Your thoracic vertebrae comprise the middle segment of the spine, where thoracic herniated discs may occur. These 12 vertebrae are located between the cervical (neck) area and the lumbar (lower back area). These upper back vertebrae run from the spot where the neck meets the back above the shoulder blade level and continue down to the bottom of the rib cage. The spinal bones are smaller in size at the top and grow larger down toward the lumbar area. These vertebrae have facets on the sides to interact with the ribs. A thoracic herniated disc may be caused by injury like a fall, strain or twist, or due to a cracked vertebra, a disc or discs weakened by aging, scar tissue or other causes.
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7 Thoracic Herniated Disc Symptoms
NOTE: If pain and symptoms as described below does develop, be sure to see your doctor right away for a proper diagnosis. Thoracic pain may signal a critical health problem, especially when associated with numbness or bowel and bladder symptoms.
- If you have a herniated disc in the thoracic area, you may have no symptoms at all, at first.
- At some point you may develop dull upper back pain, which can extend into the neck or the lower back, which may be either constant or intermittent. Pain may become sharper when coughing or sneezing.
- Pain may potentially also occur in the stomach area, in the sternum (behind the breast bone) or the groin.
- Pain may occur in a band-like manner within the chest wall. Because of the many areas where pain can appear or radiate into, a thoracic herniated disc may be misdiagnosed as a hernia, gallbladder inflammation, kidney stones or even a heart attack. When pain in the chest or belly occurs, conditions of the heart, lungs, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract as well as other non-spine musculoskeletal problems must be considered and ruled out.
- Pain that travels around the body and into one or both legs, which are areas supplied by the affected spinal nerve.
- Besides dull pain, many patients experience, burning sensations, shooting pain, tingling, prickling or even a feeling like electric shock.
- Sensory disturbances like overactive reflexes, numbness, balance problems, difficulty walking, lower extremity weakness or bladder/bowel dysfunction may indicate a more serious problem
Instead of or in addition to a thoracic herniated disc, there may be other problems within the spine itself that must be investigated. Pain could come from a spinal fracture due to osteoporosis, an infection, tumor or metabolic disorder.
The good news
Your back specialist can effectively help you to manage or eliminate pain and other symptoms with non-surgical, conservative treatment for thoracic herniated discs. At the Illinois Back Institute, we offer a free consultation with a back specialist to evaluate your back pain. The consultation can help determine if you’re a candidate for non-invasive Functional Disc RehydrationTM or other natural treatments. Functional Disc RehydrationTM is an innovative, proven treatment developed by Dr. Jeff Winternheimer, D.C., of the Illinois Back Institute. Find out more today!