Pain 101: Mid-Back & Rib Pain
What is Mid-Back & Rib Pain?
Middle back pain consists of problems in the thoracic spine which is the middle region of the spine, along with the rib cage which attaches into this part of the spine and wraps around to the front of the chest.
The thoracic spine (or mid back) is a very large part of the spine, with many joints and muscles in this region- all which can be a source of pain.
Types of Mid-Back & Rib Pain
Muscle Strain or Sprains
This is a very common source of pain and injury in this part of the back. Muscle strains and sprains commonly occur from bending down to pick something up, irritation from repetitive activity, or playing a sport. There are many muscles in this part of the spine and rib cage. When these get injured they can get inflamed and extremely tender and sore and end up causing pain with daily activities.
Postural problems are a growing trend due to increasing amount of people using computers, sitting for long periods, and commuting to work.This can lead to poor posture which causes significant stress on the muscles that run down the spine along with irritation of the joints and ligaments in this region, which can lead to significant pain.
Disc Herniation/degeneration is where the discs are meant to provide cushion and spacing between the vertebral bodies. Discs can also become injured and bulge out or herniated. Discs can also become degenerated or wear out over time. Both of these conditions can lead to pain in the low back or pain that radiates.
Arthritis and Degeneration
This is another very common source of pain, primarily seen with aging. Over time the joints in this region can become arthritic and begin to wear out causing pain and limitation with movement. In addition the vertebral bodies can begin to degenerate over time, causing decreased height which can lead to pain and possible irritation of the nerves.
Pain in the ribs can be caused by an injury, a fall, or even poor posture. This can lead to irritation of the joints where they attach in the mid-back, or the muscles running between each rib. This can lead to pain in the mid-back or pain that wraps around the side.
Ribs attach in the mid-back and wrap around to connect to the sternum in the chest area. When ribs become injured, they can lead to pain in the muscles or joints in the chest region.
STEPS TO MID-BACK & RIB PAIN RELIEF
It is important when you are experiencing mid-back or rib pain to limit your activity and rest so that your back can heal.
Apply cold packs to your mid-back or ribs to help decrease your pain and inflammation in the joints and muscles. To prevent damage to skin and surrounding tissue, cold packs should only be applied in 15 minute intervals.
If you don’t have increased pain with movement, stretching the back muscles can be the first step in helping to loosen up your back and decrease the pain.
Physical therapy consists of hands-on treatment to loosen muscles and joints, education on proper posture and movement to decrease pain, instruction on stretching and strengthening exercises to restore mobility and strength, and modalities such as electrical stimulation, cold/heat and ultrasound.
MID-BACK & RIB PAIN EXERCISES
Following are a few exercises you can perform that may help alleviate pain. Please go to LIFE+ for more videos that may help you. Please consult your physician before trying these, and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort.