Thoracic spinal stenosis – symptoms and treatment

A narrowing of the spinal canal or nerve root exits 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 cervical (upper) or lumbar (lower) regions because the thoracic vertebrae are joined to the ribs. The thoracic spine is not as mobile as the neck and lower back, but it 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 and causes of 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, cervical spinal stenosis or both.

Although spinal stenosis in the thoracic region can be related to a congenital birth defect or injury, it is often a result of the natural aging process. The vertebrae, discs and ligaments in the thoracic region of the spine — as well as other regions — 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 nerve passages, causing potential narrowing. This puts undue pressure on the spinal cord or a nerve root in the thoracic region, with painful symptoms often resulting.

Treatment options for thoracic stenosis

If you are experiencing chronic pain and other symptoms due to thoracic spinal stenosis, or from stenosis in another region of your spine, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive procedures can help treat spinal stenosis even if a full course of conservative treatments has proven ineffective. Our board-certified surgeons+ can access the spine with a less than 1-inch incision, allowing for a streamlined outpatient experience.

We are pleased to offer a no-cost MRI review* to help you determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.

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