Florida Spine Institute

Upper and Middle Back Pain

Your upper and middle back, also known as the thoracic spine, is made up of 12 vertebrae that attach to your rib cage, discs that sit between each vertebrae, and various ligaments and muscles holding your spine in place. Upper and middle back pain can be felt anywhere from the bottom of your ribs to the base of your neck. A pinched nerve in your thoracic spine can also cause referred pain in your stomach, chest, legs, and arms.

    • What are the causes for upper and middle back pain?

      Your upper and middle back pain can be caused be a variety of conditions, including:

      • Osteoarthritis, which causes the cartilage around the joints to break down
      • Herniated discs that cause pressure on spinal nerves, causing discomfort
      • Overusing and straining the muscles that support your spine
    • What is the treatment for upper and middle back pain?

      While upper and middle back pain is less common, since the vertebrae in this area move much less than the ones in the lower back and neck, it still can be extremely uncomfortable. The first step in treating your pain is finding out the source of the problem. Your doctor will do this by asking about your current activity level and performing an exam; they may also order an MRI or X-ray in order to get a better picture of the area. These imaging tests will help diagnose problems such as a fracture or herniated disc.
      In mild cases, you can ease your pain with over the counter anti-inflammatory medications, mild exercise, and spinal manipulation. Making sure to practice good posture and performing exercises to strengthen your back, stomach, and shoulders can be extremely helpful. Since the thoracic spine is surrounded by large muscle groups, many of the non-surgical options will include heavy stretching.
      Should the pain worsen to the point where you cannot perform your daily activities, talk to your doctor about prescription pain medications. If there is a certain spot that is causing the most pain, your doctor may recommend trigger point injections. This outpatient procedure involves injections into painful muscle knots, with a mixture of anesthetic to help the muscle relax; more than one injection may be necessary to help the trigger point completely relax. You can also consider a back brace for stability or steroid injections to reduce swelling on nerves. If your upper and middle back pain is caused by a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, which is rare, you may need surgery to relieve your symptoms.
      Because more people suffer from pain in their backs than any other part of the body, we have a plethora of experience in treating the causes of upper and middle back pain.

Consult with the physicians at the Florida Spine Institute today and get started on your road to recovery.