by Dr. Halland Chen, MD

Unlike the upper and lower back, the middle part of the back is structurally fairly simple, with fewer joints to worry about and less flexibility. Consequently, it doesn’t get exposed to the same kinds of stresses as the other parts of the back, but injuries do happen anyway, and mid back pain sufferers can have just as much difficulty finding relief.

The degree of severity in cases of mid back pain can vary quite a bit. For some individuals, it might be totally disabling, while others may suffer chronic, somewhat less severe, discomfort.

The cause of mid back pain, at a core level, is inflammation of muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This can be the result of either straining physical exertion, or poor posture, and injuries may occur from one burst of activity, or build up over a long period of time. For example, a person could suffer a severe injury his or her middle back during a tough day of playing basketball with friends, or it could happen over days and weeks of sitting in an uncomfortable office chair.

Mid back pain can signal certain very dangerous problems, like heart attack or kidney failure. If there are other symptoms present in conjunction with mid back pain such as shortness of breath, pain in the jaw, losing control of bladder and bowel, chest pressure, or pain in the stomach, seeking immediate emergency medical attention is usually the best course of action.

Treatments for middle back pain tend to vary depending on the cause of the injury and the severity of the symptoms. In the very worst cases, doctors may have to resort to surgical options, but this is fairly uncommon. Many people do just fine with regular dosages of over the counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, or acetaminophen. In more severe cases, bed rest may be used initially, while the pain is acute, but eventually doctors will often ask patients perform certain exercises on a regular basis to build up stronger muscles, so that they can more easily avoid future injuries. Alternative therapies, such as massage and acupuncture, can provide a great deal of relief during the period of recovery, and some patients claim they can even help prevent future injuries.

Learn more about Back Pain