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Middle Back Pain: A Springfield, IL Chiropractor’s Perspective

The mid-back is one of the most common locations for people to experience pain. Typically defined by the thoracic spine between T5 and T12, the middle back contains key areas between the shoulder blades and the thoracolumbar junction where the spine’s curvature changes direction.

The thoracic spine’s curve is known as a “kyphotic” curve, which is different from what is seen in both the neck and lower back (they have a “lordotic” curve). This differentiation is significant because the thoracic spine’s curve balances out the curves in the lower back and neck, allowing the spine to act like a spring with tremendous shock-absorbing capabilities. When any of these curves are lost or exaggerated, the function of the spine and how it handles force dramatically diminishes.

One unique aspect of the thoracic spine is that this is where the ribs attach at each corresponding level. This makes the thoracic spine quite a stable structure, with the least amount of movement of the three key sections of the spine. This also makes the likelihood of injuries such as disc bulges or herniations quite rare in the thoracic spine because the ribs keep everything much more intact, especially in the posterior aspect of the spine.

Traditionally, people seeking medical care for middle back pain have a few different options, starting with the least invasive. They will usually be given pain medications or muscle relaxers in hopes that eventually the pain will just go away on its own. Other times, they will be sent to physical therapy to work on exercises and stretches to help the problem. If that is not helping, more invasive measures such as injections or surgery may be taken. However, other options are less invasive and arguably just as, if not more effective. Chiropractic, for example, is one of the best ways to address middle back pain. Many of the root causes of middle back pain can be addressed through chiropractic adjustments and other therapies commonly seen in chiropractic offices. Addressing that root cause is vital, and chiropractors are experts at identifying them in this region of the spine.

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How We Treat Middle Back Pain in Springfield, IL

Comprehensive Consultation and Examination

At the Springfield Wellness Center, your first visit will consist of a thorough consultation and history and a detailed examination of the problem you are presenting. Our doctors will sit down during the consultation and listen to your story. They want to know details about the pain, how long it has been a problem for you, and how it affects your daily activities and quality of life. By getting this information, our doctors are getting to know you and learning what is important to you. Getting you back to living the life you want to live is our highest priority, so we have to find out what that life looks like to help get you there.

During the examination, our doctors will go through many tests such as orthopedic, neurologic, and movement tests that help identify the cause of the problem. Based on the findings of this exam, along with your health goals, our doctors will then give you their best recommendations for care and how to meet those goals. Chiropractic is done with you, not done for you, so they will outline what YOU need to do to help get the best results in conjunction with the work they are doing in the office.

Specific Chiropractic Care in Springfield, IL

Chiropractic is the practice by which chiropractors identify and correct subluxations in the spine. The thoracic spine is the largest section of the spine, so it is a common location for subluxation. When subluxation is present, it affects how the nerves at that level are able to function, which can cause many different symptoms, commonly pain. Chiropractic corrects this through the adjustment, in which the doctor uses his hands to help move the section of the spine back into its correct position. This allows the nerves to get back to functioning normally and allows the joints to move more freely. Because many people have been subluxated for a long time, it can take time for your condition to resolve fully. It is best to stick with your doctor’s care plan recommendations to get the best results.

Massage Therapy and Soft Tissue Work

In the middle back, many large muscle groups play a crucial role in keeping our spine stable, our posture upright, and our mobility intact. However, due to postural distortions, those muscles can become imbalanced, tight, and limiting. For this reason, the soft tissue aspect of any middle back problem must be appropriately addressed. At the Springfield Wellness Center, we have Licensed Massage Therapists on our staff to work with patients to help reduce muscle tightness and tension and help restore balance to the muscles around the spine. This can help decrease pain, improve circulation, and improve the overall healing of the original problem. If massage therapy doesn’t interest you, our doctors are also trained in soft tissue treatment techniques that can help break up muscle adhesions that cause pain and tension. Using either their hands or metal tools, they are able to not only restore proper muscle function but also help improve posture.

Custom Therapeutic Exercise

One of the most common causes of middle back pain is poor posture, so our mission at the Springfield Wellness Center is to help you address this. Many people have jobs that involve sitting at a desk behind a computer screen, and over time this causes postural changes such as the shoulders rolling forward or the head sliding forward. Over time, these changes cause things like neck pain, upper back pain, and middle back pain. Our doctors will analyze your posture and come up with the proper corrective exercise plan for you to work on with our trainer in our functional fitness area. Everybody has unique needs, and our trainer will work with you to address those needs, regardless of your fitness level. Remember, this is a place of healing, not a gym. You are there to heal and optimize your function. At the end of your treatment plan, your doctor will re-check your posture so you can see the changes that are happening and celebrate those wins.

Deep Tissue Laser

Inflammation plays a significant role in how we experience pain. It is very irritating to nerves and other delicate tissues, and this can cause pain and dysfunction. In the middle back, this inflammation can be from spine subluxation, rib subluxation (“rib out of place”), or some other type of impact trauma. When it comes to combating inflammation, our preferred treatment method is Deep Tissue Laser. It uses near-infrared light energy that penetrates deep into the tissue down to the cellular level. Stimulating the cell in this way ramps up energy production, combating inflammation and an accelerated healing process. This means helping the problem area faster and getting you the results you want more quickly. It only takes about 3-5 minutes for treatment, and it is easy and pain-free.

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Common Causes of Middle Back Pain

Posture Problem

As discussed, posture is usually the most common cause of middle back pain. Our posture is a direct reflection of the health of our spine, so if our posture is poor, our spine health is also almost certainly inadequate. Good posture relies on a delicate balance of the muscles surrounding, supporting, and moving the middle back. Lack of activity can cause muscles to get too tight or weak, and the spine is vulnerable to distortion. This distortion is common in people with sedentary lifestyles, desk jobs, and other repetitive stress activities. Even small changes to our posture can cause pressure on the spinal cord, which can significantly affect the nervous system. Posture is one of the most effective anti-aging strategies we have complete control over. Optimizing your posture and strengthening it long-term can mean maintaining optimal function long into your later years.


Subluxation occurs when an individual bone or section of the spine is out of alignment. When this happens, it can cause irritation and inflammation to the nerves, which can cause pain either at the source or anywhere along that nerve pathway. Chiropractors are the only health care providers expertly trained to identify and correct subluxations in the spine. They use their hands to perform chiropractic adjustments, restoring proper alignment and mobility to the affected area. This reduces pain and restores the body to a position where the nervous system can function optimally, allowing the person to heal. Your chiropractor will give you a treatment plan outlining the number and frequency of visits to get the best results from your care.

Muscle Strain

Many different muscle groups surround and move the thoracic spine and middle back. The erector muscles actually start in the pelvis but travel through the middle back and are responsible for keeping us upright as human beings. There are also muscles such as the rhomboid muscles that play a significant role in how our shoulder blades track and move across the back synonymously with arm movements. Because there are so many muscles and so many movements involved, it can be easy for one of the muscles to become strained. A muscle strain occurs when part of the muscle’s fibers is damaged. This causes inflammation and pain and can limit how well you can move. Muscle strains usually need some time to heal on their own, but they can be assisted in that process by treatments such as massage therapy and deep tissue laser therapy. Addressing the inflammation and helping the muscles heal can make a big difference and help resolve the issue quicker than just by letting time do the work.

Rib Subluxation

One cause of pain unique to the thoracic spine is rib subluxation, in which there is subluxation in the joint where the rib meets the spine. This acutely painful condition causes sharp pain, especially when the ribcage expands and contracts as the lungs inflate and deflate. Rib subluxations can be debilitating at times and often require immediate care. Chiropractic care is the best way to address rib subluxation, and often there is instant relief after a chiropractic adjustment. Once the rib subluxation is corrected, the work begins on strengthening and stabilizing that part of the spine so the joint can be stronger and not subluxate as much in the future.


Scoliosis is a condition that is usually idiopathic, meaning there isn’t really a known cause for it. It usually starts from a very young age and develops over time. In scoliosis, the spine curves from side to side in addition to the normal front to back lordotic and kyphotic curves. These side-to-side curves add a great deal of stress and imbalance to the spine and nervous system. Some people have scoliosis and have zero issues with it, while others have problems that require surgical intervention. The thoracic spine is one of the most commonly seen areas that is affected by scoliosis. It usually causes one shoulder to be markedly higher than the other, in addition to other postural distortions. If severe enough, it can even affect the lungs by altering the shape of the ribcage. Chiropractic is beneficial for scoliosis, but it is ideal to receive care when you are still skeletally immature and changes can still be made. If you wait until your 30s or 40s to begin care for scoliosis, there may not be many structural changes that are possible, even though pain can still be relieved.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a chiropractor in Springfield, IL help with middle back pain?

Yes, the chiropractors at The Springfield Wellness Center have helped thousands of people with middle back pain, and we can certainly help you too. We will identify what is causing your pain and give you the right treatment plan to get you out of pain and help keep you out of pain. Chiropractic, combined with other treatments, helps the whole person heal in the right way.

Will my middle back pain go away by itself?

In some cases, such as a muscle strain, the pain can go away by itself over time. However, if a subluxation causes pain in the spine or a rib, that pain will persist until it is addressed. It is not wise to wait a long time to correct these problems. Chronic issues are more difficult and time-consuming to correct.

How can you tell if your spine is out of alignment?

The only way to tell if your spine is really out of alignment is to have it checked by a chiropractor. Yes, you may experience pain and think it is an alignment issue, but you won’t know for sure unless an expert checks it. Pain could be from other types of problems, such as a muscle strain, so it is wise to be proactive and get it appropriately examined so you can work towards fixing the problem.

How do you fix chronic middle back pain?

A chronic problem is always a more stubborn issue to fix because the body gets so used to it being there that it actually thinks it is normal. With that in mind, it takes time to change what the body thinks is normal and have it adapt to the necessary changes to fix the problem. Regular chiropractic care and posture correction exercises are the keys to fixing a chronic back issue.

When should I worry about middle back pain?

Everybody worries about their pain or problems to different degrees, but it’s important to listen vigilantly to what your body is telling you. If you have pain or another type of symptom, it’s important to listen to your body and find out what is causing it. Most of the time, it will be a routine problem to fix, but you never know if something more serious could be happening. It is always best to be safe and seek care when you experience symptoms.

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