The thoracic spine is the middle twelve vertebrae in the back that supports the neck, rib tissue, rib cage, soft tissues, flexible joints, blood vessels, and nerves. You may feel pain in your bones, muscles, ligaments, or spinal discs when experiencing pain in the middle of your back. While pain in the middle of the back is common, it is often short-lived and not the result of a serious health issue. Rarely thoracic spinal pain results from a spinal infection, cancer, or heart or lung problems. Pain in this area typically resolves itself over time.
Some risk factors for developing pain in your thoracic spine are:
Lifestyle habits such as poor posture, sedentary lifestyle, and sitting too much
Underlying medical conditions, such as obesity, spinal stenosis, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and degenerative disc disease
Age: As you age, you become more likely to experience some form of back pain
Carrying too heavy of a backpack or purse
Your treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your thoracic spinal pain, but some common treatment options include:
Yoga, functional mobility training, and exercise
Heat or ice therapy
Massage or chiropractic therapy
Pain medication: Over-the-counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen and naproxen, or prescription painkillers, muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, and opioids
Your healthcare professional may ask you to lose weight if you are overweight or obese. Weight loss programs are often used in conjunction with other non-surgical options. Many causes of back pain may be alleviated or completely resolved through weight loss, while others cannot be.
Back or neck pain
Decreased mobility in thoracic spine
Dull pain in your back
Muscle spasms occurring when resting or with activity
Pain in rib cage that worsens with physical activity or taking a deep breath
Sensations of burning, tingling, numbness, or weakness
Stiffness in thoracic spine
Throbbing or aching pain
If pain in your thoracic spine does not subside after several weeks or you sustained a recent trauma to your back, you should schedule an appointment with a medical professional. They will inquire about the duration, frequency, and severity of your symptoms before conducting a physical exam. Your medical professional will look for any visible spinal deformities and test the tenderness and sensitivity of your back. They will also inspect your head, pelvis, abdomen, arms, and legs. They will inquire about your medical history and any familial history of back pain.
Your healthcare professional may order diagnostic tests, such as:
Electromyography or nerve conduction velocity test