A thoracic ruptured disc – or a ruptured disc located in the middle back – is fairly uncommon compared to other spinal conditions. The reason? The vertebrae in your middle back do not have as much stress put upon them as those in your neck and lower back do, allowing the middle region to avoid years of wear and tear. When they do happen, disc ruptures in the thoracic spine typically affect people between 40 to 60 years of age.
There are several situations that can cause a thoracic ruptured disc. A disc can rupture suddenly if there is too much pressure placed on the disc at one time, for example, bending to lift something that is too heavy. Vehicle accidents involving high speed is another cause. Also, disc degeneration throughout the spine is part of the normal aging process, and this deterioration can lead to a ruptured disc.
Once a disc’s nucleus pulposus (jellylike substance) ruptures outside its annulus fibrosus covering, it can cause serious disability when there is impingement on the spinal cord or its nerve roots, leading to different levels of pain and weakness, depending on the severity.
Symptoms of a ruptured disc in the thoracic region of the spine include:
- Sudden onset of mid-back pain
- Radiating pain to the ribs, chest, and down the arms
- Tingling and weakness in the affected area
- Muscle spasms
Even though a thoracic ruptured disc is less common than a cervical ruptured disc or lumbar ruptured disc, the pain can be severe and greatly reduce your quality of life. If you’re experiencing the effects of a thoracic ruptured disc, contact your healthcare provider for a consultation and diagnosis. He or she can diagnose the cause of your suffering and prescribe a treatment plan.