Thoracic pain–or mid-back pain—is not as common as low back pain or cervical (neck) pain. However, most of the time, when thoracic pain occurs, it is found between the two shoulder blades (on the back, aligned with the chest). Though it’s not always clear exactly what the cause may be, it’s important to pay attention to your lifestyle and adjust your routine to help alleviate pain caused by daily activities.
The most typical cause of mid-back pain is muscle strain or sprain that causes inflammation or even just a simple subluxation. Other causes include poor sleeping positions, slouching (poor posture), and general misuse (or disuse). Also, if a muscle doesn’t get enough activity, which is common with the mid-back area, it can tend toward muscle injury when it is used again.
Pain in the mid-back can be persistent or radiating, and the patient may feel sharp, sudden pain, or be stiff, numb or weak in the mid-back area. They may also experience some tingling. These symptoms should be noted and relayed to your provider when you go in for an examination to discuss your treatment.
Thoracic area pain can also be accompanied by a visible hump between the shoulder blades—the mid-spine from the shoulders to the natural waist will be in more of a curved “c” shape rather than a near-straight line (with natural curvature occurring only in the lumbar area). This happens when too much time is spent looking down or at screens. It’s very similar to having rounded shoulders.
Back pain can feel like a bad dream that just keeps coming back. Get to the source for a solution. When you have mid-back pain, see a spine specialist: a chiropractor. Shephard Chiropractic Clinic in Portland, OR serves a host of patients with many different concerns, including thoracic pain.
It’s also recommended to use dowel movements to help improve your mobility, flexibility, and strength in the mid-back. This region of the body doesn’t get as much activity as the rest of the body. Dowel movements, which is the use of a big stick (dowel) that goes over your shoulders and rests at the base of your neck with your arms wrapped around while you twist your torso, gives you better, more structured movement and allows you to put your mid-back in motion! For the dowel, you can use a broom, or any other sturdy, straight stick. These kinds of exercises are ideal for those that don’t run or use their arms in exercise often. For example, if you sit at a desk most of the day and only go for occasional walks, your mid-back may be in need of some extra care. Dowel stick exercises can be one solution, however, always ask your provider first!
Computer exercises (which you can do while you’re at the computer) are also helpful in alleviating some of the pain you’re experiencing in your mid-back. This includes stretching your hands, stretching your neck, and making sure that each part of your body is able to get some extra movement before tension increases.
Balance and stability are also a great way to hold your body better and improve your posture. When your core is engaged, the muscles work better together. Use a Bosu ball, a balance beam, walk on a piece of tape, or stand on one leg. Each of these allows for better stability through engaging your core, which in turn improves your mid-back muscles (and can diminish the chance of strain or sprain).
Like we said before, the mid-back is at the center of your body, with plenty of muscles connected to it. Having rounded shoulders can impact your posture and cause mid-back pain. Therefore, if you work on one area of the body, it can positively impact the other areas of the body. The rib cage is also connected and can impact the thoracic and shoulder areas. Rib pain can occur because of poor posture, work conditions (little movement and poorly aligned work areas) and physical stress. The mid-spine includes the ribs, shoulders, spine, and ribcage, and when one of these areas is in pain, the tight muscles in one place can pull on different areas of the mid-body.
It’s time to break the cycle of your thoracic pain and discomfort. You need to be aware of your body and how you use it. This includes improving your posture, setting up your workspace differently to allow for natural movement, and of course: visiting the chiropractor for regular adjustments to improve mobility and relieve built-up tension. In addition to these three things, you need to do exercises to break up your stillness and bring motion back to the area. Start little by little.
For long-term results, learn more about what helps your back. Be aware of your body. Go to the chiropractor with regularity. If you don’t fall back into old (bad) habits, you’ll be on the track to long-term success and will be feeling better and likely staying better, too.