Thoracic torn disc

A thoracic torn disc is a condition in which a disc in the thoracic (middle) 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 push into the spinal canal.

A torn disc in the thoracic spine is not as common as a torn disc in the lumbar (lower) or cervical (upper) spine because the thoracic spine is more rigid compared to 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 limited 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

Often, this condition does not cause symptoms because the disc does not touch the spinal cord or a nerve root. In fact, many people with the condition don’t even realize they have a torn disc. However, if the damaged disc becomes irritated or puts pressure on the spinal cord or nerve root, a thoracic torn disc can cause symptoms 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 that doctors recommend, including:

  • Physical therapy
  • Stretching
  • Over-the-counter medication
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Strength training
  • Hot/cold compression therapy
  • Spinal injections

While these conservative treatments are often effective, spine surgery can become an option if weeks or months of treatment don’t bring the relief necessary for a good quality of life.

At Laser Spine Institute, we perform minimally invasive spine surgery to relieve nerve compression on an outpatient basis. Our surgeons can access the spine with a less than 1-inch incision, allowing for a streamlined outpatient procedure that offers many advantages to our patients.

To learn more about our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today and ask for your free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.