Thoracic disc extrusion

Thoracic disc extrusion is a condition in which a disc in the middle of the back (thoracic spine) becomes damaged and moves out of the natural alignment of the spine.

While this condition is not always symptomatic, sometimes the disc out of alignment can cause a nerve root near the spine to become compressed. When this happens, pain may radiate from the spine into the extremities, accompanied by a tingling or numbness. For many people, this can be treated with conservative methods of therapy, though some patients may require surgical intervention. Before treatment can be discussed, your physician or spine care specialist must determine the cause of the thoracic disc extrusion in order to recommend the appropriate treatment.

Causes of thoracic disc extrusion

Disc extrusion and any damage to a disc in the spine is most commonly caused by the natural aging process of the spine. However, degenerative disc disease typically occurs in the lumbar spine (lower back) or cervical spine (neck) because those are the two areas that allow movement. The thoracic spine, on the other hand, is partly attached to the rib cage and is responsible for supporting the upper half of the body and keeping proper posture.

Even so, natural degeneration can develop in the thoracic spine and contribute to the weakening, and even tearing, of a disc. Other factors involved in thoracic disc extrusion include:

  • Injury
  • Age
  • Combination of age and injury
  • Trauma
  • Illness

Treatment for thoracic disc extrusion

Your physician may recommend a course of conservative treatments, including rest, pain medication, core muscle strengthening exercises and low-impact activity, such as walking and swimming. Conservative treatments often help alleviate pain over a period of several weeks or months.

However, symptoms from a thoracic disc extrusion or other spinal condition may not subside with conservative options. If this is what you are experiencing, we encourage you to contact the spine care experts at Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery allows patients to experience lower risk and higher patient satisfaction than traditional open back surgery due to our minimally invasive approach to the spine.

For a damaged disc, we offer two types of spine surgery to treat the condition: minimally invasive discectomy and minimally invasive stabilization. A minimally invasive discectomy relieves pressure on the compressed nerve root by removing a small portion of the damaged disc. A minimally invasive stabilization is used when the entire damaged disc must be removed because it can no longer offer support in the spine. An artificial disc is then inserted to offer immediate stabilization.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute, contact our spine care experts today. We can review your MRI report or CT scan and determine if you are a candidate for one of our procedures.