A thoracic bulging disc is an intervertebral disc in the mid-back (thoracic) area of the spinal column that has developed an unusual expansion or protrusion. Any of the spinal discs between the 12 thoracic vertebrae can develop a bulge, but it is a relatively rare condition.
Pain and discomfort associated with a thoracic bulging disc may be localized at the mid-back and shoulder area, in the region of the T1 to T12 vertebrae. Sometimes pain, numbness and tingling may radiate from the thoracic bulging disc area to the neck, arms and the fingers. On some occasions, thoracic bulging disc pain can also travel to the legs, buttocks and feet. Additionally, pain and discomfort from a thoracic bulging disc can radiate to the chest and abdomen.
This pain is caused by an intervertebral disc that is damaged and protruding into the spinal canal. When this protrusion forces itself into tiny spaces in the spinal canal, it can squeeze or press on the nerve roots or spinal cord located there.
Bulging disc symptoms may be exacerbated by:
- Slouching (poor posture)
- Lifting (especially lifting that involves twisting)
- Sneezing or coughing
- Using arms in the front of the body to perform a task that requires long periods of bending forward, such as washing dishes or driving
- Bending forward suddenly to pick something up
- Sitting and leaning forward for a long period of time
Most thoracic bulging disc symptoms can be treated successfully with conservative therapies, such as adopting good posture, avoiding sitting for extended periods of time, completing bulging disc exercises and possibly by taking anti-inflammatory medication.