Chiropractic treatment of the thoracic spine

Injuries to the thoracic (middle) spine are less common than injuries to the cervical (upper) or lumbar (lower) spine. This is due to its relative stability, which is fairly rigid and attached to the ribs and breastbone. However, thoracic spine conditions can still develop, leading to pain that can seriously affect your ability to do normal activities.

Some conditions that can cause pain in the thoracic spine include ruptured discs, scoliosis, degenerative disc disease, protruding discs, and arthritis of the spine. The most common causes of injury to the thoracic spine are strain from lifting heavy objects, or traumatic injury, such as a car accident. When thoracic spine pain is present, some people may choose to try chiropractic care either as an alternative to conventional care or as part of a holistic treatment plan.

Basics of chiropractic medicine

Chiropractic care is an alternative medical discipline that uses manual manipulation of the vertebrae and spinal joints in order to relieve pain and restore normal function to the back. In traditional chiropractic theory, these manipulations, or adjustments, are necessary to the patient’s health beyond their importance to the back. Early chiropractic philosophy was founded on the theory that disorders of the musculoskeletal system affect the patient’s general health via the central nervous system.

The theories and practices of chiropractic have been considered somewhat controversial since their invention in the 1890s. However, many modern chiropractors practice a more evidence-based approach that is in line with mainstream medical science. Always work with your primary care doctor to find a licensed and reputable chiropractor who is right for your condition and medical history.

How Chiropractors Treat Thoracic Spine Problems

No matter what your condition, a chiropractic treatment plan will begin with an initial consultation with the chiropractor. During this initial meeting, the chiropractor will take a complete medical history, a thorough description of the symptoms the patient is presenting with, and perform an examination. Tests such as X-rays and MRIs may also be ordered to help facilitate or confirm diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been made, the chiropractor decides on a treatment plan, which is then executed over a series of sessions.

Specific techniques used in chiropractic treatments of thoracic spine conditions include:

  • Adjusting from the prone position, where the patient lies flat on his or her stomach on an adjusting table.
  • Adjusting from a supine position, with the patient lying flat on his or her back.
  • Incline adjusting, where the chiropractor uses a bench table with attachments that allow it to be raised to a 45- or 50-degree angle.
  • Therapeutic massage
  • Nutritional counseling

If conservative treatments, including chiropractic care, do not offer relief after attempting them for weeks or months, spine surgery may become an option. Patients in this situation should contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how our minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery can provide a shorter recovery time and less risk of complication compared to traditional open back procedures.^

We can provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.