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What is pain in the upper and middle part of the back?
Pain in the upper and middle part of the back can occur anywhere from the base of the neck to the bottom of the rib cage .
The ribs are attached to a long, flat bone in the center of the chest, which is called the sternum, and are attached to the back and around it. If a nerve in this area is pinched, irritated, or injured, you may also feel pain in other places through which nerves pass, such as the arms, legs, chest, and abdomen.
The upper and middle part of the back (called the thoracic spine) have:
12 vertebrae . These bones connect with the rib cage. They make up the longest part of the back.
Discs that separate each vertebra and cushion the impact when you move.
Muscles and ligaments that support the spine.
Pain in the upper and middle part of the back is not as common as low back pain or pain in the neck, because the bones in this area of the back do not flex or move as much as the bones in the lower part of the back or neck. Instead, they work with the ribs to maintain the stability of the back and to help protect vital organs, such as the heart and lungs.
What is the cause of pain in the upper and middle part of the back?
Pain in the upper and middle part of the back could be caused by:
Excessive use, muscle strain or injury to the muscles, ligaments and discs that support the spine.
Pressure on the spinal nerves for certain problems, such as a herniated disc .
Fracture of one of the vertebrae.
Osteoarthritiscaused by the disintegration of cartilage that cushions the small facet joints in the spine.
Myofascial pain that affects the connective tissue of a muscle or a group of muscles.
Rarely, the pain may be caused by other problems, such as gallbladder disease , cancer, or an infection.
What are the symptoms?
The common symptoms of pain in the upper and middle part of the back are:
A dull, burning or sharp pain.
Oppression or muscle stiffness.
More serious symptoms that need to be treated immediately include:
Weakness in the arms or legs.
Numbness or tingling in the arms, legs, chest or abdomen.
Loss of control of the bowels or bladder .
How is pain in the upper and middle part of the back diagnosed?
Your doctor will first ask about your health history, your symptoms, your work and your physical activities. Then he will perform a physical exam . Your doctor may also want you to have a diagnostic imaging test, such as an x-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam , to find out if, for example, a fracture in a bone or a Herniated disc are causing your pain.
You may need to have more tests to find other possible causes of your pain.
How is it treated?
In most cases, people with mild to moderate back pain can manage their symptoms with:
Over-the-counter pain relievers (pain medications), such as acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (for example, Advil, Aleve, aspirin, and Motrin).
Heat or ice.
Manual therapy, such as massage, mobilization or manipulation of the spine.
But if your pain gets worse and you are having difficulty performing your daily activities, you may need to take a prescription pain reliever. Surgery is rarely used to treat pain in the upper and middle part of the back.
How can you take care of yourself at home?
There are many things you can do at home to help reduce your pain. For example:
Rest. If your back hurts a lot, take a break. But try not to let too much time pass to move again. Instead, return to your activities slowly.
Use over-the-counter pain relievers , such as acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (for example, Advil, Aleve, aspirin, and Motrin). These can reduce pain and swelling. Be cautious with medications. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
Use a heating pad or an ice pack. Heat can reduce pain and stiffness. Ice can help reduce pain and swelling.
Workout. Exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles of the back, shoulders and stomach can help improve posture, decrease your chances of injury and reduce pain.
Practice good posture. Be sure to sit or stand with an upright posture. It does not collapse or bend.
Learn ways to reduce stress. I could try deep breathing and relaxation exercises or meditation .