Stiff Mid Back
A stiff mid back is an extremely common complaint. Mid back stiffness is something that most of us will experience at some point in our lives. An increase in the time Australian’s now spend sitting is a likely contributing factor to the rise in the incident of chronic mid back pain and stiffness in Australia. Mid back stiffness can be described as a tightness or restriction to movement in the thoracic spine.
Causes of stiff mid back
There are several causes of a stiff mid back. Some more benign and common than others. Generally speaking, we can categorise causes into two main forms: (1) musculoskeletal, which are more common, and (2) pathological, which are less common.
1. Musculoskeletal (MSK). MSK causes of stiff mid back pertain to injury of soft tissue anatomical structures. There are numerous soft tissues in the body that can cause said stiffness, but the most common include:
- Muscle: tight and shortened (e.g., postural loading issues), strained (e.g., repetitive strain injury, traumatic/blunt force injury), and fatigued (e.g., delayed-onset muscle soreness)
- Facet capsules: sprained, ruptured
- Ligaments: sprained, ruptured, calcification, fibrosis (thickening)
- Hypomobility in previously injured spinal joints
2. Pathological. These are fare less common, but can cause debilitating mid back stiffness.
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Gout and pseudo-gout
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Psoriatic arthritis
Symptoms of a stiff mid back
Stiff mid back is described as the feeling of tightness, lack of mobility or restriction to movement in the thoracic spine (mid back). Most of us would have felt this stiffness and tightness between the shoulder blades after prolonged slouching or slumping. Sometimes a tight thoracic spine can restrict breathing, as the ribcage attaches to the thoracic spine. At other times, something simply like sleeping in another persons soft mattress can cause morning stiffness that takes time to self resolve throughout the day.
Treatments of a stiff mid back
Chiropractic management for mid back stiffness are very effective. Treatments will likely include advice, active postural relief strategies such as a back support or postural exercises to reduce pressure at the office chair; hands on treatments such as mobilisations, manipulations and range of motion exercises; and exercise treatments such as McKenzie Method or strengthening exercises.
Please visit our website for more articles and blogs relating to chronic mid back pain and other mid back conditions:
- Lumbar disc herniation risk factors
- Lumbar disc herniation pathophysiology
- When are scans indicated in disc herniation?
- Chronic Pain: why does it still hurt?
- When to worry about back pain?
- Diagnostic imaging in chiropractic
- How chiropractors treat back pain
- Joint pain
- Thoracic myelopathy
- Thoracic osteophytes
- Thoracic spine stenosis
- Thoracic degenerative disc disease
- Thoracic arthritis
- Thoracic foraminal stenosis
- Thoracic pinched nerve
- Thoracic facet syndrome
- Thoracic facet joint pain
- Thoracic disc bulge
- Thoracic disc protrusion
- Thoracic spondylosis
- Thoracic spondyloarthropathies
- Thoracic radiculopathy
- Thoracic discogenic pain
- Thoracic disc herniation
- Acute mid back pain
- Chronic mid back pain
- Upper back arthritis