What Causes Middle Back Pain As We Age?

Clarice Cummins, P.T.

July 8, 2019

Joints & Back Health

What Causes Middle Back Pain As We Age?

Have you ever felt pain in your back that you couldn’t quite place? If it’s not common lower back pain or the nagging feeling of stress in your shoulders and neck, it’s probably middle back pain.Unfortunately, our backs must bear the brunt of work in our lives and as a result, they feel pain. Our middle back is often neglected when we exercise or stretch, and we simply do not pay much attention to it. However, it can cause serious pain that needs to be addressed. Let’s learn more about what causes middle back pain in wiser adults.

Related: The 9 Best Stretches for Middle Back Pain

What is the Middle Back?

All of us know how to define our lower back because we so often feel pain there!  But what exactly is the middle back? Where does the middle back begin and where does it end?

Related: Wysefit Back Health & Core Stability Program with Clarice Cummins

The middle back can also be referred to as your thoracic spine. It is the section of your body between the base of your neck and the bottom of your rib cage. This area includes many different muscles and ligaments, vertebrae, and spinal discs. This means there are plenty of muscles and bones to injure or be affected by diseases and illnesses to cause pain!

The 8 Most Common Causes of Middle Back Pain

1. Weak Muscles

A big cause of middle back pain in older adults is weak muscles. Your muscles stop growing once you hit the age of 30 and slowly begin to deteriorate. If you do not take the time to strengthen them, they will continue to degenerate until you they are too weak to support you. This can lead to poor posture, insufficient support when lifting objects, and the inability to walk properly. These weak muscles can also easily tear if you turn too quickly, lift objects, or experience too much physical exertion.

You can remedy the weak muscles and strengthen your core by doing our scientifically designed back health program in Wysefit App. Or, you can simply do these10 Best Core Exercises for Back Stability and Strengthfrom our program.

2. Weak Bones

Your bones are similar to your muscles in that they stop creating mass as you age. This results in thin, brittle bones that can easily break or fracture. Without proper nutrition and exercise, your bones will break under the pressure from too much weight, physical exertion, or lifting heavy objects. When the bones in your spine or vertebra fracture or break, it can lead to severe middle back pain.

Strength training using resistance is key for bone density. This is why at Wysefit, we emphasize strength training. Do your core strengthening exercises to help your spine and don’t skip on strength training with weights in your fitness routine.

3. Decreased Spinal Fluid

Your body depends on spinal fluid to keep your joints cushioned. Unfortunately, just like with muscles and bones, this fluid decreases as you age. This decrease in fluid causes your joints to rub against each other, resulting in pain.

Exercising in a horizontal position, rather than vertical when possible to take advantage of disk refill. You need at least 10-15 minutes in a horizontal position to refill your spinal disks. This is why our Back Health and Core Stability classes in Wysefit app are designed as such.

4. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis affects the joints in your back and causes them to break down. As a result, the cartilage between your joints decreases. Since your vertebrae have no cushioning left, they rub against each other, causing pain. A specific type of arthritis that affects the spine is ankylosing spondylitis. This can cause your vertebrae to fuse together, which can cause pain, stiffness, poor posture, and lack of mobility.

5. Kidney Conditions

Your kidneys are located underneath your ribcage, on both sides of your spine. As a result, when they become inflamed, it can cause middle back pain. You may have an infection or kidney stones which can cause your middle back to hurt, but you will probably have other symptoms like fever, chills, nausea, and difficulty or pain while urinating.

6. Your Sleeping Position

If you have ever woken up feeling less than refreshed and maybe in some pain, then you know that sleeping positions can have a big effect on your body! Middle back pain can often be caused by how you sleep. For example, many wiser adults enjoy sleeping in a favorite chair or recliner. However, this position can cause posture problems that lead to middle back pain.

7. Pinched Nerves

A pinched nerve can be caused by a variety of things including osteoarthritis and a herniated disc. When something happens that compresses the nerve root, then the pressure causes pain. The pain can be in your shoulders, lower back, and legs, but can also occur in your middle back around your rib cage.

8. Herniated Discs

The discs between your vertebrae can sometimes become damaged and tear. This can lead to the disc’s cushioning material being pushed out. Your vertebrae are now closer together and can press on each other. The cushioning may also press on your spinal cord, causing pain.


Middle back pain is the least common form of back pain, but it can still seriously affect your life. It is very important to understand the causes of your middle back pain so you can find the right treatment. Staying healthy and active can help prevent some of these causes. Be sure to always check with your doctor if you have any unexplained pain. They can help determine the cause and get you treatment so you can get back to your life feeling better than ever! Any physical therapist and doctor will tell you that strengthening your core muscles and glutes (the muscles in your butt) is absolutely key for preventing back pain. So go ahead and exercise with us to get a stronger core and help your back.

Download Wysefit App and find Back Health and Core Stability Classes with Clarice Cummins, P.T and back specialist.

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