Thoracic “Mid Back” Pain

Have you ever experienced…

Your upper and mid back feels as stiff as a block.

It’s sore and uncomfortable to lie on your back.

Even breathing can cause sharp stabbing pain in the middle of your back.

No lower back or neck stretches seems to “hit the spot”.

If you do, then you may be experiencing thoracic pain.

So… why the thoracic spine?

Our thoracic spine is not designed to have a lot of movement in the first place. Therefore, they can be prone to become stiff with prolonged sustained positions and lack of movement.

The reason breathing can be uncomfortable is because our ribs attach to our thoracic spine, if the joints that connect our ribs to our thoracic spine becomes stiff, breathing can then become painful and uncomfortable.

How can a physiotherapist help?

Our physiotherapists can help identify the cause of your thoracic pain and provide hands on treatment to help reduce your pain, along with exercises for ongoing management to prevent it from happening again.

Common treatments provided include joint mobilisation, soft tissue massage, joint manipulation, and stretches and mobility exercises

What can you do to manage it?

Frequent posture checks to ensure you are adopting a good posture.

Stretches for the upper and mid back.

Thoracic spine mobility exercises.

Back strengthening exercises.

Heat pack to relax the tight muscles in your upper and mid back.

Below are some of my favourite exercises for thoracic pain:

  • Upper and mid back stretch [photo]
  • Wall angel [photo]
  • Thoracic extension stretch over roller [photo]


Mandy Lai

Mandy graduated from Curtin University with a Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy and is passionate about working together with her clients ensure the most suitable treatment and management is provided.

Mandy has previously worked as a sports trainer with multiple football clubs, where she developed experience in sports strapping and the management of different sporting injuries (including shoulder, knee, and ankle injuries). She also has special interest in treating neck and back pain.

Outside of work, Mandy enjoys spending time with her friends and family, and is also a big puzzle fan from building jigsaws to solving the Rubik’s cube and playing chess. When not puzzling, you can find her unwinding with a book and a nice cup of tea, or in the kitchen trying to learn how to cook.