What is middle back pain?
Middle back pain is any type of pain or discomfort in the area between your upper and lower back. Health care professionals refer to this area as the lower thoracic area or lower thoracic spine. The upper thoracic area or upper thoracic spine makes up part of the upper back. The lumbar spine makes up part of the lower back.
The middle back consists of the spine (spinal column), spinal cord, nerves, discs, muscles, blood vessels, ligaments, and tendons. Any of the structures in the spine or back area can become irritated or inflamed in response to a variety of mild to serious conditions. Middle back pain has many different causes, such as sports injury, poor posture, arthritis, disease, muscle strain, or trauma suffered in a car accident. Middle back pain is not as common as lower back pain, which is the most common cause of job-related disability and absenteeism from work, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This is because the thoracic spine does not move as much as the spine in the lower back and neck.
Middle back pain may last briefly or it may be chronic, which is defined as lasting more than three months. Middle back pain may be described as a dull, annoying ache or a sharp, acute pain. Middle back pain can radiate, or spread, to other areas of your body. The converse is also true; pain that is caused by a problem somewhere else in your body can radiate to your middle back.
Some cases of middle back pain can be severe and lead to the inability to move. In some cases, acute back pain can resolve with basic self-care measures within a few weeks, but it can also persist and lead to more serious problems over time.
Prompt diagnosis and treatment of middle back pain can help control symptoms and reduce the risk of complications, such as disability. Seek prompt medical care if your middle back pain is severe, is persistent, or causes you concern. In some cases, the underlying cause of middle back pain can be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have middle back pain accompanied by chest pain, difficulty breathing, loss of bladder or bowel control, or numbness or paralysis in the arms or legs.
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