Middle back pain is a common complaint that can be the result of muscle strain or a symptom of many disorders. If the pain persists, your physician should diagnose the underlying cause of the pain, and treatment can be as simple as visiting a chiropractor. However, middle back pain can also be a symptom of a more serious problem---such as pneumonia or a kidney infection---that requires immediate medical attention.
One of the most common causes of middle back pain is back strain. This can be due to heavy lifting or a previous injury. If you were in a car accident, it is likely that you may have sustained injuries to the back that can become more profound when you move in a certain direction or exhaust your back muscles with strenuous activity.
Other causes of middle back pain include spinal problems such as arthritis or scoliosis. Arthritis can occur at any age, but according to the Laser Spine Institute (LSI), it is more common in women over the age of 45. The LSI also states that more than 90 per cent of Americans over the age of 55 are affected by some form of arthritis. Scoliosis causes an abnormal curvature of the spine, and is usually diagnosed during the childhood or teenage years.
Pneumonia can cause sharp pain in the middle back, as can pancreatitis, kidney infection and gallbladder problems. Pain in this region can also be a sign of peptic ulcers or heart disease.
Treatment for middle back pain depends upon the cause and location of the pain. For problems associated with a back injury or strenuous work, a heating pad can be used to soothe aching muscles and your doctor may prescribe physiotherapy. If the spine is out of alignment, a chiropractor can usually manually adjust it to provide immediate, long-term relief.
According to the Mayo Clinic, antibiotics are used to treat infections of the kidneys; when the infection is severe, the patient may be admitted to the hospital to avoid septicaemia or kidney failure. Pneumonia and pancreatitis also often require hospitalisation for proper treatment. Peptic ulcers are usually treated with antibiotics and a less-acidic diet. Treatment for heart disease may include a change in diet, exercise, and the addition of beta blockers or ACE inhibitors to your daily regimen.
If you are experiencing sharp middle back pain, note the time when the pain began. In order to make a better-informed diagnosis, your physician will want to know if it was a gradual problem or a sudden, acute pain. You may be asked if the pain gets better at various points in the day, or if you engaged in any strenuous activity prior to the start of the ache.
According to the National Library of Medicine, engaging in regular back exercises and stretching can help strengthen back muscles, preventing future injuries from occurring. To help prevent kidney infections, drink plenty of fluids, especially water; the Mayo Clinic says that urinating frequently helps flush bacteria from the urinary tract, helping to prevent infection. Pancreatitis and gall stones can often be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and getting plenty of vigorous exercise, all of which can also help prevent back injuries due to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.
If you experience a sudden sharp pain in your middle back that is unexplainable and interferes with your daily life, see your physician as soon as possible. It is easy to rationalise what could be a severe infection such as pneumonia or pancreatitis as "merely" a pulled muscle or back strain. However, if an infection is present and goes untreated, the long-term consequences could be serious.