The thoracic spine (midback vertebrae) is unique in that it has limited mobility relative to the cervical spine (neck) and the lumbar spine (lower back). In addition to supporting body weight, it serves a protective function because the thoracic spine is the connecting point for the ribs and provides rear coverage for the heart and lungs. The cervical spine is made of twelve vertebrae and abnormalities in these bones can cause upper back pain or other symptoms.
Thoracic Spine Injury
Injury in the thoracic spine can be acute (caused by a single incident) or chronic (caused by repeated motions or pressure over time). Acute thoracic spine injury may have been caused, for example, by a car accident or blunt force while playing sports. Chronic thoracic spine injury may have been caused, for example, by repeated twisting while playing sports or repeated heavy lifting during certain occupations. Other causes of thoracic injury include trauma incidents such as a high fall, bone disorders such as osteoporosis, posture problems such as kyphosis, and spine abnormalities such as a herniated disc.
Misalignment of vertebrae in the thoracic spine could apply pressure on nerves or affect your posture which can cause symptoms. Possible symptoms include severe upper back pain, numbness or tingling, limited range of motion, bladder/bowel dysfunction, muscle spasms, and stooped posture.
Thoracic Spine Treatment
Recovering from thoracic spine injury requires identifying the root cause and correcting for misalignment or deficiencies in the spinal vertebrae. Conservative treatment options include physical therapy, pain medications, and life style modifications such as weight loss. Thanks to advances in healthcare technology, there are also minimally invasive surgical options that minimize pain and scarring and allow for discharge within 23 hours. To find out if you a candidate for minimally invasive endoscopic spine surgery, request a consult with one of our spine-specialized doctors.