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Understanding Your Thoracic Spine

Your spine is divided into three sections: The cervical spine (neck), the lumbar spine (lower back) and the thoracic spine (middle back). The thoracic spine is the longest part of the spine, running from the base of the neck to the abdomen. It connects the cervical and lumbar spine and is the only portion of the spine attached to the rib cage.

The thoracic spine is made up of 12 vertebrae, which provide stability to support the neck, rib cage and lower back. The thoracic spine also protects the blood vessels and nerves that run along the spinal cord. The middle back also helps anchor the rib cage, which protects the heart, lungs and other internal organs.

Middle Back Pain

Back pain can strike any part of your spine. Pain that is felt along the thoracic spine, between the base of your neck and back of the abdomen, is likely caused by an injury, condition or disease affecting the 12 vertebrae of the middle back.

Common thoracic spine injuries include:

  • Spinal stenosis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Herniated disc
  • Spondylosis
  • Compression fractures
  • Sciatica 

Diagnosing Thoracic Spine Pain

Middle back pain, injuries and conditions can range from mild discomfort to serious medical emergencies that require immediate attention. If you have back pain in the middle of your back that doesn’t improve in a few weeks after self-care at home or you are experiencing serious pain that interferes with daily activities, contact the Spine Center at St. Elizabeth. 

Our experienced providers will work closely with you to identify what’s causing your pain and create a plan that helps you feel like yourself again.