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Roaring Fork Valley | Glenwood Springs | Chiropractor​​

Mid-Back Pain


Common Causes Of Mid-Back Pain

Disc Injury
Between each backbone (vertebra) is a disc which acts as a shock absorber of the spine.  Discs aid in mobility and stability of the spine.  Inside each disc is fluid surrounded by rings, like the inside of a tree.  With poor posture or trauma, these rings tear, causing sharp pain and painful movement.  If all of the rings tear, the fluid leaks out causing a disc bulge or herniation.  Disc injuries can feel like a rib is “out” due to pain while breathing.

Referral Pain
Joints in the neck can refer pain down to the mid-back.  This referral pain is known as sclerotogenous pain.  The pain is usually dull to sharp and midline between the shoulder blades.  Poor posture increases the load on the neck causing damage to the joints.  A complete and accurate diagnosis is critical for figuring out exactly where the pain originates.  Restoring healthy mobility decreases load on the problematic joints.  

In the mid-back, there are many muscles and ligaments holding everything together.  Over time, muscles and ligaments frequently sustain damage in the mid-back from poor (slouched) posture.  Sprains (ligament) and strains (muscle) are tears in the soft tissues from overuse and excessive load.  Pain is dull or sharp causing difficulty with movement or breathing.

The most common form of arthritis to affect the mid-back is osteoarthritis.  It’s known as the 'wear and tear' arthritis because over time; the joint surfaces wear down.  Increased stress causes the gradual breakdown of cartilage which cushions the joints.  Abnormal bone growth develops to help stabilize the joints.  The degenerative process can cause pain and loss of mobility, leading to the hunched over posture.

Adhesion, Mobility, & Mid-Back Pain

The ‘mid-back’ or thoracic spine consists primarily of stabilizing muscles.  These muscles aid in maintaining an upright posture while sitting and standing.  Healthy thoracic mobility requires full flexion and rotation.  Limited mobility increases stress on joints, altering proper mechanics.  Altered mechanics and excessive force increase the risk of pain, disc damage, and degeneration.

Poor posture (sustained contraction) reduces oxygen supply to muscles resulting in adhesion development.  Adhesion is connective tissue that acts like glue in the body limiting flexibility and strength.  Fixing adhesion restores good back mobility and mechanics, reducing injury risk.  If you have mid-back pain, it’s imperative to test your ability to flex and turn your thoracic spine.

Below are two videos demonstrating how to test your mid-back mobility.  
If these tests are difficult or painful, we can help.

Is limited mobility causing your mid-back pain?
Test Yourself

Mid-Back Flexion

Mid-Back Rotation

  • Sit at the edge of a chair
  • Drop hips backwards
  • Bring arms straight down to floor
  • Contract abs

  • Seated: knees & feet together
  • Cross arms, upright torso
  • Turn as far as you can both directions
  • Keep knees together and butt on chair

Measuring these tests can only be done in the office.  Testing is just for difficulty or pain.

These are only general tests of thoracic mobility.  They do not establish a diagnosis.

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Mid-Back Pain Relief