Types of Back Pain

We all know the saying “a pain in the back.” The reason this phrase is so popular is simply because we all know what back pain feels like. It doesn’t matter if you know the name of your particular kind of back pain (such as thoracic back pain) or simply just know the location (such as middle right back pain or lower middle back pain), there are many kinds of back pain treatments to help.

But diagnosing and treating back pain is not as simple as pointing at a certain area on your back. There are many different types of back pain, all with their own names and treatment. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all kind of treatment. For example, the regime for different types of lower back pain would be vastly different from treatments for middle upper back pain.

What Kinds of Back Pain Are There?

Standardly speaking there are two kinds of back pain: acute and chronic pain.


Acute Back Pain

Acute back pain is also known as short-term back pain. This pain can last anywhere from a couple days to a few weeks. Generally speaking, most kinds of lower back pain is acute. The body tends to resolve acute back pain on its own with a little self-care. This kind of back pain does not usually result in residual loss of function. Acute back pain problems usually appear suddenly but are temporary.


Chronic Back Pain

If your back pain lasts longer than 12 consecutive weeks or longer, it may be classified as chronic pain. The lasting and recurring back pains may hinder your ability to do everyday activities. The main causes of chronic back pain develop gradually and can get progressively worse if left untreated. Unlike acute pain, chronic back pain can result in loss of function.

Common Back Problems and Back Problem Names


Thoracic Back Pain

Thoracic back pain is pain that is usually caused and occurs by/in the thoracic spine. Thoracic back pain is usually located opposite of your chest, so this pain would be centralized from your upper middle back (between your shoulder blades), but can also extend from the base of your neck to the top of your lumbar spine (about your waist).

Thoracic back pain or middle upper back pain has a higher chance of being the result of a serious underlying cause.


What does thoracic back pain feel like?

Some of the red flags and key symptoms to look out for include:

  • Feeling poorly — symptoms can include chills, fever and unexplained weight loss
  • Constant, severe pain that does not dissipate at any time
  • Serious stiffness usually in the morning hours
  • The feeling of pins and needles, weakness or numbness in the legs that is progressively getting worse
  • Changes in the appearance of the spine — lumps, bumps or overall shape

Middle Back Pain

Middle back pain (regardless of if it is middle right back pain or middle left) can often be synonymous with thoracic back pain but there is a difference. This particular type of back pain is described as being above the lumbar spine but under the ribcage. This type of back pain can be very hard to diagnose due to their ambiguous and vague nature.


What does middle back pain feel like?

Although this type of back pain can be difficult to diagnose some common symptoms include:

  • A dull, burn or sharp pain
  • Stiff or tight muscles

If your begin experiencing the following symptoms below, immediately seek medical help:

  • Weakness in your legs or arms
  • Numbness/tingling in your arms, legs, stomach or chest
  • Loss or difficulty controlling your bowels or urinating

Flexion Dominion Back Pain

Kneecap injuries are more common than people realize. Common causes of knee injury include:

This type of back pain has an intimidating name but is somewhat common. Flexion dominion pain is the result of a disc injury, ofen irritated by bending, lifting or sitting. This type of back pain is often felt in your lower back but can also be felt in your legs as well.

Often flexion dominion pains can be temporarily alleviated by stretching, standing or even walking. But the most recommended treatment is getting a personalized regime from a physiotherapist or chiropractor.

rest can help with knee pain

What does flexion dominion pain feel like?

Usual symptoms include:

  • Difficulty rising or straightening your back
  • Loss of motion or difficulty with range of motion
  • Leg weakness (not in all cases though)
  • Tingling that may progress into numbness

Extension Dominion Back Pain

This type of back pain is the opposite of the ascribed one above. The cause of this pain is caused by the z-joints (or the zygapophyseal joints) and is triggered by extended periods of standing. Often people can feel numbness or tingling in their legs, especially after a high impact activity.

To alleviate the pain caused by extension dominion pain, it is recommended to ease the pressure off the spine. This can be accomplished temporarily by sitting or bending but further treatment can include acupuncture and manual therapy.


What does dominion back pain feel like?

Common symptoms feel like:

  • Stiffness that occurs in the same spot
  • Pain that is localized to the spine
  • Numbness or tingling in the legs

Inflammatory Back Pain

This particular type of back pain is caused by the excess inflammation of the spinal joints. Although less common than other kinds of mechanical back pain, inflammatory back pain is the result of the medical conditions that cause the immune system to attack the spinal joints.

Gentle exercises and a good physiotherapy regime are the best recommendations to help retain mobility and minimize pain. Another factor to consider when it comes to inflammatory back pain is that this type of pain must be diagnosed by a medical professional.


What does inflammatory back pain feel like?

Common symptoms include:

  • Pain that persists for more than 3 months
  • Stiffness that occurs in the early morning as well as late at night
  • Pain and stiffness that worsens with immobility
  • Pain that wakes you up at night
  • Pain in the buttox

Back Pain Treatment

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms on this page, the next best step would be to come into Knead Wellness for a professional opinion and assessment. At Knead Wellness, we specialize in injury and rehabilitation services. Our extensive team covers a wide range of therapies including physiotherapy, chiropractic care, sports medicine, massage therapy and more.

Many of the back pain problems mentioned here can be alleviated with a professional regime, let our team assist you in your journey to a pain-free, healthy life.