Thoracic disc pain

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

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 age-related changes to the spine, this is not often the case with disc pain in the thoracic spine. Unlike the lumbar (lower) spine and the cervical (upper) spine, the thoracic spine is rigid, which limits the wearing of the spinal discs. 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 be very 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 arm. You also may notice muscle weakness and a pins-and-needles feeling. 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 cushion the spinal 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, it can lead to pain and other symptoms.

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 doctor 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.

Upon diagnosis of a thoracic disc condition, patients are typically recommended a conservative course of treatment that involves pain medication, physical therapy, chiropractic care, epidural steroid injections, rest, gentle exercise and holistic therapies.

In some severe cases, if several months of conservative treatment do not provide pain relief, your doctor may suggest you undergo spine surgery. For patients in this position, we recommend you contact us to learn more about the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute.

Our minimally invasive spine surgery reduces the risk of complication while offering a shorter recovery time for our patients.^ We offer two categories of procedures: minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization surgery. Both of these can treat disc pain by removing the pressure of the damaged disc from the pinched nerve. Our procedures are performed through a small incision using muscle-sparing techniques, allowing for a streamlined outpatient experience.

For more information about how our minimally invasive spine surgery can treat your disc pain, we’re happy to provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate.