Having mid back (or thoracic spine) pain is a common condition that may also feel like discomfort, tightness or tension in the middle of your back. The thoracic spine has a much lower range of motion than the upper or lower back, which means it’s much less prone to injury than those areas. However, thoracic pain can still occur due to poor posture, overuse, or trauma to the area.
The main functions of the thoracic spine are to provide stability, protect the spinal cord and provide an attachment point for the ribs and various muscle groups.
What causes mid back pain?
These include poor posture, obesity, inactivity and smoking, which are all predisposing factors. Unfortunately, we can’t avoid ageing, which is both a predisposing and a causative factor.
Strain and sprain:
Caused by sudden, jerky movement such as a sports injury or improperly lifting something heavy can lead to stretching or tearing the muscles, ligaments or tendons, leading to mid back pain.
car accidents falls, and sports can trigger mid-back pain. Although it’s relatively uncommon, pain in this area of the thoracic spine or mid back can be caused by inflammation of the costovertebral joints (the joint formed by the rib attaching to the spine), resulting in intense pain. Once diagnosed, it is effectively treated with acupuncture.
Bulging or Herniated discs:
Even more unusual is intense mid back pain caused by a disc bulge. If the spinal discs in the thoracic spine become compressed, ruptured or bulged, the pressure on the nerves can cause severe middle back pain. This can be treated in the clinic and will almost certainly include acupuncture to reduce local, protective muscle spasms and inflammation, plus very gentle spinal mobilisations. Occasionally it will be necessary for us to refer you back to your GP or consultant for reassessment with a view to you receiving a local injection of a steroid which your GP or consultant will do.
With ageing and repetitive activity, the cartilage covering the spinal joints degrades, leading to the space between the joints narrowing and their surfaces roughening. This can lead to the bones rubbing together to produce pain in the middle back. This can be helped with a combination of ‘hands-on’ treatment and acupuncture.
What are the Symptoms of mid back pain?
The pain people experience in their middle back can be characterised in various ways, including tenderness, tightness or stiffness. Patients also describe their pain as dull, sharp or stabbing and can be accompanied by a burning sensation in the middle back.
Additional side effects that sometimes accompany middle back pain include:
- Muscle aches
- Pain radiating to other areas of your body, such as the shoulders, neck or hips
- Numbness or tingling in the chest
- Chest pain
Chest pain is most frequently the result of rib problems – your ribs attach to your spine at the back and in the front at your sternum or chest – rather like a bucket handle. Where there are symptoms of chest pain, we will always refer you back to your GP to make 100% sure that there is no other underlying condition.
Treatment options for Mid Back Pain
Osteopathy is a holistic healthcare approach that can be really helpful for mid back pain. Experienced osteopaths can use hands-on techniques to provide targeted relief and address the underlying causes of your pain. We understand that pain can come from different things like bad posture, muscle imbalances, joint stiffness, or even stress. By using gentle manipulation, stretching, and working on the soft tissues, osteopaths can ease tension, reduce inflammation, and improve the movement and alignment of your spine. We may also advise you on how to improve your posture, set up your workspace ergonomically, and suggest exercises to strengthen the muscles supporting your mid back.
Acupuncture offers a safe and non-invasive approach to treating mid back pain. It can be used as a standalone therapy or as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for mid back pain, providing relief and promoting your body’s self-healing mechanisms. Acupuncture helps by stimulating the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals, and reducing inflammation. This can decrease pain, improve muscle relaxation, and increase blood circulation to the affected area.
Other treatment options include massage therapy such as deep tissue massage, and physiotherapy for regaining mobility and improving posture.
There are a variety of ways we can help your mid back pain. It all starts with listening carefully and examining thoroughly, which leads to producing an individualised treatment plan.
We take the time to sit down and explain everything to you – the cause of your symptoms, what we can do to help you, how long it will take and how much it will cost. Once you are happy to proceed, then we will begin your treatment and give you your homework.
As a short-term measure to get some relief, you can consider any of the following (below). If they make your mid back pain worse, stop and seek help. If they do nothing and the pain persists, stop and seek help. If they provide transient relief, consider what else you can do to reduce your symptoms.
Keep moving if you sit or bend forward a lot at work
- Foam rolling
- Yoga classes
When should I worry about mid back pain?
Call your doctor immediately if your middle back pain is accompanied by a feeling of tightness or pressure in your chest radiating to your arms and shoulders, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, and/or vomiting.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What happens during my initial consultation?
Our priority upon your arrival is to ensure that you feel welcome, comfortable, and well-informed about your appointment. Typically, your initial consultation will last between 45 minutes to an hour. One of our experienced osteopaths will meet you and begin by attentively listening to you. We will inquire about your general health, any current pain you may be experiencing, your medical history, medications you may be taking, and review any medical examination results.
After this initial discussion, we may conduct specific tests to make a diagnosis. You may be asked to perform some gentle movements to allow us to evaluate your posture and mobility.
Using this important information, we will then create a personalized treatment plan tailored specifically to your needs.
What will happen AFTER an initial consultation?
During your second visit to our clinic, we will provide a detailed explanation of our findings from your history and examination. By the end of this session, you will be able to answer several crucial questions, including:
- What is causing my symptoms?
- What are the available treatment options?
- How long is the expected recovery time?
- How much treatment will be necessary based on your personalized treatment plan?
- How much will your treatment cost?
- What can I do to help myself?
- What changes do I need to make to get better, faster?
We take the time to explain and clarify the causes of your symptoms and what can be done to alleviate them. At this stage, we will have created a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.
What can I expect after my first treatment?
The response to treatment varies from person to person, as everyone is unique. The initial treatment is a crucial step in gauging the patient’s reaction to treatment and determining the best course of action to meet their individual needs.
Immediate relief may be experienced by some patients after the first session, while others may require multiple sessions to see significant progress. It’s vital for patients to realize that treatment is not a one-time fix and that it may take a number of sessions to achieve long-term results, particularly for chronic issues or long-standing musculoskeletal imbalances.
Is treatment painful?
The treatments themselves are not painful, but there might be some discomfort after the spinal manipulation as your body adjusts to the treatment and improved posture. This can result in stiffness in certain regions, which is a natural occurrence, and we recommend using an ice pack on the area for 10 minutes after your session and staying hydrated.
What causes the cracking sound during the treatment?
The cracking or popping sound heard during an osteopathic treatment is caused by the release of nitrogen gas from the joints. This is a normal and common occurrence and may not always happen depending on the technique used. The sound itself is neither significant or important to your progress.
What is the cost of the initial consultation?
The initial consultation is priced at £65, which comprises a thorough spinal evaluation including muscle and nerve testing, orthopaedic examination, as well as posture and movement analysis.
What is the cost of the each treatment?
Each treatment is £45 if you pay as you go. However, we do have discount options available depending on what works best for you.
What days and times are you open?
Monday – Friday 8am – 8pm,
Saturday – 8am – 2pm
Sunday – closed
How long will it take for me to feel better?
The length of time it will take to start to feel better varies a good deal between patients. This difference is based on several factors, including the how long you’ve had the problem and how severe it’s become, your lifestyle and demands of work and family as well as your individual capacity to respond to treatment.
Generally, patients with acute conditions (recent onset) may experience significant improvement within a few sessions, while those with chronic conditions (your symptoms have been present for more than 12 weeks) may require more treatment sessions to attain long-lasting outcomes.
The secrets to getting well are to always turn up for your treatment, follow the guidance of your practitioner and get involved in your own recovery. Don’t delegate your health to your practitioner. It is always a partnership!
What happens if I miss an appointment?
We recognize that we all have busy lives beyond the Backcare and Acupuncture Clinics, but please let us know as soon as possible if you are unable to keep your appointment, and we will make every effort to reschedule it for you. We will make every effort to accommodate your particular schedule