Understanding Thoracic Back Pain: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Thoracic back pain, although less common than neck or lower back pain, can still be a significant source of discomfort and disability for many individuals. This type of pain affects the thoracic spine, which is located between the base of the neck and the bottom of the rib cage. It includes twelve vertebrae, labeled T1 through T12, which are connected to the ribs. In this blog post, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for thoracic back pain, emphasizing the comprehensive approach used at Texas Spine & Pain.

What Causes Thoracic Back Pain?

Thoracic back pain can stem from a variety of causes, ranging from acute injuries to chronic degenerative conditions. Key contributors include:

1. Muscular Strain

Overuse or sudden, forceful movement can lead to muscle strains, which are among the most common causes of thoracic back pain. These strains can occur from repetitive activities or improper lifting techniques.

2. Vertebral Fractures

Fractures of the thoracic vertebrae, often caused by traumatic events or conditions like osteoporosis, can result in severe back pain.

3. Intervertebral Disc Disorders

While less frequent in the thoracic than in the lumbar spine, disc degeneration or herniation can press on nerves and cause pain.

4. Spinal Stenosis

Narrowing of the spinal canal in the thoracic area can compress the spinal cord and nerves, leading to pain and other symptoms.

5. Osteoarthritis

The wear and tear of cartilage in the thoracic spine joints can lead to osteoarthritis, causing pain and stiffness.

6. Postural Stress

Poor posture, especially in individuals who sit for prolonged periods or repeatedly lift heavy objects, can lead to chronic stress on the thoracic spine.

Symptoms of Thoracic Back Pain

The symptoms of thoracic back pain can vary depending on the underlying cause but typically include:

  • Localized Pain: Sharp or dull pain centered in the mid-back region.
  • Radiating Pain: Pain that spreads to the chest, abdomen, or lower back.
  • Muscle Tension: Stiffness and tightness in the surrounding muscles.
  • Numbness or Tingling: These sensations may occur if there is nerve compression.
  • Weakness: In more severe cases, especially those involving nerve compression, there might be weakness in the legs or torso.

Treatment Options

At Texas Spine & Pain, we tailor treatment plans based on the specific cause of the thoracic back pain and the individual needs of each patient. Treatment strategies include:

1. Physical Therapy

Physical therapists design personalized exercise programs that strengthen back muscles, improve flexibility, and reduce pain. They also teach proper posture and ergonomics to help manage symptoms.

2. Medications

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen may be used to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. In more severe cases, stronger pain relievers may be prescribed under careful supervision.

3. Interventional Treatments

Epidural Steroid Injections: These can help reduce inflammation and pain by delivering steroids directly into the epidural space around the spinal cord.

Nerve Blocks: If pain is caused by nerve irritation, a nerve block can be used to temporarily interrupt pain signals.

4. Surgery

Surgery is considered only when conservative treatments fail and if there is a specific structural problem, such as a herniated disc or severe spinal stenosis that is causing significant pain and neurological symptoms.


Thoracic back pain can significantly impact daily life, but with the right approach, it can be managed effectively. At Texas Spine & Pain, we are committed to diagnosing the underlying cause of your pain and providing the most effective treatments available to alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life. If you’re experiencing persistent mid-back pain, don’t wait for it to worsen. Contact Texas Spine & Pain for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan.


The information provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. For specialized services, contact Texas Spine & Pain or other related doctors.

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