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Thoracic Stenosis


Thoracic stenosis is defined as spinal stenosis in the thoracic, or middle, section of the back, roughly classified as the area where the ribs attach to the spine. If you have thoracic stenosis, symptoms could begin anywhere from the base of your neck to the area of your waist, and from there, the symptoms also might spread to other areas of your body.

thoracic stenosis

In basic terms, thoracic stenosis – or any type of spinal stenosis – is a narrowing of your spinal canal. This narrowing is typically the normal result of degenerative changes that occur in your spine as you age. For example, over many years, the protective cartilage between the bones (or vertebrae) of your back can deteriorate, leaving the joints of your spine exposed to additional stress and friction. Your body’s healing mechanisms respond to this bone-on-bone friction by encouraging the growth of extra bone, called bone spurs or osteophytes. If the growth of bone spurs narrows the nerve passageways in your spinal column too much, it can cause pressure on the nerve roots and the spinal cord, resulting in a host of symptoms.

Thoracic stenosis symptoms may include:

  • Muscle spasms, weakness, or numbness in the back and legs
  • Aching in the legs when walking
  • Pain radiating around the rib cage
  • Numbness, tingling, and strong pain that radiates from the back to the shoulders and arms
  • Pain in one or more major internal organs

Like all cases of spinal stenosis or foraminal stenosis, your physician may recommend several treatments to ease the pain of thoracic stenosis. These treatments can range from rest, massage and physical therapy to exercise, medications and injections.

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