Thoracic stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal in the thoracic spine, located in the middle of the back. The spinal canal is the pathway that holds the spinal cord and the central nervous system, allowing the nerve roots to send signals between the spine and the brain.
While spinal stenosis is a common result of the natural aging process of the spine and other degenerative spine conditions, this condition is less likely to develop in the thoracic spine as it is in other more flexible areas of the spine, like the neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine). However, the thoracic spine is still susceptible to age-related conditions that can cause stenosis, such as:
- Herniated disc
- Bulging disc
- Bone spurs or osteophytes
- Spinal arthritis
Symptoms of thoracic stenosis
Because the spinal canal stores the nerve roots, the narrowing of this passageway can increase the risk of nerve compression. Nerve compression in the thoracic spine can result in pain and symptoms that can spread from your back to your neck, shoulders, chest, arms and hands, depending on the exact location of your pinched nerve.
Thoracic stenosis symptoms may include:
- Muscle spasms, weakness, or numbness in the back and legs
- Aching in the legs when walking
- Pain radiating around the rib cage
- Numbness, tingling, and strong pain that radiates from the back to the shoulders and arms
- Pain in one or more major internal organs
Treatment for thoracic stenosis
Like all cases of spinal stenosis or foraminal stenosis, your physician may recommend several conservative treatments to ease the pain of thoracic stenosis. These treatments can range from rest, massage and physical therapy to exercise, medications and injections. For many patients, the pain medication and steroid injections offer the most effective pain relief.
However, some cases of thoracic stenosis require spine surgery. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer safer, effective surgical options than traditional open back surgery. Our minimally invasive spine surgery can treat the source of thoracic stenosis by removing the damaged portion of the spine that is narrowing the spinal canal and compressing a nerve root.
Once our team reviews your MRI report or CT scan, we can recommend a minimally invasive spine procedure. Our procedures are performed with minimally invasive techniques, allowing our patients to experience a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of postoperative complication than patients who choose traditional open back surgery.
For more information about your condition, the treatment options available to you and the benefits of our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today.