Middle Back Pain: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Exercises

 What is middle back pain?

Middle back pain is the term used to describe any discomfort or pain that occurs between the point below the neck and the rib cage. This region is also referred to as the thoracic spine.

According to the American chiropractic association more than 30 million American suffer from back pain. The level of pain you experience is determined by the cause of the underlying problem.

Middle back pain symptoms

The symptoms you may experience are dependent on the cause of the pain. Pain in the disks, ligaments, muscles, and bone in the spine can present itself in numerous ways. Common symptoms include

  • A stabbing or sharp pain
  • Muscle aches and spasms
  • Muscle stiffness or numbness
  • Burning sensation
  • Bad posture
  • Chest pain – a severe symptom
  • Loss of bladder control – a severe symptom

Middle back pain causes

Potential causes of back pain are:

  • Herniated disks

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Your spine is made up of disks that are designed to assist in movement and also act as shock absorbents. These disks can bulge outward or rupture.

When a disk ruptures, it creates pressure on the surrounding nerves resulting to massive pain. Symptoms of a herniated disk range from a tingling sensation to utter pain or even numbness.

  • Muscle strain

If your work involves a lot of heavy lifting, you may notice some tingling or pain on your back. This is mostly as a result of muscle tear due to the strain.

  • Osteoporosis

This disease affects the bones on your back. Millions of Americans suffer from Osteoporosis.  Osteoporosis causes your bones to wear out gradually. You many not become aware of it until you suffer compression fractures.

  • Poor Posture

Sitting for long hours exerts pressure on the spine. Poor posture overworks the muscles resulting to more pressure build up. This pressure build-up causes pain on the back.

  • Aging

Middle back pain is one of the signals your body sends when it starts aging. Aging reduces muscle mass, thins the bones, and reduces the fluids in the spine, this leads to back pain.

The guide below seeks to answer some of the questions you may have regarding back pain. Read on and discover what you need to do in case you experience the pain.

Shall we get started?

Here we go…

1. Middle back pain at night

Night back pain or nocturnal pain is the hurt one experiences regardless of the number of pillows one uses or sleeping positions. Nocturnal pain is caused by:

  • Poor posture during sleep– Tip: for better posture during sleep, sleep on your stomach, while sleeping on your back, tuck a pillow beneath your knees, and when sleeping on your side, put a firm pillow between your legs to balance your body.
  • Wrong mattress– If your mattress is too firm or too soft, it could be the reason you wake up with pain on your back. Mattresses that are very firm or very soft prevent the spine from assuming the correct position during sleep thus resulting to pain.
  • Poor posture during the day– Back pain at night while sleeping maybe a result of slouching while you work at your desk. Slouching tilts your pelvis which results to pain and misalignment on your spine.

What to do: in order to treat this hurt, first check if your mattress has a depression. If there is one, it’s time to change it. Then use a firm pillow to balance your body. Lastly, use a posture corrector and an ergonomic office chair.

Fun Fact: In Washington state, it is illegal to purchase a mattress on Sunday?

2. Middle back pain while running

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Running keeps you mind sharp and your body in shape. But, when it becomes a struggle because of constant pain, then it is time to get a solution.

What to do:   Make sure your running shoes have high-quality insoles. Stay away from heat, such as hot tubs. Instead, ice the hurting area. Ice provides instant relief and has anti-inflammatory effects.

  • Stretch your hamstrings– do workouts that will stretch your hamstrings. Tight hamstrings lead to back pain.
  • Use the correct posture– When you are running, remember straighten your back, keep the shoulders down, and expand the chest up and out.
  • See your doctor if the pain persists for more than a week.

3. Pain while coughing

After an intense workout or moving heavy boxes, you may notice your back hurts every time you cough. This pain is as a result of torn ligaments and muscles during intense activity.

What to do: when lifting heavy objects, lift with your legs. You can also use a back brace. Make sure you use high-quality insole and footwear. Also, after a strenuous activity, lie down on your back for an hour to decompress your spine. Other treatments include heat therapy, cold therapy, TENS therapy.

4. Middle back pain in the morning – every morning

Everyone desires a picture-perfect morning. You open your eyes, sit up, smile at the sight of the beautiful sun, and stretch. But, a sharp pain from your thoracic area interrupts this picture-perfect moment. Thoracic pain in the morning is frustrating. This pain is caused by autoimmune diseases, fibromylgia, or awkward sleeping positions.

What to do: To prevent your back from hurting each morning, you should use a firm mattress and do some basic stretches before getting out of bed.

5. Sudden sharp pain in the middle of the back

Nothing stops you on your track like an anticipated sharp pain on your back. It literally feels like someone is piercing your back with a sharp knife. Acute back pain maybe caused by a herniated disk, infection, muscle spasm, or a compression fracture.

What to do: to alleviate this hurt you should:

  • Change your habits– for example, every hour you are working at your desk in the office, take a 10-minute break and walk around to decompress your spine. During lunch break, take a walk to the nearest park or something. Avoid sitting for long hours.
  • Incorporate thoracic rotation exercises into your workout routine
  • Support your back with a cushion

6. Middle back pain on both sides

One of the causes of pain on both sides is spinal stenosis. The term ‘stenosis’ is used to describe the narrowing of any passage in one’s body, so spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spine. Symptoms of this disease include muscle weakness, numbness, and pain on both sides, though one side maybe more painful than the other.

What to do: if you experience any of the above signs, please see your doctor immediately.

7. Back pain while walking

Back pain while you are walking may be as a result of obesity, muscular tightness, nerve entrapment, disk injuries or poor posture.

What to do: to treat this hurt, one should stretch the muscles to keep them flexible. If you are overweight, you should start working out immediately to shed off some weight. As you exercise, your supporting muscles will be strengthened, reducing the pain.

8. Back pain after car accident

After a car accident, you may experience pain on your neck and back. This lumbar pain is as a result of sudden body motion. Your seat belt stops your outer body from moving. However, the spine keeps moving and this result in injury.

What to do: do not ignore the pain. If you want an immediate home relief, consider cold or hot compress. Also, visit a chiropractor who will treat your nervous system and spine.

Tip: while driving, make sure your body is a bit far (10 inches) from the steering wheel. During an accident, the airbag deploys at around 200mph and this may cause damage to your sternum.


Natural remedies for back pain and inflammation

Various treatments are available for back pain. Most doctors recommend home remedies before surgical and medical interventions. These home remedies for back pain include:

  • Heat or ice

Ice or heat are commonly used as relief methods that provide fast relief to pain and reduce swelling. The cold reduces the pain and swelling while the heat reduces stiffness. You can use an infrared heating pad to relief pain.

  • Exercise your core

Your spine is supported by muscles and ligaments. When you exercise, you strengthen these muscles, improve circulation, alleviate stiffness, and release endorphins. This then reduces the severity of the pain.

Some of these exercises include knee lunge stretches, back flexion stretches, and hamstring stretches. Other exercise you can  include  in your core strengthening routine include Tai Chi, pilates, resistance bands, exercise balls, and BOSU balls.

  • Epsom salt bath

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Magnesium sulfate or Epsom salt is known for its numerous benefits, such as softening the skin, reducing itchiness, exfoliating skin cells, and easing tension knots. Soaking in an Epsom bath eases the back muscles, providing relief from muscular pain. For fast results, ensure the water is hot or warm. While bathing, you can rub your back with a ball to mimic a massage.

  • Balms

Back pain can keep you from your daily activities. But, with the help of balms, you can easily block the pain. Ointments and oils have healing properties that offer relief for back pain. There is a wide variety of balms. For a balm to be effective, it should contain ketoprofen, cayenne, Brazilian arnica, diclofenac, lidocaine, or comfrey.

  • Middle back pain yoga

Every year, the popularity of yoga grows among people of all ages. This is because it offers numerous benefits such as weight loss, increased flexibility, and increase in blood circulation. In recent times, more people have practiced yoga to help reduce back pain. Here 7 yoga postures for back pain:

  • Spinal twist
  • Plow pose
  • Cow/cat
  • Seated forward fold
  • Lower back clasp
  • Bow pose
  • Eagle pose

If you are a beginner and you experience back pain after yoga, it may be as a result of trying too much. Start with simple postures such as side plank, active spinal balance, knee hug, and bridge pose to strengthen your core muscles. After three months, you can move to more complex postures.

  • Mid back pain relief stretches

Deliberate movement can help relieve pain on your back. Stretching the ligaments, tendons and muscles helps improve range of motion and reduce tension. Here is a list of exercises you can do at home to relieve back pain.

  • Hamstring stretching exercises
  • Partial crunches
  • Press-ups
  • Knee-chest stretch
  • Wall sits
  • Pelvic tilts
  • Pilates

Exercises to avoid are:

  • Leg lifts
  • Sit-ups
  • Toe-touches


  • Inversion therapy

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Another effective home remedy for back pain is inversion therapy. This popular technique has been recommended by some chiropractors who have found it to be effective to patients whose backs hurt. You can easily practice it within the confines of your home. You will require an inversion table or an inversion chairs.

Medical Treatments

Apart from non-medical treatments, your doctor can prescribe medications to ease the pain. These include:

  • Injections
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Anti-depressants
  • Over-the-counter pain medication
  • Surgery- This will happen when the damage on the spine is severe.


Middle back pain can be excruciating and can keep you from enjoying your life. However, it can be managed through home remedies such as essential oils, yoga, exercises. If your back pain is persistent, please see your doctor to get professional help.

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