Symptoms 2022

Middle back pain: 7 causes (and what to do)

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Middle back pain: 7 causes (and what to do)
Middle back pain: 7 causes (and what to do)

Pain in the middle of the back arises in the region between the lower part of the neck and the beginning of the ribs and, therefore, is usually related to problems in the thoracic spine, which are 12 vertebrae that are in this location. Thus, the most common problems associated with this pain are poor posture, herniated discs, osteoarthritis or even small fractures.

However, in some cases, this type of pain can also occur when there is a change in an organ located in this region, such as the lung or stomach, for example.

Thus, it is always best to consult a general practitioner to identify the true cause of the pain and indicate the best specialist to provide the most appropriate treatment.

1. Bad posture

Poor posture throughout the day is one of the main causes of pain in many places in the back, especially when you spend a lot of time sitting with your back bent. This happens because the spine is subjected to constant pressure, which ends up overloading the muscles and ligaments of the back, resulting in the feeling of constant pain.

What to do: It is best to always maintain a correct posture throughout the day, but this tip is even more important for those who work with a constantly bent back. See 7 habits that harm posture and even some exercises that help strengthen the back to relieve this type of pain.

2. Muscle injury or contracture

Along with poor posture, muscle injuries and contractures are another major cause of mid-back pain. This type of injury is more common in people who train with very heavy weights, but it can also happen at home, when trying to pick up a very heavy object, using only the back.

What to do: Rest should be maintained and to relieve pain you can apply a hot water bottle to relax the affected muscles. In addition, having a massage on the spot also helps to reduce inflammation and improve discomfort. Check out other tips to treat a muscle contracture.

3. Disc herniation

A herniated disc happens when the disc that is between the vertebrae undergoes some change, causing constant pain that gets worse when moving the back. In addition, tingling or burning sensations may occur in the back in some of the arms or legs, as it can radiate to other parts of the body.

A hernia usually arises as a consequence of poor posture over a long time, but it can also develop from picking up very heavy objects without protecting the back. Know all the causes of herniated discs and their symptoms.

What to do: if there is a suspicion of disc herniation, an orthopedist should be consulted to evaluate the alteration that occurred in the disc between the vertebrae and start the most appropriate treatment, which can range from the use of analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs to surgery.

4. Osteoarthritis

Although it is rarer, osteoarthritis can also be a major cause of mid-back pain, as this disease causes the gradual degradation of the cartilage that sits between the vertebrae. When this happens, the bones end up rubbing against each other, causing pain to develop, which gets worse over time.

What to do: you should go to the orthopedist to confirm the diagnosis and, if necessary, start treatment with physiotherapy sessions. If this type of treatment is not enough to relieve the pain, the doctor may consider performing surgery. Learn more about physiotherapy for osteoarthritis.

5. Minor spine fractures

With advancing age, bones become more fragile and, therefore, it is common for small fractures to appear in the vertebrae of the spine, especially after some kind of accident, falls or blow to the back.The pain that arises with the fracture can be very intense and appear soon after the trauma, but it can also appear gradually.

In addition to pain, a small fracture in the spine can also cause tingling in other parts of the body, such as arms, hands or legs, for example.

What to do: Although most fractures are very small, they can end up developing if there is no proper treatment. Therefore, if a fracture is suspected, an appointment with an orthopedist should be made. Until the appointment, the ideal is to avoid putting too much strain on your back. See which treatment options are most used in case of a spinal fracture.

6. Lung problems

Sometimes back pain may not be directly related to the spine or the back muscles, but can arise when there are lung problems, such as especially when the pain appears or becomes more intense when breathing. In these cases, other symptoms associated with breathing may also appear, such as shortness of breath or persistent cough.

What to do: If back pain is associated with other signs of lung problems, consult a general practitioner or pulmonologist to identify any changes or lung infection that needs to be treated.

7. Stomach problems

Similar to the lung, when the stomach is affected by some alteration, such as reflux or ulcer, for example, the pain can radiate to the middle of the back. However, in this situation, people also tend to have a burning sensation in the throat, difficulty in digestion and even vomiting.

What to do: When you suspect that back pain may be a sign of a stomach problem, you should go to the gastroenterologist. Until the appointment, the most important thing is to maintain a he althy diet, with little fried food, fat or sugar, as well as using digestive teas, for example. Check out some natural ways to relieve an upset stomach while you wait for your appointment.

When to go to the doctor

In most cases, mid-back pain is not a sign of a serious problem. However, as this pain can also be associated with emergency situations such as a heart attack, it is advisable to go to the hospital if other symptoms arise, such as:

  • Tight feeling in the chest;
  • Fainting;
  • Intense difficulty breathing;
  • Difficulty walking.

In addition, if the pain also takes more than 1 week to disappear, go to the general practitioner or orthopedist to identify the cause and start the most appropriate treatment.

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