Thoracic ruptured disc

A thoracic ruptured disc — or a ruptured disc located in the middle back — is fairly uncommon compared to other locations for a ruptured disc, like the cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (lower back).

The reason for this is the vertebrae in your middle back do not have as much stress put upon them as those in your neck and lower back do, thus allowing the middle region to avoid years of wear and tear. Additionally, the purpose of the thoracic spine is not to bend and move like in other areas of the spine, but rather to support the rib cage and the posture of the upper body. Because the thoracic spine does not have as much movement or wear and tear, the discs are less likely to become damaged or rupture.

What causes a ruptured disc in the thoracic spine?

A ruptured disc is caused when the elasticity in the outer layer of the disc gives way and tears. This can be caused suddenly if there is too much pressure placed on the disc at one time — for example, bending to lift something that is too heavy or a high-speed vehicle accident. A ruptured disc can also be a slow development with the natural aging and deterioration of the spine.

Once the disc ruptures and the nucleus leaks out, it can compress a nerve root in the spinal canal and cause severe pain and symptoms. Symptoms of a ruptured disc in the thoracic region of the spine include:

  • Sudden onset of middle back pain
  • Radiating pain to the ribs, chest, and down the arms
  • Tingling and weakness in the affected area
  • Muscle spasms

Treatment for a thoracic ruptured disc

Even though a thoracic ruptured disc is less common than a cervical ruptured disc or lumbar ruptured disc, the pain can be severe and greatly reduce your quality of life. If you’re experiencing the effects of a thoracic ruptured disc, contact your health care provider for a consultation and diagnosis. He or she can diagnose the cause of your pain and prescribe a treatment plan.

If you’re recommended to undergo spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute and learn about the advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery compared to traditional open back surgery. Our minimally invasive spine procedures have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain, and we are confident we can help you regain your quality of life.