Thoracic torn disc

A thoracic torn disc is a condition in which a disc in the middle of the back (thoracic spine) tears due to the constant pressure from surrounding vertebrae. Specifically, the tough outer layer of the disc tears, sometimes allowing the inner disc fluid to spread into the spinal canal.

A torn disc in the thoracic spine is not as common as a torn disc in the lumbar (lower back) or cervical (neck) spine because the thoracic spine does not allow for flexibility and movement like the other sections of the spine. The thoracic spine is found in the middle of the back and creates the structure for the rib cage to help maintain proper posture of the spine. Because there is no movement in the thoracic spine, the most common reasons for a damaged disc in this area are often due to injury, trauma or infection.

Symptoms of a thoracic torn disc

Most of the time, this condition does not cause any symptoms because the disc does not touch the spinal cord or a nerve root. In fact, many people don’t even realize they have a torn disc. However, when the damage disc does put pressure on the spinal cord or nerve root, a thoracic torn disc presents symptoms that are experienced in the middle of the back, ribs, chest and arms. These symptoms include:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of movement
  • Radiating pain in the back, arms, chest and sometimes neck

Treatments for a thoracic torn disc

To help those with a torn disc continue to live an active lifestyle, there are a number of conservative treatment options available, including:

  • Physical therapy
  • Stretching
  • Weight loss
  • Cardio
  • Strength training
  • Pain medication
  • Spinal steroid injections

While these conservative treatments are often effective for mild forms of this condition, more severe forms may require surgery.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive spine surgery aimed to alleviate nerve compression by removing a small portion of the torn disc to release pressure on the nerve root. This is called a minimally invasive decompression surgery. In some cases, the torn disc is no longer able to support the spine and must be removed entirely. When this happens, the torn disc is replaced with an artificial disc and/or bone grafts during a minimally invasive stabilization procedure.

To learn more about the advantages of our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today and ask for a review of your MRI report or CT scan.