Thoracic degenerative disc disease

Degenerative disc disease is described as any type of damage to a disc in the spine due to the natural aging process.

Typically, this condition develops after years of movement and weight gain add pressure to the discs until a disc in the spine dehydrates, bulges or herniates, which can lead to pain and other symptoms. Because the thoracic spine is attached to the rib cage and doesn’t carry the same weight or movement as the other areas of the spine, developing a degenerative disc disease in this area is much less likely than developing it in the lower back or neck.

However, that is not to say that the symptoms of a degenerative disc in the thoracic spine are any less painful. When the damaged disc presses against a nearby nerve, the following symptoms can occur:

  • Pain upon twisting of the back
  • Muscle spasms
  • Bowel or bladder dysfunction (If this happens, seek immediate medical attention.)
  • Slumped posture

Because these symptoms can travel the length of the nerve pathway, they can reach into the arms or legs as well as stay local in the middle of the back.

Other conditions caused by degenerative disc disease

The development of degenerative disc disease can lead to the development of other spine conditions, such as spinal stenosis.

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal and can develop when a damaged disc moves into the empty space between the spine and the walls of the spinal canal. This area is a common pathway for nerves to travel to and from the spine, which makes it likely that a disc that bulges into this area of the spine will impact a nerve and cause pain.

Finding treatment for thoracic degenerative disc disease

For many patients, conservative treatments are an effective method of pain relief for thoracic degenerative disc disease. These methods include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Pain medication
  • Yoga and stretching

There are several other nonsurgical options that your physician can recommend. You should always schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss treatment options before starting anything on your own to make sure your treatment process is safe.

If you require spine surgery for your degenerative disc disease, Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive decompression and stabilization surgery that can support the spine and remove pressure from the disc on the pinched nerve. For many patients, our minimally invasive decompression surgery is effective in reducing pressure on the pinched nerve in the spine. Our stabilization surgery is only used when the disc is severely damaged and should be replaced with an artificial disc. Our minimally invasive approach to spine surgery allows our patients to experience a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of complication than traditional open back surgery and fusion.

To see if you qualify for our minimally invasive procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today and ask for a review of your MRI or CT scan.