Function of the T3 vertebra

The third thoracic vertebra, also known as the T3 vertebra, is a small vertebra that plays an integral role in supporting the rib cage. The T3 vertebra is a strong piece of bone that interlocks with the adjacent vertebrae to provide stability and support in the thoracic spine, while still allowing for a measure of flexibility. Read on to learn more about the role of the T3 vertebra as well as the treatment options available for any associated conditions.

Structure and function of the T3 vertebra

The T3 vertebra is composed of the following:

  • A hollow spinal foramen that protects the spinal cord and allows for comfortable passage of spinal nerves
  • Vertebral foramina that allow smaller nerve roots to branch off the cord and exit the spinal column
  • Matching sets of facet joints that connect the T3 to the T1 and T2 vertebrae
  • Additional facet joints that connect ribs to the vertebrae while allowing for slight articulation

The T3 vertebra, like the other 11 thoracic vertebrae that comprise the thoracic spine, is tasked with providing support to the rib cage. This also means that the thoracic spine doesn’t offer the same degree of mobility as the more flexible spine segments in the neck and in the lower back. As a result of this stability, damage to the thoracic spine is less common than in the more active cervical spine and lumbar spine, although spinal deterioration at the thoracic spine can certainly still occur.

T3 vertebra problems and treatment

Within the thoracic spine, facet joints are prone to arthritis, nerve roots can become compressed and stenosis can narrow a foramen, all of which are leading causes of upper and middle back pain. These conditions can each result from regular aging, disease or injury and are not mutually exclusive. Therefore, if you experience pain resulting from foraminal stenosis, you are likely feeling the effects of nerve compression.

To treat these conditions, many doctors will recommend a series of nonsurgical treatments, including physical therapy, chiropractic care, anti-inflammatories, acupuncture and pain medication. However, for some patients, spine surgery is necessary to remove pressure from a thoracic nerve. If you are recommended to undergo spine surgery, we encourage you to contact Laser Spine Institute with any questions or concerns regarding your condition or to learn about our minimally invasive procedures.

The team of highly skilled surgeons at Laser Spine Institute is able to use a less than 1-inch incision and muscle-sparing techniques in order to alleviate the discomfort associated with a condition at the T3 vertebra level. Our minimally invasive procedures are a safer and effective alternative compared to traditional procedures and offer patients no lengthy recovery.^

Since 2005, we have had the privilege of helping more than 75,000 patients find relief from their debilitating conditions. Reach out to us today so we can guide you on your journey to wellness by reviewing your no-cost MRI review* and determining if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.