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What can pain in the middle of the back indicate

Pain in the middle of the back appears in the region between the lower part of the neck and the beginning of the ribs and therefore is usually related to problems in the spine, where there are 12 vertebrae that stay in that location. Therefore, the most common problems associated with this pain are poor posture, disc herniation, osteoarthritis or even minor fractures.

However, in some cases, this type of pain can also happen when there are changes to an organ that is in that region, such as the lung or the stomach, for example.

So it is best to always see a general practitioner to identify the true cause of the pain and indicate the best specialist so that the most appropriate treatment is started.

What can pain in the middle of the back indicate

1. Bad posture

Poor posture throughout the day is one of the main causes for pain in various regions of the back, especially when you spend a lot of time sitting with your back bent. This happens because the spine is subjected to constant pressure, which ends up overloading the muscles and ligaments of the back, resulting in the sensation of constant pain.

What to do: The best way to avoid this type of pain is by maintaining a correct posture throughout the day, but this tip is even more important for those who work with their backs constantly bent.

2. Muscle lesion or contracture

Along with poor posture, muscle injuries and contractures are another major cause of back pain. This type of injury is more frequent in people who do heavy weight training, but it can also happen at home when trying to pick up a very heavy object using only the back.

What to do: You should rest and try to relieve the pain by applying a hot water bottle to relax the affected muscles. In addition, doing a massage in the area also helps to reduce inflammation and improve discomfort.

3. Herniated disk

A disk herniation happens when the disc that lies between the vertebrae undergoes some change, causing constant pain that worsens when moving your back. In addition, there may be a tingling or burning sensation in the back of one of the arms or legs, as it may also radiate to other parts of the body.

A hernia usually arises as a consequence of poor posture over a long period of time, but can also develop if you pick up very heavy objects without protecting your back. Know all the causes for a herniated disk and it's symptoms.

What to do: If a herniated disk is suspected, an orthopedist should be consulted to evaluate the changes to the disk between the vertebrae, so that you can start the most appropriate treatment, which may include the use of analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs or even surgery.

4. Osteoarthritis

Although it is rarer, osteoarthritis can also one of the major causes for middle back pain, as this disease causes the gradual degradation of cartilage that lies between the vertebrae. When this happens, the bones end up scraping into each other, causing the onset of pain, which worsens over time.

What to do: You should go to an orthopedist to confirm the diagnosis and, if necessary, start treatment with physiotherapy sessions. If this type of treatment is not enough to relieve pain, your doctor may consider you have  surgery.

What can pain in the middle of the back indicate

5. Minor fractures in the spine

With age, bones become more fragile, so small fractures of the spinal vertebrae often occur, especially after some type of accident, fall or a blow to the back. The pain that arises with these fractures can be very intense and arise soon after the trauma, but it can also gradually arise.

In addition to the pain, a small fracture in the spine can also cause a tingling sensation in other places in the body, such as the arms, hands or legs.

What to do: Although most fractures are very small, they may become bigger if there is no adequate treatment. Therefore, if a fracture is suspected, an appointment with the orthopedist should be made. Until the appointment, you should ideally avoid making too much effort with your back.

6. Lung problems

Sometimes, back pain may not be directly related to the spine or back muscles, and may occur when there are problems with the lungs, especially when the pain appears or becomes more intense when breathing. In these cases, other breathing-related symptoms such as shortness of breath or persistent cough may occur.

What to do: If back pain is associated with other signs of lung problems, see a general practitioner or a pulmonologist so that they can verify if there are any changes or possible infections in the lung that need to be treated.

7. Stomach problems

Similar to what happens if you have lung problems, when your stomach is affected by an alteration, such as reflux or an ulcer, for example, the pain can radiate to the middle of the back. However, in this situation, people also usually present burning sensation in the throat, difficulty in digesting food and even vomiting.

What to do: If there is suspicion that the back pain is due to a stomach problem you should go to a gastroenterologist. Until the appointment, we recommend you maintain a healthy diet, with little fried foods, fat or sugar, as well as using digestive teas, for example. Check out some natural ways to relieve stomach pain while waiting for your appointment.

When to go to the doctor

In most cases, middle back pain is not a sign of a serious problem. However, since this pain may also be associated with urgent situations such as a heart attack, it is recommended you go to the hospital if other symptoms, such as:

  • Feeling your chest tight;
  • Fainting;
  • Intense difficulty breathing;
  • Difficulty walking.

In addition, if the pain also takes more than 1 week to disappear, you should go to see your general practitioner or orthopedist to identify the cause and begin the most appropriate treatment.

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