There are 12 pairs of thoracic spine nerve roots, which are located in your upper and middle back. Anterior fibers of each thoracic nerve root direct motor information from the brain to receptors throughout the torso and abdomen. Posterior fibers relay sensory information back to the brain. As is the case with nerve roots in neighboring regions, thoracic spine nerve roots enter and exit the spinal column through intervertebral foramina, or tiny spaces between each thoracic vertebra.
The thoracic vertebrae are attached to the rib cage, which give them extra stability and structure. This means they are less likely to sustain injury than the lumbar or cervical regions of the spine, which are built to be far more flexible. Even so, thoracic nerve roots can still fall prey to debilitating conditions, such as herniated discs, bulging discs, bone spurs, and spinal stenosis. Symptoms can include:
- Pain surrounding the rib cage, abdomen, or inner arms
- Numbness or tingling in the area of the kidneys
- Discomfort surrounding the lungs
- Tightness or weakness in the area of the diaphragm