Pain Edu: Mid-Back/Rib

Pain Edu: Mid-Back/Rib

What is mid-back pain?

Though the thoracic spine, or mid-back, is less prone to injury than the lower back it can still be a source of discomfort and pain. The rib cage can also be a problem area which can have the added irritation of painful breathing. These troubles may be caused by injury, osteoarthritis, poor posture, or other issues.

Pain Edu: Intro To Mid-Back and rib pain

Are you experiencing pain or problems in the middle of your back or ribs? Click on this video to learn more about low back pain and steps you can take to decrease your pain.

The main types of mid-back and rib pain

Rib Dysfunction

Rib Dysfunction

Rib dysfunction is a general term that describes when ribs move incorrectly or not at all. While pain can be severe it can be alleviated and is commonly treated with Physical Therapy..

Disc Injuries

Disc Injuries

Disc injuries (bulge, herniation, degeneration) are a common cause for back pain. the disc acts to absorb shock during the body’s daily activities and keeps the vertebrae (bones in the spine) separated. When damaged, the disc can create pressure on the nerve or spinal cord and cause pain in the mid-back.



Like arthritis, costochondritis is an inflammation. In the case of costochrondritis it occurs in the connective tissue between upper ribs and sternum



Arthritis is the wearing out or degeneration of the joints leading to pain in the joints of the thoracic spine. This can be caused by trauma/injury, repetitive movements over time, or normal conditions of aging.

Muscle Sprains & Strains

Muscle Sprains & Strains

Muscle sprains and strains are the most common source of pain to the mid-part of the back and can be caused by something as routine as bending over, playing golf, or not practicing proper posture.

Postural Problems

Postural Problems

Poor posture causes undue stress on the muscles, joints, and ligaments of the spine. These problems are getting more and more common as people are increasingly sitting in front of their computers and gadgets.

What can you do about your mid-back pain?

The solution to your back or rib pain depends on the source of your pain and type of injury you may have sustained. The first step is to consult with your doctor and discuss their recommendations for treating the pain in your back or ribs. Your doctor may recommend restrictions on specific activities, medication and/or physical therapy. You can try the following steps now to help alleviate your pain.



It is important when you are experiencing pain in the middle of your back or ribs to limit your activity and rest so that you can heal.


cold packs

Apply cold packs to your back 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 leg, hip, and back muscles can be the first step in helping to loosen up your back and decrease the pain.


Physical therapy

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.

Exercises for mid-back pain

The following are exercises that you can try to help decrease your back 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.

Thoracic Foam Roll

Prayer Stretch

Framing the Door

Cat Cow Movement Exercise

Latissimus dorsi stretches

Seated Twist

What can we do about your mid-back/rib pain?

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