The T5 vertebra — overview and related conditions

The fifth vertebra in the thoracic segment of the spine, commonly referred to as the T5 vertebra, is located in the upper body, between the chest and the collarbone. This bone is one of the 12 vertebrae in the thoracic (middle) spine that supports the rib cage and protects the internal organs in the chest.

Compared to the cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower) regions of the spine, the thoracic spine is less likely to develop painful conditions because it is attached to the rib cage. However, injury and other problems with the T5 vertebra can lead to chronic pain that can interfere with your life. If you are living with thoracic back pain, educating yourself through the following article about spinal anatomy and the full range of treatment options can be a crucial step in finding lasting relief.

Function of the T5 vertebra

The vertebrae are unique bones because they must provide mobility, while also being strong enough to support our body weight. While the thoracic spine is not nearly as mobile as the upper or lower regions of the spine, it must provide a degree of twisting and bending.

This is possible based on two parts of the spinal anatomy:

  • Spinal discs. These rubbery pads exist at every level of the spine and prevent bone-on-bone contact. Spinal discs act as shock absorbers, limiting the stress placed on the neck and back, while also allowing the neck and back to be flexible.
  • Facet joints. Existing in matching pairs on each vertebra, facet joints face upward and downward on the bone, allowing for the connection of adjacent vertebrae. These cartilage-coated structures are lubricated with a thick synovial fluid which provides motion.

The T5 vertebra, along with the rest of the spine, supports the upper body and allows for movement, while protecting the spinal cord as it travels. While the thoracic spine is less vulnerable to age-related degeneration than the other areas of the spine, traumatic injury can lead to compression fractures and disc problems that can compress spinal nerves. Common symptoms of a condition affecting the T5 vertebra include upper back pain, as well as radiating symptoms in the chest and abdomen.

Treatment options for conditions affecting the T5 vertebra

If you are considering surgery due to discomfort in the T5 vertebra and extended conservative treatment has not provided relief, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our outpatient surgeries are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine procedures.^

At Laser Spine Institute, our muscle-sparing techniques result in less surgical blood loss and a reduced risk of infection, which allow patients to be up and walking within a few hours of surgery.^ We have helped more than 75,000 patients to date find relief from their chronic neck and back pain since 2005.

To learn more about whether our procedures would be effective in relieving your T5 vertebra pain, reach out to our dedicated team for a no-cost MRI review.* We will be able to determine if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.