Severe mid back pain (pain in the middle of the back) can strike suddenly and be agonizing- I know because I’ve experienced it myself.
It was the morning after taking an awkward hit in hockey and I woke up with my mid back in such terrible spasm that breathing was difficult, my chest felt constricted, and even the slightest movements were incredibly painful. I could hardly roll out of bed and literally had to crawl for help- sound kind of familiar? This experience turned out to be a blessing in disguise however as I now have a better understanding of what causes it and how to help correct it.
In my experience, pain in the mid back is most commonly caused by:
1. Rib misalignment: (aka rib head subluxation). The ribs wrap around the chest and connect to the spine forming a joint. Injuries, muscle weakness, poor postures, incorrect lifting, or some combination can cause the rib to slide slightly backwards and slightly inwards towards the spine. It will usually feel like a severe muscular ‘knot’ approximately 2 inches to the left or right of the spine, close to the shoulder blade. The muscles of the back spasm and tighten to protect the misalignment and a person can experience any of the following: difficulty breathing, radiating pain along the affected rib to the front of the chest, pain in the front of the chest, pain into the neck, and radiating pain/tingling/numbness down the arm or into the hand. This pain can be severe and often people will end up rushing to the hospital ER because they are convinced they are having a heart attack or some other cardiac event.
2. Spinal misalignment of the Mid Back: The spine itself can become misaligned exactly where it hurts, irritating muscles, nerves, and ligaments in that area.The pelvis and low back are the foundation of your spine. When it becomes misaligned, it can create misalignment of the mid back. The neck can cause the same.
3. Spinal misalignment of the Neck or Low Back: Often a pain in the mid back is a compensation for misalignment of the low back and pelvis, or in the neck. These areas can become misaligned and the mid back acts like a ‘kinking point’ for these issues. The spine is connected, and in this case the trouble with the mid back won’t be relieved until the true cause of the problem elsewhere is corrected.
4. Something else: On the very rare occasion a patient has an issue with their mid back that isn’t caused by spinal or rib misalignment. This could be something like a past injury that resulted in a spinal fracture, arthritis, or kidney or other internal organ or digestive issue radiating to the back, for example. This is usually not the issue, however.
What can be done about it?
In the first 3 cases where a misalignment is the issue, careful analysis must be used to find the rib or spinal misalignment, and then chiropractic adjustment used to correct it. At our office Progressive Chiropractic in Victoria, BC we use excellent technology to help us do this.
As an individual gets stronger and their pain becomes more manageable we will recommend simple strengthening and flexibility exercises for the mid back to help maintain proper alignment in this area.
Who do you know that needs help? There is hope- contact us today!