What Is Middle Back Pain a Symptom Of?

Middle back pain is a common complaint in middle-aged individuals who sit for long hours at work.
Middle back pain is a common complaint in middle-aged individuals who sit for long hours at work.

Middle back pain is a common complaint in middle-aged individuals who sit for long hours at work. It is felt between the shoulder blades. The problem may be simply poor posture or something more serious.

The following are the causes of middle back pain:

  • Muscle or ligament strain or sprains
  • Bulging or ruptured disks between the vertebral bones
  • Arthritis or joint problems between the vertebral bones
  • Degenerative disc disease (caused due to wear and tear and bone loss)
  • Osteoporosis (bones become weak and brittle)
  • Spondylosis (age-related wear and tear of the spinal discs)
  • Sprains
  • Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the space within your spine)
  • An infection such as tuberculosis
  • A tumor in the spine
  • Inflammation or swelling in the coverings of the spinal cord

Some of the risk factors for middle back pain include:

What is middle back pain?

In middle back pain, you might feel pain or stiffness between your shoulder blades.

The spine or backbone is one of the sturdiest parts of the body, but its increased flexibility means it is prone to instability and wear and tear. The spinal cord comprises 24 bones, known as vertebrae, and has discs in between the bones. Several strong ligaments and muscles surrounding the spine that provide support. Moreover, the spinal cord also has many small joints (facet joints) on both sides. The structures of your spine such as the joints, discs, and ligaments start to degenerate as you age if you do not take care of your diet and exercise schedule.

Approximately 80% of adults will experience back pain in their lives. You can prevent or relieve most back pain episodes with simple home treatments and proper body mechanics. Surgery is often not needed unless the problem is very advanced.

What are the symptoms of middle back pain?

Middle back pain can be accompanied with

  • Muscle tightness or tension may get better with stretching.
  • Stiffness.
  • A reduced range of movement, causing pain while you bend.
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the trunk.

Your back pain may indicate a severe underlying medical condition if

  • Pain becomes too intense and starts to affect your daily activities.
  • You have a fever along with pain.
  • Pain starts immediately after a fall, an accident, or a sports injury.
  • Pain lingers for more than a few days and requires regular pain medications.
  • You have severe pain in the side and back below your ribs.
  • You have pain along with numbness or weakness in your arms or legs.
  • You have numbness or tingling in your arms, legs, chest, or belly.
  • Pain radiates to one or both legs, especially if the pain extends below the knee.
  • You have unexplained weight loss.

How can you prevent middle back pain?

You can follow various measures to prevent middle back pain including:

  • Rest, if your back hurts a lot; sitting without proper back support is not good for your spine.
  • Use a heating pad or an ice pack to relieve pain.
  • Exercise regularly and do muscle stretching under proper supervision.
  • Practice a good posture.
  • Learn ways to reduce stress such as yoga.
  • Use over the counter painkillers to mitigate pain but do not overuse them.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Maintain healthy body weight.
  • Build muscle strength and flexibility with abdominal and back muscle exercises.
  • Avoid heavy lifting.
  • Seek physiotherapy if pain is persistent.


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