T1 – 12 vertebrae — overview and conditions that can affect them

The thoracic (middle) spine is composed of 12 vertebrae that support the rib cage in the middle of the back. These 12 vertebrae are sometimes called T1 – T12 by medical professionals, particularly when discussing a spine condition that affects one or more of these vertebrae.

While rarer than other spinal regions, patients may develop a spine condition in the thoracic spine that can lead to pain and symptoms in the back, neck, shoulders and arms.

Causes of pain and symptoms in the thoracic spine

The vertebrae are held together by facet joints and are cushioned by the spinal discs. Unlike the more flexible cervical (upper) and lumbar (lower) spinal regions, the thoracic spine is relatively inflexible. Instead, these vertebrae are fused to the rib cage to help support the upper body.

Because of this, the thoracic spine may not be as susceptible to injury as the cervical or lumbar spine, but problems can still develop. As the spine ages and weakens over time, the discs and joints can break down, leaving the spine susceptible to developing degenerative spine conditions.

Some of the conditions that can occur in the T1 – T12 section include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Facet disease
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Traumatic injuries

Disc surgery for the thoracic spine

For many patients, conservative treatments offer an effective method of pain relief for degenerative conditions in the thoracic spine. These methods, including physical therapy and pain medication, can help to reduce the symptoms of a damaged disc or joint in the spine, allowing you to return to your normal lifestyle.

However, if spine surgery is needed after several months of conservative treatment, you should contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the benefits of our minimally invasive spine surgery.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive decompression and stabilization surgeries to help treat damaged discs in the spine, as well as other degenerative spine conditions. Both types of procedures are performed through a small muscle-sparing incision.

During a minimally invasive decompression surgery, a small portion of the damaged disc is removed to release pressure on the pinched nerve root in the spine. While during a minimally invasive stabilization surgery, the damaged disc is removed and replaced with material to stabilize the spinal segment.

To learn more, reach out to our dedicated team today. We’ll be happy to help you receive your no-cost MRI or CT scan review* so you can find out if you’re a potential candidate for one of our procedures.