If you have back pain, it can be difficult to identify which part of your back it originates from. You might think you have upper back pain if it’s at the top of your back, but this is actually defined as middle back pain. Middle back pain (also known as thoracic back pain) is when the pain is above the bottom of your ribs (about where your waist sits) between your shoulder blades and below your neck. The pain may be a dull, constant ache or a sudden, sharp pain that makes it difficult to move around.
Pain in the thoracic area may well have an obvious cause, for example, cutting a hedge or doing some lifting or gardening. You may have “strained” a muscle playing sport, although sometimes the pain may come on for no apparent reason. It used to be thought that poor posture or carrying backpacks led to thoracic pain, though the research doesn’t really back this up. It is now thought that prolonged postures of any type may lead to pain, and that generally the best advice is to not be in any one position too long as the spine likes to be regularly moved. Thoracic pain also be associated with stress, worry or feeling low. Adults with thoracic pain commonly have aches and pains elsewhere in their body. People who sit for long periods (more than seven hours per day) or those who are less active (less than 150 minutes per week) tend to have more stiffness and pain in the thoracic spine. Trauma to the thoracic spine can cause pain which can commonly take some weeks or months to resolve. Movement and normal activity is very important to enable the body to heal.