Upper & Middle Back Pain: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Austin Chiropractor Dr. Daniel Understands Upper & Middle Back Pain

Upper & Middle Back Pain

Upper & Middle Back Pain is one of the most common conditions that Austin Chiropractor Dr. Daniel treats. From strained muscles due to poor posture or chronic degenerative arthritis of the spine, it's important to determine the true cause of pain and rule out any serious conditions.

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The upper and middle back area of our body is less prone to injury than the lower back because there is less stress or load on this part of the spine. However, this area is one of the most common areas of complaint when patients come into my Austin, Texas Chiropractic office.

Middle back pain refers to pain or discomfort in the thoracic spine — the region of the back between the rib cage and the base of the neck.

In this region, there are 12 spinal disks, several vertebrae, and many muscles and ligaments. Any of these structures can become irritated, overworked, under-worked or damaged, leading to middle back pain.

Upper and Middle Back Pain Symptoms

Symptoms of upper and middle back pain vary depending on the underlying causes

A few common symptoms include:

  • dull or aching pain between your shoulder blades
  • sharp or stabbing pain between your shoulder blades
  • tight or stiff muscles in your traps and/or mid back

More severe symptoms include:

  • a tingling sensation in the arms, chest, or legs
  • chest pain
  • incontinence
  • numbness
  • weakness

What Causes Upper and Middle Pain?

There are any number of reasons why your upper and middle back can hurt. Strained muscles or sprained ligaments that support your spine is the most common cause. This is largely due to the fact that we spend so much time in poor positions.

Poor posture occurs from looking down at phones, sitting at a computer, writing or studying at a desk and any number of modern daily tasks.

Other possible causes include:

  • A pinched nerve. This could happen in your spine near your ribs.
  • A fractured vertebra
  • A herniated disc. When the area around the disc is damaged, the cushioning material pushes out between your vertebrae and can press on spinal nerves.
  • Osteoarthritis. Cartilage that protects your bones might wear down, leading to pain. Bone spurs can press on spinal nerves. This condition can hit many parts of the body, but the spine is among the most commonly affected.
  • Myofascial pain syndrome. This is an ongoing (or “chronic”) pain disorder. It’s usually triggered after a muscle has contracted over and over. Sometimes, it’s related to your job or a hobby that requires the same repeated motion.
  • Gallbladder issues. Gallstones can cause pain between your shoulder blades or around your right shoulder.

Upper and Middle Back Pain Treatment

The treatment for upper and middle back pain will depend on the underlying causes. Austin Chiropractor Dr. Daniel prefers to begin assessing your pain by evaluating posture, daily activities and studying your spine alignment by way of digital xrays.

Regardless of the cause, here are a few things you can try to do to self-manage your pain.

Home remedies

Beneficial exercises include certain stretches, such as the cobra pose.

At-home methods to treat middle back pain include:

Contrast therapy

Alternating hot and cold compresses, or ice and heat, can provide relief from many types of middle back pain.

Over-the-counter pain relief

While we don't recommend using substances that can harm your liver or kidneys, a few over the counter options would include Ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve). A safer option would include CBD oil or Kratom.

Improvements to posture

Poor posture should be corrected to alleviate any type of back pain. Practice correct posture by:

  • standing tall with the shoulders back
  • not slouching
  • taking regular breaks from sitting or using a computer

Workstations should be ergonomically optimized for back health. People should adjust the height and positioning of the chair, desk, computer screen, keyboard, and mouse for their needs.


Several exercises may help to stretch and strengthen the muscles in the middle back to treat and prevent pain.

Beneficial stretches include:

  • Cat-Cow Pose: Position yourself on your hands and knees. Then, arch your back as far as comfortable (like a cat) before sinking your back toward the ground in a U-shape (like a cow).
  • Cobra Pose: Lying flat on the ground, use your arms to prop up the upper body, stretching the back.
  • Seated twist: Sitting cross-legged, twist your upper body to the right, placing your left hand on the right knee for support. Repeat on the other side.

Beneficial exercises include:

  • Low-impact activities. Good options include yoga, swimming, and walking.
  • Core-strengthening exercises. Working the abdominal and back muscles using bridges and planks helps to support the back.

Upper & Middle Back Pain Treatment In Austin

If you live in the Austin area and are suffering from upper and middle back pain, let Austin Chiropractor Dr. Daniel help you figure it out!

Here at Family Health Chiropractic, treatment of upper and middle back pain is only the beginning of how we can help you live a happy, healthier life.

Click here to sign up for a consultation with Austin’s Best Chiropractor today!