The thoracic spine is composed of the 12 vertebrae that support the rib cage in the middle of the back. These T12 vertebrae are sometimes called T1-T12 by medical professionals, particularly when discussing a spine condition that affects one or more of these vertebrae.
While it is somewhat rare, 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
In a healthy spine, the vertebrae are held together by facet joints and are separated by cushion like discs. Unlike the cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) spine, the thoracic spine does not offer much flexibility and movement. Instead, the thoracic spine is fused to the rib cage to help support the upper body.
Because it is directly connected to and anchored by the rib cage, the thoracic spine may not be as susceptible to injury as the cervical or lumbar spine, but it is certainly not immune to regular wear and tear. 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 common causes of deterioration in T1-T12 are:
- Regular aging
- Degenerative disc disease
- Facet disease
- Spinal stenosis
- Poor posture or diet
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 see if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.
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 procedures are performed through a small incision that does not disrupt the large muscles surrounding the spine. Many of our patients are recommended for a decompression surgery, though some patients may need a stabilization surgery to strengthen the structure of the spine.
During our minimally invasive decompression surgery, a small portion of the damaged disc is removed to release pressure on the pinched nerve root in the spine. Similarly, during our minimally invasive stabilization surgery, the damaged disc is altogether removed and replaced with an artificial disc, sometimes accompanied by bone grafts.
To find out if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We can review your MRI report or CT scan and help you take the next step toward pain relief.