What's Causing Your Mid-Back Pain?

Pain in the middle section of your back can be quite debilitating, keeping you from enjoying not only recreational activities, but also the simple joy of even walking or sitting comfortably! Some causes of mid-back pain are rather minor, while others are more serious and require treatment. So, it's important not to ignore your back pain and to take steps to figure out what's causing it. Here's a look at the most likely culprits.

Muscle Strains

Is the pain pretty constant, resembling an achiness that does not go away no matter which way you bend or turn? Do you notice that it gets worse after you have been immobile for a while before fading away once you start moving again? You may be suffering from a strain in one of the muscles in your back. Usually, this type of pain is found to one side of the spine, but if you strained a muscle very close to your spine, you may feel pain around your vertebral column.

Muscles strains usually happen when you stretch too far and over-exert yourself during physical activity. However, you may not feel the extent of the pain until a few hours after you're finished being active. For example, you may slide to hit a dodgeball and feel something pull in your back, but only notice actual pain that evening when you get up from eating dinner.

The good news is that most muscle strains resolve on their own within a week or two. You can speed the healing process by backing off on physical activity, holding ice on the area that is sore, and taking NSAIDS, like ibuprofen, as needed to control the pain.

Herniated Disc

The pain associated with a herniated disc tends to be more localized than that associated with a muscle strain. It will centralize itself in your actual spine, and it will become dramatically worse if you bend or twist in a certain way. For instance, you may feel some dull achiness when you're sitting or laying down, but when you bend to the right, a sharp pain shoots up your spine.

In the case of mid-back pain, it's usually a disc in the thoracic portion of your spine that has been effected. Essentially, there are discs of cartilage between each one of your vertebrae. When you herniate a disc, one vertebrae puts too much pressure on one side of a disc, causing it to bulge out to one side.

Herniated discs in the thoracic spine may also cause a number of other symptoms, such as:

  • Pain or numbness traveling up one or both legs
  • Tingling in your legs or back
  • Feelings of muscle weakness in your legs, pelvis, or lower back
  • Spasms in your legs

Herniated discs can sometimes heal on their own, but in most cases, you'll need to seek treatment through a doctor or chiropractor in order to heal appropriately. Your doctor may use x-rays to ensure you are, indeed suffering from a herniated disc and to determine the severity of the herniation.

Rest and careful use of NSAIDS will encourage mild herniated discs to heal within the span of a few weeks. However, if you have a more severely herniated disc or the pain does not respond to these milder treatments, your doctor may recommend either steroid injections into the affected area or surgery to repair the disc. Chiropractic adjustments are also effective for many patients and may sometimes alleviate the need for surgery when performed early and often.

If you suffered an injury to your mid-back and are now in pain, use the information above to evaluate whether it's likely to be a muscle strain or a herniated disc. If you think there's a good chance you have a herniated disc, seek treatment sooner rather than later. Clinics like Pain Relief Center can help.