
  • Stabilization exercises to strengthen the secondary muscles of the spine, and improve range of motion
  • Gluteus Maximus muscles exercises to help strengthen the lower back muscles
  • Low impact aerobic exercise to help increase oxygen to the soft tissues of the lower back – walking and swimming are excellent ways to get this type of exercise.
  • Gentle yoga-type stretches, like the Cat stretch or child’s pose and help a lot.

At Home Treatment

Along with your ‘homework’ of performing the stretching exercises listed above, you should allow your body to get lots of rest.  During sleep, the body does all sorts of things to recuperate, regenerate and restore.

Using a combination of heat and ice will help to reduce the inflammation causes by muscles strains, and will also loosen tight muscles, to allow for better overall functioning of the middle back.

Lifestyle Changes

If you do things like sports or other activities that involve repetitive motion, it may be time to give it a rest until your back is fully healed.  If you’re not able to give up the activity entirely, for example, if you

are addicted to golf, try reducing the amount of time you spend doing the activity.  Even a slight change can be helpful.

If you work at a desk job, be sure that you practice good posture.  As well, it might benefit you to have an ergonomics specialist visit your office to give you advice and information about how to make your work station more ‘user friendly’ and less conducive to causing posture issues that lead to middle back pain. You may also speak with your Chiropractor regarding recommending a stand-up desk as that puts much less stress on your mid thoracic and low back!


Along with the other treatment options listed above, medications can help ease the symptoms of middle back pain.

Start by trying over the counter medications such as Advil, Motrin or Tylenol.  Most times, with Chiropractic care, stretching and rest, the pain subsides quite quickly!


Middle back pain (or mid thoracic or mid scapular pain) is a condition that is caused when there is some type of injury, illness, or abnormality to the area of the back between the base of the neck, and the top of the rib cage.

Most middle back pain is fairly easily treated.  Along with lifestyle changes, regular exercise, and chiropractic treatments, your middle back pain can become a thing of the past.

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