Mid back (thoracic) muscle pain
The upper back is also called the mid-back or thoracic spine. Thoracic means ‘pertaining to the heart’ which highlights the importance of the thoracic spine in protecting our organs, such as the heart, liver and stomach. Unlike the neck and low back, the thoracic spine is built for stability and not for movement. It forms the attachment for large, strong muscles that move the arms and stabilise the pelvis. Muscle pain or irritation through the upper and middle back is common. Muscle injuries in the middle and upper back usually come from overuse issues caused by lifting, bending or sitting.
Types of muscle injuries
The research is not very strong when it comes to classifying muscle injuries, despite their clinical importance and its high incidence in the general population. However, the clear differentiating factor is the mechanism of injury. Muscle pain and injuries can be broadly classified as either traumatic (acute) or overuse (chronic) injuries.
- Acute injuries are usually the result of a single traumatic event and cause a macro-trauma to the muscle. There is an obvious link between the cause and noticeable symptoms. They usually occur in contact sports such as rugby, soccer and basketball because of their dynamic and high collision nature.
- Overuse, chronic or exercise-induced injuries can be more subtle and usually occur over a longer period of time. They result from repetitive micro-trauma to the muscle. Diagnosing can be challenging since there is a less obvious link between the cause of the injury and the symptoms.
The most typically symptom of upper back muscle pain, is pain that can be made worse with movement. When you contract the muscles by moving the arms or mid-back area, it will reproduce the pain. Pain can be located in the middle of the back between the shoulder blades (scapulae) or, the lower mid back area around the ribcage. Muscles in the mid-back are involved in movement and stability. Generally speaking, if you can’t reproduce the pain by moving or contracting your muscles it may be something else that needs investigation by a chiropractor or physiotherapist.
The treatment of mid back muscle pain depends on the cause and a number of other factors. Chiropractic and physiotherapy treatments are useful for this condition.