A guide to disc protrusion in the T1 – T12 segment

T1 – T12 disc protrusion specifically refers to the deterioration of one or more of the spinal discs in the thoracic (middle) segment of the spine. The protrusion of a disc between any of the 12 vertebrae in the thoracic spine (T1 – T12) can cause severe pain and other symptoms if nerve compression is present.

Disc protrusion in the thoracic spine, however, is somewhat rare because the thoracic spinal segment is attached directly to the ribcage, keeping the 12 thoracic vertebrae relatively stable and stationary. Lumbar (lumbar) disc protrusion and cervical (upper) disc protrusion are much more common.

Causes of T1 – T12 disc protrusion

The role of the thoracic spine is to provide support for the ribcage and protection for organs in the torso. This means that the thoracic vertebrae are strong — but not particularly flexible. As a result, injury and other disc disorders to the thoracic spine are infrequent. However, in the event that one of the discs in the thoracic spine does become bulged, herniated or otherwise damaged, then there is a risk for the compression of a nerve root exiting out of the T1 – T12 area. When disc material compresses one of these nerve roots or the spinal cord, a variety of disc protrusion symptoms can result, including:

  • Chronic middle back pain or stiffness
  • Pain that travels to the chest and abdomen
  • Muscle weakness in the torso
  • Numbness and tingling

Treatment options for T1 – T12 disc protrusion

Conservative treatment of a T1 – T12 disc protrusion is the usual first course of action and normally has good results. Nonsurgical disc protrusion treatments may include:

  • Limited rest
  • Exercise, strength, and stretching techniques
  • Posture or diet improvement
  • Heat or ice application
  • Over-the-counter or prescription medication
  • Spinal injections

Surgery can become an option if conservative treatments are exhausted without bringing the relief necessary for a good quality of life. If you are recommended for surgery to treat disc protrusion in the thoracic spine, contact Laser Spine Institute today for more information about the benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery. Our procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery, offering our patients a shorter recovery time^ with less risk of complication.

We are pleased to offer a no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.