We provide Telehealth consultations. Call us today to schedule a virtual visit.
Skip to main content

All About Thoracic Disc Herniation

All About Thoracic Disc Herniation

Thoracic disc herniation is less common than its lumbar or cervical counterparts but can still cause significant discomfort and impairment. In this blog, Dr. John Regan and the team here at Spine Group Beverly Hills shed light on this lesser-known type of disc herniation. 

Here’s everything you need to know about thoracic disc herniation. 

Defining thoracic disc herniation

Simply put, thoracic disc herniations are disc herniations that occur in your thoracic spine. To fully embrace that definition, you need to think about what your thoracic spine is and what exactly happens when you have a herniation.

What is your thoracic spine?

The word "thoracic" originates from the Latin word "thorax," which refers to the chest or trunk of the body. The thoracic spine refers to the middle spine, consisting of 12 vertebrae, labeled T1 through T12 running from the base of your neck down to the base of your ribs. 

 

Everything above that is considered your cervical (neck) spine and everything below is considered your lumbar spine. Any herniation that affects T1 through T12 is considered a thoracic disc herniation. The most common location of a thoracic disc herniation is at T7 and T8.

What happens when you have a herniation?

Disc herniations occur when the soft inner core of a disc in your thoracic spine protrudes through the tough outer layer, which puts pressure on nearby nerves or your spinal cord itself. This can result in pain, numbness, weakness, and other symptoms depending on the location and severity of the herniation.

Risk factors of thoracic disc herniation 

There are several potential risk factors and causes of thoracic disc herniation including:

Aging

As you age, the discs in your spine undergo wear and tear, which makes them more susceptible to herniation. 

Injury

Injury or trauma to the thoracic spine can cause disc herniation. For example, a fall or a sports injury that leads to a sudden impact on your upper back can contribute to a thoracic disc herniation.

Repetitive strain

Certain occupations or activities that involve repetitive movements or heavy lifting can increase the risk of disc herniation. Reaching up and twisting at the same time can also exacerbate your symptoms.

Symptoms of thoracic disc herniation

The symptoms of thoracic disc herniation can vary depending on the location and severity of your herniation. Common signs and symptoms include:

Because some herniations on higher vertebrae (e.g. T2) can be mistaken for cervical disc disease, it’s important to know exactly what’s causing your pain.

Diagnosing and treating thoracic disc herniation

An accurate diagnosis is your first step in feeling better. Diagnosing thoracic disc herniation typically involves a combination of medical history review, physical examination, and diagnostic imaging tests such as MRI or CT scans. 

Once Dr. Regan confirms the source of your pain, he may recommend treatment options such as medication, steroid injections, and physical therapy. If conservative options aren’t enough to ease your symptoms, Dr Regan may suggest minimally invasive disc replacement surgery

If you have back pain and suspect you have a disc herniation (in any part of your spine!), give our Beverly Hills, California, a call at 424-238-3281. Or, simply click here to request an appointment.

You Might Also Enjoy...

5 Ways to Manage Osteoarthritis Neck Pain

5 Ways to Manage Osteoarthritis Neck Pain

Osteoarthritis in your neck can make even the most mundane tasks at home or work painful. If you’re struggling with neck pain, keep reading to learn five ways to manage osteoarthritis neck pain.

How Does Scoliosis Affect You Long Term?

If you’re facing a scoliosis diagnosis, you might wonder how it will impact you in the long term. Untreated and undermanaged scoliosis can affect you in many ways. Read on to learn how it affects you and how we can help.
How to Prepare for Artificial Disc Replacement

How to Prepare for Artificial Disc Replacement

Artificial disc replacement can help alleviate chronic back pain. Are you preparing for your upcoming artificial disc replacement? Continue reading to learn practical tips to prepare your mind, body, and home for your surgery.
5 Medical Conditions That Fuel Back Pain

5 Medical Conditions That Fuel Back Pain

Occasional back pain isn’t uncommon, especially if you sleep in an odd position or have poor posture. However, medical conditions can also cause back pain. Continue reading to learn about five medical conditions that fuel pain.
How to Reduce Your Lingering Neck Pain

How to Reduce Your Lingering Neck Pain

Chronic neck pain can make it hard to sleep, perform daily tasks, or even relax comfortably. Read on to learn strategies for reducing lingering neck pain that you can try at home.
3 Telltale Signs You May Have Spinal Stenosis

3 Telltale Signs You May Have Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a degenerative condition characterized by narrowed spaces in your spinal canal. As your nerves become irritated by the lack of space, it can lead to painful symptoms. Here are three telltale signs you have this condition.