The T11 vertebra

The T11 vertebra is slightly different from the rest of the thoracic vertebrae. It is the second-to-last vertebra in the middle back, which spans the space between the base of the neck and the bottom of the rib cage. This vertebra is also slightly more susceptible to injury than the rest of the thoracic vertebrae because it is so close to the lower back (the thoracolumbar region), and is therefore involved in many of the lower back’s movements.


While the rib cage attaches to most of the thoracic vertebrae, it does not attach to the T11 vertebra or the T12 vertebra. These ribs are, therefore, called “floating ribs.”

Additionally, the spinal cord segments are not perfectly lined up with their corresponding vertebrae, meaning that the lumbar spinal cord segment is between the T11 vertebra and T12 vertebra, not the L1 vertebra and L2 vertebra. For this reason, some cases of nerve compression between the T11 and T12 vertebrae can impact the lower body.


It can be difficult to diagnose pain in the thoracolumbar region (thoracic and lumbar spine). While an MRI or CT scan can more accurately diagnose a spinal condition, a physical exam will likely be performed first by your doctor and could include the following:

  • Your physician will palpate the areas around your T11 vertebra. Pain or spasms may indicate damage in this area.
  • Your physician will do a visual examination of your thoracic spine vertebrae, checking for deformity, swelling, poor posture or abnormal curvature.
  • A leg test will most likely be necessary; for a leg test, the patient lies down flat and an examiner gently lifts one leg at a time about 30 degrees off the ground. Pain may indicate that the spine damage is actually in the lumbar region, not the thoracic region.
  • Finally, an X-ray will help to confirm a diagnosis. Your physician will want to rule out certain conditions, such as tumors, cysts, scoliosis and infection in or around the T11 vertebra.

If the physical and imaging tests show you have a spine condition near the T11 vertebra, your physician may recommend a series of conservative treatments or spine surgery. Often, spine surgery is reserved for after all conservative treatments have been exhausted.

The minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute offers patients a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.^ With shorter recovery times^ and lower risk of infection and complication, our procedures are often the clinically appropriate first choice over traditional open back surgery.

For more information about the minimally invasive spine surgery we have available to treat degenerative spine conditions, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We can review your MRI report or CT scan and determine if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.