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T1-T12 Disc Protrusion


T1 - T12 Disc Protrusion

T1-T12 disc protrusion specifically refers to the deterioration of one or more of the intervertebral discs in the thoracic (middle) segment of the spine. The protrusion of a disc between any of the 12 vertebrae in the thoracic spine (T1-T12) can cause severe pain and other symptoms if nerve compression is present.

Disc protrusion in the thoracic spine, however, is somewhat rare because the thoracic spinal segment is attached directly to the ribcage, keeping the 12 thoracic vertebrae relatively stable and stationary. Lumbar disc protrusion (in the lower back) and cervical disc protrusion (in the neck) are much more common.

The role of the thoracic spine is to provide support for the ribcage and protection for organs in the torso. This means that the thoracic vertebrae are strong – but not particularly flexible. As a result, injury and other disc disorders to the thoracic spine are infrequent. However, in the event that one of the soft, spongy intervertebral discs in the thoracic spine does become bulged, herniated or otherwise damaged, then there is a risk for the compression of a nerve root exiting out of the T1-T12 area. When disc material compresses one of these nerve roots or the spinal cord, a variety of disc protrusion symptoms can result, such as chronic middle back pain or stiffness, pain that travels to the chest and abdomen, muscle weakness in the torso, numbness and tingling.

Conservative treatment of a T1-T12 disc protrusion is the usual first course of action and normally has good results. Non-surgical disc protrusion treatments may include:

  • Limited rest
  • Exercise, strength, and stretching techniques
  • Posture or diet improvement
  • Heat or ice application
  • Painkillers? – either over-the-counter or prescription
  • Steroidal or epidural injections

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