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Middle back pain

Diagnosis of middle back pain

Your doctor will start by taking a thorough medical history and performing a physical exam. He or she will want to know about your physical activity, work, and the nature of your pain. Your doctor will assess how you sit, stand, walk, and lift your legs to determine where the pain stems from and your range of motion. They will also be looking for muscle spasms and will rule out other conditions.

If your doctor suspects a broken bone or herniated disc, they may order imaging tests such as X-ray or MRI to get a better view of the bones and soft tissue of your back.


Your treatment will depend on the cause of your back pain, as well as your risk factors and medical history. Our goal is to relieve your pain and prevent future problems.

Many cases of middle back pain go away on their own within a few weeks. The following may help your recovery:

  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications
  • Stretching
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Massage

For severe or persistent middle back pain, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain relievers, physical therapy, or a back brace. During treatment, you will likely be able to keep up with your everyday activities to the best of your ability. Staying active is good for your muscles and will be helpful as you heal, especially keeping up with low-impact, spine-neutral activities. Generally, back surgery is the last resort, especially for middle back pain, but it may be necessary.


When you are preparing to see your doctor, it is important to write a list of questions and answers. Some questions to keep in mind are:

  • When did your symptoms first start?
  • Did you have an injury?
  • How severe are your symptoms, and does anything make them better or worse?
  • Do your symptoms ever go away?
  • Have you taken any medications?

Back pain is extremely common, so it is essential to be as detailed as possible when you are explaining your situation to your doctor so they are able to help you.


Most cases of acute middle back pain go away on their own within a few weeks. However, everyone’s pain is different, and back pain is relatively complex. In many cases, if you give yourself time to rest from strenuous activities, work to strengthen the area, and continue practicing good posture, you will be able to manage your back pain at home or with a physical therapist.

If your back pain is structural and does require surgery, recovery will take longer. You will work with your team of doctors to determine the best treatment plan. Patients generally report a noticeable improvement after surgery, despite possible loss of mobility. Surgery remains the last option for treating middle back pain due to recovery time.

The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.