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January 2024

Mid Back Pain 101: Symptoms, 8 Pain Relief Tips and Exercises

Mid back pain, a common ailment that affects a vast majority of the adult population at some point in their lives, can stem from a variety of causes including poor posture, muscle strain, or more serious conditions like herniated discs. 

As we delve into this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything from the common symptoms of middle back pain to the underlying causes and effective strategies for pain relief. 

By the end of this article, you’ll have the insights and resources to effectively address and manage mid-back pain.

Jump to:


Understanding and Treating Mid Back Pain: Comprehensive Guide

Have you ever experienced that nagging pain in the middle of your back after a long day at work or following an intense workout session? You’re not alone. Mid back pain, often overlooked compared to its notorious counterparts – lower and upper back pain, can be equally debilitating. What is the Middle Back?

The middle back, or the thoracic spine, is an intricate structure between your rib cage and the base of your neck. This crucial region comprises 12 spinal disks, several vertebrae, and a network of muscles and ligaments. Understanding this area’s complexity is key to recognizing how various ailments can affect it. 

Causes of Mid Back Pain:

  • Acute Injuries: Think of sudden impacts or accidents leading to herniated discs or muscle strains.
  • Lifestyle and Chronic Conditions: Poor posture, chronic diseases like arthritis (including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis), and lifestyle factors such as obesity significantly contribute to mid back pain.

Specific Types of Mid Back Pain:

  • Middle Back Pain: General issues related to the thoracic spine.
  • Middle Side Back Pain: This includes conditions like rib cage involvement or muscle imbalances, often resulting from uneven weight distribution or scoliosis.

Symptoms Overview:

Mid back pain can manifest in various ways, including:

  • Dull, aching pain
  • Sharp or stabbing sensations
  • Difficulty with movements like twisting or bending
  • Tingling or numbness in severe cases

Treatment Options:

Each type of mid back pain requires a tailored approach:

  • Medical treatments and physical therapy for specific conditions.
  • Home remedies and exercises for less severe cases.
  • Lifestyle modifications, such as weight management and posture correction, play a crucial role in both treatment and prevention.


Preventing mid back pain is as important as treating it. Regular exercise, proper lifting techniques, and maintaining a healthy weight can go a long way in keeping your mid back healthy.

Seeking Help:

Don’t hesitate to seek medical attention if you experience severe pain, numbness, or other symptoms that disrupt your daily life. Early intervention can prevent complications.

Effective Exercises and Remedies for Pain Relief

Exercise 1: Cat-Cow Stretch

woman demonstrating cow stretch for mid back pain

This involves alternating between arching your back upwards (like a cat) and sinking it downwards (like a cow). It’s a gentle flow that warms up the spine and eases tension in the upper and middle back. Regular practice can promote better spinal flexibility and encourage good posture.

Benefit: Relieves tension in the upper and middle back, promoting good posture.

Exercise 2: Thoracic Extension

woman doing thoracic extension exercise for mid back pain

The thoracic region of the spine, located in the middle part of the back between the cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) areas, is a crucial segment for upper body movement and stability. 

This exercise specifically targets this region, which often becomes stiff due to prolonged sitting or desk work. By focusing on extending the thoracic spine, this exercise aids in maintaining a healthy curvature of the back. This not only helps in improving posture but also can alleviate discomfort caused by stiffness in this area.

Benefit: Helps with thoracic spine stiffness, especially due to desk jobs.

Exercise 3: Child’s Pose

woman doing yoga in child's pose

A classic yoga pose, Child’s Pose involves sitting back on your heels with your forehead touching the ground and arms extended forward. This posture stretches the lower and middle back, providing relief and a sense of calm. It’s particularly beneficial for those who experience lower back pain due to stress or muscle tightness.

Benefit: Stretches the lower middle back and is calming, ideal for those who experience lower back pain.

Exercise 4: Seated Twist

a man doing seated twist

This involves twisting your torso while seated, which can help in stretching and relieving tension in the middle and side areas of the back. This twist can also aid in digestion and maintain spinal mobility.

Benefit: This aids in relieving middle-side back pain.

Exercise 5: Foam Rolling

demo of foam rolling exercise for mid back pain

Foam rolling involves using a foam cylinder to self-massage and release muscle tightness or trigger points in your back. It can break down knots and improve blood flow in the spinal area, enhancing overall back health and flexibility.

Benefit: Breaks down knots and improves blood flow within the spinal column.

Exercise 6: Stretching with Resistance Bands

stretching with resistance band to help with mid back pain

Using resistance bands for stretching can significantly improve flexibility and range of motion, especially in the lumbar (lower) region of the back. This type of stretching is gentle yet effective in strengthening back muscles.

Benefit: Increases flexibility and range of motion, particularly in the lumbar region.

Exercise 7: Pilates Core Work

a woman doing pilates core work

Pilates focuses on strengthening the core muscles, which are crucial for supporting the mid-back. Strengthening these muscles through Pilates can reduce the risk of back injuries, especially during sports or physical activities.

Benefit: Strengthens the muscles supporting the mid back, mitigating the risk of sports injury.

Remedy 1: Hot and Cold Therapy

Applying heat can relax and soothe stiff muscles, while cold therapy can reduce inflammation and numb sore areas. This therapy is particularly effective for muscle spasms and can provide immediate relief for back pain.

Benefit: Reduces inflammation and soothes muscle spasms in the back muscles.

Remedy 2: Massage Therapy

Massage therapy helps in relaxing tight muscles, improving circulation, and reducing stress. It’s particularly effective for easing tension in the mid-back region, which is a common source of discomfort.

Benefit: Eases muscle tension in the mid back, which is a common cause of middle back pain.

Remedy 3: Over-the-counter medication

Medications like Advil and Ibuprofen can offer temporary relief from acute mid-back pain. They work by reducing inflammation and alleviating pain, making them a viable option for short-term pain management.

Benefit: Temporary relief for acute mid back pain, with options like Advil and ibuprofen.


When should I worry about mid-back pain?

Consult a healthcare provider if your pain is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other worrying symptoms like numbness or if it demands medical attention.

What causes pain in the middle of your back?

Often due to muscle or ligament strain, but can also be a sign of a pinched nerve or arthritis.

How do you get rid of a middle backache?

Employ targeted exercises, apply hot or cold therapy, and engage in physical therapy when necessary.

What are the red flags for middle back pain?

Red flags include sudden weakness, loss of bowel or bladder control, or unexplained weight loss, indicating the need for immediate medical attention.

How do you relieve mid back pain fast?

For quick relief, over-the-counter pain relievers, hot or cold packs, and gentle stretches are recommended.

How do you diagnose mid back pain?

A spine specialist or physical therapist can diagnose mid back pain through a physical exam and possibly imaging tests like an x-ray.

What is the best way to relieve mid back pain?

A combination of rest, exercises, and therapy such as physical therapy often offers the best outcome.

What is the difference between a middle backache and lower back pain?

Middle back pain is centered around the thoracic spine, while lower back pain is focused on the lumbar spine.

For a tailored approach to treat middle back pain, remember to take our pain survey on the homepage. This will help you explore the specific causes of your discomfort and guide you toward the most effective treatment options.

Take Charge of Your Mid Back Pain

As we conclude, remember that managing mid back pain is about understanding the various facets of this condition—from the different types of mid back pain, their possible causes, common symptoms, and treatment options, including healthcare advice and lifestyle changes, is key to effective management and relief. 

Whether it’s chronic pain from a car accident, degeneration, inflammatory conditions like spondylitis, or compression fractures, consulting a healthcare provider and considering treatment options such as physical therapy or spine specialist advice is crucial.

With the exercises and tips provided, plus a personalized plan, you’re on the right track to regaining comfort and getting back into the swing of life. Your back supports you every day—let’s make sure you have the tools to support it in return.


Whats Next?

Other Articles

Chronic pain can deeply impact your daily life, often remaining hidden but constantly felt. Thankfully, modern medical technology offers innovative solutions for managing this pain. One promising treatment is the spinal cord stimulator (SCS), a device that uses mild electrical impulses to ease pain, providing significant relief and enabling a return to daily activities. This blog will dive into the workings of the spinal cord stimulator, examining how it functions, the necessary precautions post-implantation, and practical tips for recovery. Discover how a spinal cord stimulator could improve your quality of life by significantly reducing pain, allowing for greater mobility, and a return to activities you love. Jump to:  

What is a Spinal Cord Stimulator For?

A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) is an implanted device designed to help manage chronic pain by sending low levels of electricity directly into the spinal cord. The main purpose of the SCS is to mask pain signals before they reach the brain, offering relief to individuals whose chronic pain has not responded to other treatments.  This technology is particularly beneficial for managing conditions like severe spinal cord injuries, chronic back and neck pain, limb pain, and neuropathic pain disorders such as diabetic neuropathy and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Key Components of a Spinal Cord Stimulator:
  • Leads- These thin wires are crucial for delivering electrical pulses to specific areas of the spinal cord.
  • Pulse Generator- This battery-powered device generates the pulses. It often features rechargeable batteries to enhance long-term efficiency and sustainability.
  • Remote Control- This device enables patients to adjust the intensity of the pulses. Adjusting the pulse intensity is essential for optimizing the neuromodulation process, allowing patients to tailor the stimulation according to their pain relief needs.

Spinal Cord Stimulator Permanent Restrictions

SCS offers significant benefits in managing chronic pain and while there are no permanent restrictions after spinal cord stimulator implant surgery, it is important to be aware of temporary limitations and lifestyle considerations after the procedure. Temporary Activity Limitations 
  • Avoid Water Immersion - To prevent infection, activities such as bathing, swimming, or using hot tubs are prohibited.
  • Limit Physical Movements - Bending, twisting, stretching, or jumping should be avoided to ensure the leads and surgical site heal properly.
  • Avoid Heavy Lifting - Heavy lifting should be avoided until cleared by a healthcare professional.
  • Be Cautious with Electronics - Avoid close proximity to strong magnetic fields, such as those from MRI machines or industrial equipment.
   Lifestyle Considerations
  • Pay Attention to Diet and Nutrition - Having an implant inside your body might affect your health, so it's essential to focus on a balanced diet. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins while cutting back on processed foods and excess sugar.
  • Engage in a Healthy Lifestyle - Adopt a healthy lifestyle by incorporating light exercise, such as walking or yoga, as recommended by your doctor. Avoid smoking, limit alcohol, and ensure you get enough sleep and rest.
  • Carry Your SCS Information - Carry documentation about your SCS when traveling, especially through airports or security checkpoints, as metal detectors might affect the device.
  • Learn Device Maintenance - Learn how to care for and operate your SCS, including charging, cleaning, or remote operation.

Tips for a Successful Recovery After Spinal Cord Stimulator Surgery

Recovering from spinal cord stimulator (SCS) surgery is a critical period that generally spans several weeks, with the first two weeks being particularly crucial for healing. Here’s a more detailed timeline and specific tips to help you navigate the recovery process effectively: Two Weeks Post-Surgery:
  1. Strict Rest - During these initial two weeks, your primary focus should be on healing. Limit your physical activity to very light tasks. Avoid any strenuous activity that could disturb the surgical site or the positioning of the spinal cord stimulator leads.
  2. Pain Management - Adhere closely to your prescribed medication schedule to manage pain effectively. This not only helps with comfort but also with reducing inflammation and promoting healing.
  3. Wound Care - Follow your surgeon's instructions for caring for the surgical site, which may include keeping the area clean and dry to prevent infection.
  3-6 Weeks Post-Surgery:
  1. Gradual Activity Increase - After the first two weeks, if your doctor agrees, start reintroducing more physical activity into your routine. Begin with light walking and gradually include activities that do not involve twisting, bending, or lifting heavy objects.
  2. Regular Check-ups - Continue to see your healthcare provider as scheduled. These visits are essential to assess the healing of your surgical site and the function of your SCS device.
  Long-term Recovery:
  1. Return to Regular Routine - From six weeks onwards, you might be able to slowly return to more normal activities, including some that you enjoyed prior to surgery. Always check with your healthcare provider on the types of activities that are safe for you.
  2. Monitoring Device Function - Regular follow-ups should continue, possibly including device adjustments. These appointments are crucial to ensure the stimulator settings are optimized for pain management without causing discomfort or side effects.

To Sum Up

Living with a spinal cord stimulator means adapting to a new normal where pain management becomes more feasible. Although the device does not impose permanent restrictions, understanding and adhering to the temporary limitations post-surgery is crucial for optimal results.  If you're contemplating this step, it's crucial to engage with experienced neurosurgeons who will not only explain the benefits and intricacies of the SCS but also customize the treatment to fit your specific needs. They'll provide you with comprehensive information on how to manage your recovery and adapt to life with the device.  Are you ready to transform your approach to pain management? Discover more about how a spinal cord stimulator can change your life. Fill out our evaluation form  today and start your journey toward a more active and fulfilling life without the burden of unmanaged pain.  

Spinal Cord Stimulator Surgery FAQs

What are the benefits of spinal cord stimulator surgery? 

The primary benefit is significant pain reduction, which can lead to improved mobility, less reliance on pain medications, and a better overall quality of life.

Can I drive with a spinal cord stimulator? 

It is recommended not to have the stimulator turned on while driving or operating heavy machinery. However, being a passenger is generally safe with the device on.

What happens when my spinal cord stimulator malfunctions? 

If a malfunction occurs, symptoms might include loss of pain relief or unusual sensations. Contact your doctor immediately to address the issue. Regular follow-ups and device checks can help mitigate such risks.  


Are you ready to bid farewell to relentless neck or back discomfort? Artificial Disc Replacement (ADR) emerges as a viable solution, offering a promising alternative to conventional spinal fusion surgeries by replacing troublesome discs with an artificial counterpart. This procedure not only promises significant pain relief but also maintains spinal flexibility. Despite the potential risks inherent in any surgical procedure, complications with ADR, such as infection or implant issues, remain relatively uncommon and are diligently mitigated by experienced spine surgeons. If you aspire to reclaim your daily routines minus the burden of pain, ADR stands as a compelling option. Let's explore whether this avenue aligns with your unique health requirements and lifestyle. Jump to:  

What Does Artificial Disc Replacement Treat?

ADR primarily treats conditions stemming from issues with intervertebral discs, particularly chronic pain in the cervical spine that hasn't responded to other treatments. One of the primary conditions treated is degenerative disc disease, where the disc deteriorates or breaks down, leading to pain, weakness, or numbness. The procedure involves removing the damaged disc and replacing it with an artificial one, which can significantly alleviate the symptoms associated with the damaged disc.

Procedure Process and Effectiveness

Artificial Disc Replacement (ADR) offers significant improvement in pain relief and mobility for many patients with severe disc-related issues. The procedure involves three key stages:
  1. Preparation: Doctors use MRI and flexion extension X-rays of the cervical spine to evaluate spinal health and select a compatible artificial disc, ensuring that the chosen disc matches the patient's spinal anatomy precisely.
  2. Surgery: Performed under general anesthesia, the surgery includes removing the damaged disc from either the neck or lower back, inserting a custom-fitted artificial disc, and closing the incision with surgical precision.
  3. Recovery: Patients typically spend a few days in the hospital for initial recovery, followed by pain management and physical therapy to enhance recovery and monitor the disc’s function.
ADR's effectiveness is notable, with satisfaction rates often exceeding 80%, significantly reducing pain and restoring spinal mobility. However, the costs of this surgical procedure can vary widely, generally ranging from $35,000 to $100,000, influenced by the procedure's complexity and geographical factors.  

9 Common Problems with Artificial Disc Replacement

While artificial disc replacement surgery offers numerous benefits for spine health, especially in the cervical spine areas, it also comes with potential complications. Here are the common issues that patients experience:

#1 Infection

Infections following artificial disc replacement can manifest as redness, swelling, pain, or discharge at the incision area. More severe cases may involve the infection spreading to the artificial disc itself, potentially leading to systemic symptoms such as fever or chills. Treatment options typically involve antibiotics, but severe infections may require additional spine surgery to remove infected tissue or the implant.

#2 Implant Failure

Implant failure in disc arthroplasty can result from mechanical wear and tear, improper placement during surgery, or the body's inability to integrate the implant. This may lead to pain, decreased mobility, or the necessity for revision surgery to replace or reposition the disc.

#3 Spinal Stenosis

Development of spinal stenosis after artificial disc replacement involves the narrowing of the spinal canal, which can compress the spinal cord or nerve roots. This condition often leads to symptoms like pain, numbness, or weakness in the legs or arms, and may require further treatment to alleviate the nerve compression.

#4 Adjacent Segment Disease

Adjacent segment disease occurs when the vertebrae adjacent to the site of an artificial disc replacement experience increased stress and begin to degenerate. This additional load can lead to conditions similar to those which necessitated the disc replacement initially, such as pain and reduced spinal mobility, potentially requiring further surgical interventions.

#5 Neck Pain

Some patients may continue to experience neck pain or develop new pain after artificial disc replacement. This discomfort can be a result of the body adjusting to the artificial disc, inflammation from the surgical procedure, or unresolved spinal issues.

#6 Nerve Injury

The precision required in artificial disc replacement poses a risk of accidental nerve damage. This can happen if surgical tools inadvertently nick or compress nerves near the surgical site. Such injuries can cause symptoms ranging from mild sensory disturbances to more severe motor deficits, depending on the nerve affected.

#7 Dysphagia

Commonly associated with cervical disc replacement, dysphagia is a complication where patients experience difficulty swallowing due to temporary edema or trauma to the esophageal area during surgery. Symptoms typically diminish over time but can significantly impact nutrition and quality of life if persistent.

#8 Paresthesia

Patients might experience paresthesia post-artificial disc replacement, characterized by sensations like tingling, 'pins and needles', or numbness. This is often due to the disruption or irritation of nerves during the disc replacement, and while usually temporary, it can be disconcerting.

#9 Heterotopic Ossification

This condition involves abnormal bone growth in non-skeletal tissues, which can occur around the implant site after disc replacement. Heterotopic ossification can compromise the success of the surgery by limiting spinal mobility and possibly leading to unintended fusion at the affected segment.  

Who is a Candidate for Artificial Disc Replacement?

Candidates for ADR are typically individuals with persistent neck or back pain due to degenerative disc disease who have not found relief through other treatments. Ideal candidates are those without significant joint disease, osteoporosis, or spinal deformities. Factors such as the patient's age, overall health, and the severity of symptoms are considered to determine eligibility for the surgery.  

To Sum Up

Artificial Disc Replacement (ADR) is your pathway to overcoming chronic neck and back pain, all while keeping your spine flexible. This procedure can be a life-changer, but it's not just about the surgery; it involves understanding the risks, potential complications, and ensuring you're a good candidate. Before taking the leap, it's essential to consult with seasoned spine surgeons who can guide you through the benefits and risks, tailoring the approach to your specific needs. Detailed insights about the procedure, recovery expectations, and how to navigate potential challenges are just a consultation away. Ready to take the next step towards a pain-free life? Dive deeper into what ADR can offer you. Fill out our evaluation form today and set up a consultation to explore your options. This could be your moment to reclaim your life from pain.  


How Long Does a TLIF Surgery Take? [Pre-Op Preparation Tips]
Ever find yourself dreaming of a day when back pain doesn't dictate what you can and cannot do? TLIF surgery, short for Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion, might be the game-changer you've been looking for. Let's break it down simply: we're talking about what the surgery involves, how long it takes, and what you need to do to get ready for it. Imagine getting back to all those activities you love, without the constant ache in your back.  That brighter, pain-free future starts with understanding the process, how long does a TLIF surgery take, and gearing up for a smooth surgery and speedy recovery. Jump to:  

How Long Does TLIF Surgery Typically Take?

The duration of TLIF surgery usually spans between three to six hours, but this is a flexible estimate. Various factors can influence the length of the procedure:
  • Complexity of the Spinal Issue - Intricacies like vertebral involvement and scar tissue presence necessitate more time for precise stabilization.
  • Condition Severity - The extent of spinal degradation influences surgery length, with severe cases requiring detailed interventions.
  • Patient Health Profile - Overall health impacts surgery duration, with healthier individuals potentially facing shorter procedures.
  • Surgical Specifics - Details such as bone graft material choice and surgical techniques directly affect the operation time.

How Can You Prepare for TLIF Surgery?

How Can You Prepare for TLIF Surgery_ Preparation is key for a smooth TLIF surgery and recovery. Here are some steps you can take to set yourself up for a positive outcome:
  • Consult with Your Surgeon - An in-depth discussion with your neurosurgeon or spine surgeon about the procedure, recovery expectations, and your specific pre-op instructions are invaluable.
  • Optimize Your Health - Focus on good nutrition, hydration, and, if applicable, reducing or quitting smoking. A healthy body responds and recovers better from surgery. Remember, maintaining a healthy weight is also vital for optimal surgical outcomes.
  • Home Preparation - Ensure your living space is recovery-friendly. Think about creating a comfortable, accessible environment that minimizes the need for bending, stretching, or lifting post-surgery.

Life After TLIF Spine Surgery

Undergoing TLIF spine surgery is a significant step towards overcoming back pain and improving your quality of life. But, what comes next?  Let's break down the recovery process, lifestyle adjustments, and what you can expect as you gradually return to your daily routines—all without the medical mumbo-jumbo.

The Road to Recovery

After TLIF surgery, your journey to a pain-free life begins. Recovery varies from person to person but generally follows a structured path:
  • Initial Weeks - Focus on healing. This means managing discomfort, adhering to prescribed pain medication schedules, and gradually incorporating gentle movements or walks.
  • Physical Therapy - As you gain strength, physical therapy becomes a cornerstone of recovery, helping restore mobility and flexibility in a controlled, progressive manner.

Lifestyle Adjustments & Expectations

Adjusting your lifestyle post-surgery is key to a successful recovery and ensuring long-term health for your spine. This might include:
  • Diet and Nutrition - Eating well helps your body heal and supports your overall health. Think of food as your fuel for recovery.
  • Exercise - Once your doctor gives the green light, regular, gentle exercise will become your best ally in regaining strength and flexibility.
  • Mindfulness and Rest - Pay attention to your body's signals. Rest when you need to, and don't push yourself too hard.

When Can You Resume Regular Activities?

The timeline for returning to your normal life varies. Most patients can start to resume light activities within a few weeks but expect it to take a few months before you're feeling back to your old self. The exact timing depends on your personal health, the complexity of your surgery, and how diligently you follow your recovery plan.

Post-Surgery Restrictions

Post-TLIF Surgery Restrictions After TLIF surgery, there are a few important restrictions to keep in mind to avoid complications and ensure a smooth recovery:
  • Avoid Heavy Lifting - Anything beyond a light grocery bag is too much in the early stages.
  • Beware of Bending and Twisting - These movements put stress on your healing spine. Keep everything you need within easy reach and at a comfortable height.
  • Driving - Put the brakes on driving until your doctor says it's safe to get behind the wheel again, usually after you're off pain medications and can move comfortably.
  • Work - Your return to work depends on the nature of your job. Desk jobs may require a shorter recovery period, while physically demanding jobs will require more time.

To Sum Up

TLIF surgery is like a lifeline for those who are tired of dealing with never-ending back pain. It's got a great track record for cutting down pain and helping people get back to their everyday lives, showing off the cool strides we've made in medicine.  But, getting to that sweet spot of less pain isn't just about having the surgery; it's about getting ready for it, understanding what's going to happen during the procedure, how long does a TLIF surgery take, and afterward, following your doctor's advice for speedy recovery. Remember, this guide is just the beginning. Fill out our evaluation form to explore the treatment options best suited for you. For a more personalized consultation, reach out to Uprite Medical and let experts guide you towards a pain-free future.


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