Thoracic spinal stenosis

A narrowing of the spinal canal in the middle of the back is known as thoracic spinal stenosis. This degenerative spine condition can involve any of the 12 thoracic vertebrae, which are numbered T1 to T12.

Thoracic spinal stenosis is different than spinal stenosis in the neck (cervical region) or lower back (lumbar region) because the thoracic vertebrae are joined to the ribs. The thoracic spine is not as mobile as the neck and lower back, but the thoracic spine does support the body’s ability to rotate and move from side to side. This rotation is the primary motion affected in patients with thoracic spinal stenosis.

Symptoms of thoracic spinal stenosis may include:

  • Pain in the ribs
  • Pain in the affected area of the back
  • Pain radiating down the back or legs
  • Aching in the legs that leads to difficulty walking
  • Pain in one or more internal organs

It is not unheard of for thoracic spinal stenosis to be accompanied by lumbar spinal stenosis (in the lower back), cervical spinal stenosis (in the neck) or both.

Although spinal stenosis in the thoracic region can be congenital (something you are born with), in most cases it is a result of the natural aging process. The vertebrae, discs and ligaments in the thoracic region of the spine — as well as other regions of the spine — can develop a number of conditions over time due to wear and tear, injury or overuse. All of the following conditions can contribute to narrowing of the spinal canal:

Pain associated with thoracic spinal stenosis is usually the result of vertebrae, discs, bone spurs, ligaments or other tissue expanding into the mid-spinal canal, causing it to narrow. This narrowing puts undue pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots in the thoracic region, and painful symptoms typically result.

If you are experiencing chronic pain and other symptoms due to thoracic spinal stenosis, or due to stenosis in another region of your spine, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive procedures may help treat your spinal stenosis and relieve your pain, even if a full course of conservative treatments has proven ineffective. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of our minimally invasive, outpatient surgeries and how you may be a candidate.

Browse Related Resources