Thoracic disc pain

Thoracic disc pain develops from nerve compression in the thoracic spine (middle back).

This type of disc pain is a result of a spine condition that could have developed from a number of factors, ranging from injury to genetics. While most damaged discs occur with the natural wear and tear of the spine, this is not often the case with disc pain in the thoracic spine. Unlike the lumbar spine (lower back) and the cervical spine (neck), the thoracic spine does not allow for movement, which limits the wearing of discs between the vertebrae. Instead, the thoracic spine supports the rib cage and helps maintain proper posture for the upper body.

Symptoms and causes of thoracic disc pain

Thoracic disc pain, although less common than conditions involving the lumbar spine or the cervical spine, can still be debilitating and prevent you from enjoying an active lifestyle.

The common symptoms of disc pain in the thoracic spine include pain in the middle back as well as pain that radiates through the shoulder, ribs, chest and/or arm. Problems with a thoracic disc can occur suddenly or gradually. For instance, falling and landing in a sitting position while ice skating can place stress along your back that travels to your thoracic, or middle, spine.

This force can rupture one or more of the soft discs that sits in between your spine’s vertebrae. A ruptured or bulging disc may not cause any symptoms at all, but if the disc presses upon nerve tissue in the thoracic spine, there’s a good chance that you will feel pain in the middle back as well as pain that travels around your torso and down the inside of your arms. You also may notice muscle weakness and a pins-and-needles feeling.

When to seek treatment for thoracic disc pain

Whether the thoracic disc pain was caused by an accident or by a disc that has deteriorated with age, talk to your physician about your symptoms. Describe the severity of your pain, its frequency and its location. Make sure to include symptoms that you may initially think are unrelated to your disc pain, such as headaches, arm pain, leg pain or trouble with reflexes and mobility. All of this information will be important for your physician to confirm a diagnosis.

If your physician believes the pain is from a herniated disc or bulging disc, you will most likely be recommended a conservative course of treatment that involves pain medication, physical therapy, chiropractic work, periodic steroid injections, rest, gentle exercise and holistic therapies.

In some severe cases, if several months of conservative treatment do not provide pain relief, your physician may suggest that you undergo spine surgery. For patients in this position, we recommend you research the safer, effective spine surgery options at Laser Spine Institute.

Our minimally invasive spine surgery reduces the risk of infection and increases the rate of patient satisfaction when compared to traditional spine surgery. We offer two categories of procedures: minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization surgery — both of which can treat disc pain by removing the pressure of the damaged disc from the pinched nerve. Our procedures are performed through a small incision without impacting the surrounding muscles, allowing our patients to experience a shorter recovery time^ than patients who choose traditional spine surgery.

For more information about how our minimally invasive spine surgery can treat your disc pain, contact Laser Spine Institute today and request a review of your MRI report or CT scan from one of our spine care experts.