Mid Back Pain

Usual Suspects:

  1. The local muscles and joints of the mid back
  2. The central muscles of the abdomen
  3. The muscles between the ribs at the front, side, or back of the body (intercostals)
  4. The muscles of the side of the rib cage (serratus anterior)

The Imbue Pain Relief Patch temporarily relieves minor aches and pains of muscles and joints. In the diagrams below, the X’s show the locations of common trigger points (localized muscle strain), and the colored shading shows the pain pattern each trigger point produces. This pain is often several inches (or more) away from the trigger point at which it originates. If application of the Imbue Patch directly to the knee does not significantly improve your pain, applying the Imbue Pain Relief Patch at the site of strain in nearby muscles sometimes yields better results.

Mid Back Pain Due to the Muscles of the Mid Back

Mid back pain due to muscular strain is usually fairly straightforward. Most of the time, it comes directly from muscles of the mid back. These include: the superficial and deep paraspinal muscles (right next to the spine), serratus posterior inferior (a diagonal muscle covering the lowest few ribs in the back), latissimus dorsi (the prominent sheet of back muscle that covers the side aspect of the back of the torso), and infraspinatus (which covers the lower portion of the shoulder blade). Besides muscular strain, pain in this region may occasionally originate from any of the joints and the many ligaments joining spinal bones (vertebrae) to each other and to the ribs.

Therefore, your search should begin with the mid back itself. Enlist the help of a friend who can press firmly on the muscles in this area, or use a Theracane or a ball to do this yourself. If using a ball (tennis ball or lacrosse ball), lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat. Place the ball under your back and roll slowly on it to apply pressure to each of the key areas. Alternatively, you can also place the ball between your back and a wall, and then slowly bend your knees to roll the ball up and down your back (see diagram).


When scanning the mid back, be sure to feel the whole area from the spine to the side of the rib cage, and from the level of the shoulder blades down to the small of the back. (Sometimes the pain may be originating from a place other than where you feel it.) This can be accomplished methodically by following a series of vertical lines. See the colorful diagram. Start right against the spine (red), feeling down the natural trough that occurs between the spine and the bulge of muscle that runs alongside it. Then feel down the high point (orange) of this bulge of muscle (the superficial and deep paraspinal muscles). Next feel along the outside edge of this bulge of muscle (yellow). Continue in this way, moving roughly a thumb’s breadth further out with each pass, unlatdorsi-backonlytil you have covered the whole mid back. Then feel methodically over the whole lower surface of the shoulder blade (pink). Make note of any spots that are especially tender, particularly any place that reproduces the pain you have been experiencing. Do some massage at these points and apply the Imbue Pain Relief Patch here.

Don’t forget to feel the side aspect of the back, even if the pain is closer to the spine. Latissimus dorsi can develop trigger points in this area that may send pain to the lower portion of the shoulder blade. The diagram to the left shows, at the X, where these trigger points tend to occur, and the red shading shows where pain may occur.

Mid Back Pain Due to the Muscles of the Abdomen and Rib Cage

Sometimes mid back pain can be referred to the back by trigger points in the “six pack” muscles of the central abdomen (rectus abdominis). A point of strain in these muscles may produce a band of pain across the same level of the back. These muscles are prone to developing trigger points, especially when we suddenly become inspired to do a thousand sit-ups after not exercising for months.

The diagram shows one typical trigger point (X) and the broad pain it produces (shown by red shading). Search methodically in the abdomen at about the same level as where you are experiencing back pain, plus a few inches above and below. Depending on the size of your torso, these muscles typically extend about 3 to 6 inches outward from the navel to each side. Press firmly throughout the muscle, paying special attention to any spots that are quite tender, particularly if they reproduce the back pain you have been experiencing. Then try placing the Imbue Pain Relief Patch here.

Mid back pain may also originate in the muscles that run over and between the ribs. Here, too, the region of strain is likely to be at roughly the same level as where you are experiencing back pain. Also possible is joint pain where the ribs meet the sternum (breastbone – the “sternocostal articulations” that radiates through to the back and may seem to be coming from the back. Press methodically on each of your lower ribs, starting just below the level of your nipples. Then feel the muscles between the ribs (intercostals), following these arcing spaces outward from the sternum (breastbone) to the side of the body. Place the Imbue Pain Relief Patch wherever you discover points of significant tenderness, especially if they produce the mid back pain you have been experiencing.

When you come to the side of the rib cage you may be able to feel the serratus anterior muscle, which has a prominent finger-like or rippled look when well toned. It, too, can occasionally provoke mid back pain, although this pain is usually experienced more at the side. In the left picture, the white X shows the common site of a trigger point in serratus anterior and the red shading displays the pain pattern it produces. This pain may also spread to the area near the lower end of the shoulder blade and even down the inside of the arm. The picture on the far right shows a side view of the rib cage, with the finger-like bands of serratus anterior arcing toward the chest.

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