Function of the T1 vertebra

The first vertebra in the thoracic spine, otherwise known as the T1 vertebra, is the first of the 12 vertebra that connects to the rib cage. The thoracic spine is located in the upper and middle back and is largely responsible for supporting the first and second rib on each side of the body and the posture of the upper body. This thoracic segment of the vertebra is the central largest section of the spinal column between the lower back and the neck.

The T1 vertebra, like the rest of the thoracic vertebrae, is characterized by its stability and strength. The lack of flexibility within the thoracic spine makes spinal deterioration less common than at other vertebral levels, such as the cervical and lumbar spine. Read on to learn more about the function and treatment options for conditions at the T1 vertebra.

T1 vertebra function

The spine is made up of more than two dozen vertebrae, which are separated and cushioned by elastic and flexible discs. There are five segments of the spine:

  • Cervical spine in the neck
  • Thoracic spine in the middle back
  • Lumbar spine in the lower back
  • Sacral spine in the buttocks
  • Coccyx in the tailbone

Vertebrae provide flexion, extension and pivoting ability to the spine and support much of the body’s weight. However, spinal vertebrae have differing roles. For example, the cervical spine supports the weight of the skull and gives the neck mobility.

The vertebrae in the lower back are the largest and experience the most stress. The thoracic spine is much more stable and tasked with supporting the rib cage. Much of this stability is a result of the increase in size of the thoracic vertebrae from the top of the thoracic spine to the bottom, with the T1 vertebra being the smallest and T12 being the largest.

The thoracic vertebrae, designated T1 through T12, are fused to the rib cage, via facets where the ribs meet the vertebrae, with the exception of T11 and T12. Existing between the last vertebra of the cervical spine (C7) and the T1 vertebra is the ulnar nerve root, which is a nerve root that extends from the spinal cord to the little finger and is unprotected near the elbow. Compression of a nerve root at the T1 level can lead to a variety of painful symptoms, including local pain, muscle weakness and numbness in the arm.

T1 vertebra treatment

Treatment for thoracic nerve compression can take the form of conservative treatment such as pain medication, physical therapy or chiropractic care. If your symptoms do not improve after several weeks or your conditions worsen, your doctor may recommend taking a surgical approach based on the cause and severity of your spine condition.

If you require spine surgery for your thoracic condition, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery^ and has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain. The advanced outpatient procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute use a less than 1-inch incision and muscle-sparing techniques, which lead to less bleeding and a lower risk of complication compared to traditional open back surgery.

To see if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, reach out to us today and ask for a no-cost MRI review.*