Spinal Glossary: T

  • T#: The letter T followed by a number identifies a specific vertebra in the thoracic spine. For example, T3 is the third vertebra in the thoracic spine.
  • TENS: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. A form of electrical numbing used to block pain perception.
  • thoracic: Mid-upper back area between the cervical (neck region) and lumbar (low back) spine.
  • traction: Traction applies intermittent or continuous force by mechanical or manual methods to elongate the spine.
  • trigger point injections: Injection of local numbing agent (with or without corticosteroid) into soft tissues (i.e., muscles or ligaments) along the spine or over the back of the pelvis. Generally used for pain control.
  • Tx: Treatment.
  • torn disc: A rupture in the tough exterior of an intervertebral disc, called the annulus fibrosus. This condition can occur as a result of the natural aging process; intervertebral discs tend to dry out and lose flexibility over time, making them more prone to deterioration. Sudden impact from athletic injuries, car accidents and other forms of trauma also can cause a disc to tear.
  • tai chi: A system of exercise based on the ancient Chinese martial art Tai Chi Quan; emphasizes slow, controlled movements to improve balance, coordination, strength, flexibility and stamina.
  • thinning disc: The loss of height within an intervertebral disc; typically associated with diminished water content within the nucleus pulposus and is a natural byproduct of the aging process or a sign of degenerative disc disease.
  • traditional back surgery: Highly invasive surgical procedure designed to address spinal abnormalities by permanently fusing one or more vertebral segments together; generally accomplished by implanting metal or plastic stabilizing implants and, in some cases, bone grafts. Can be performed from the front (anterior), the back (posterior) or the side (posterolateral).
  • Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF): A traditional open back surgery used to alleviate the symptoms produced by a compressed nerve within the lumbar (lower back) region of the spine; involves the replacement of a diseased or damaged intervertebral disc with bone graft.