The thoracic spine is located in the middle part of your spine, between the cervical spine in your neck and the lumbar spine in your lower back. It consists of 12 vertebral levels, classified as T-1 to T-12 (“T” for “thoracic”).
Any injury to the thoracic spine is considered serious and may be permanent, but this type of back injury is almost never fatal. Each vertebra in the spine is associated with the nerves that are in that section of the spinal cord, and it is the nerve damage that can cause debilitating injury or pain.
The nerves can be damaged for various reasons. Some of the natural reasons for thoracic spine nerve damage include a herniated disc, thoracic radiculopathy, or a narrowing of the foramen. External reasons for nerve damage include blunt-force trauma and surgery.
Symptoms of thoracic spine nerve damage are hard to ignore. Let’s talk about the signs and symptoms of nerve damage in the thoracic spine and what you can do about it.
What Are the Symptoms of Thoracic Nerve Damage?
With thoracic nerve damage, the symptoms will depend on which vertebral levels have incurred the damage. Injury to the thoracic nerves usually result in paraplegia. If the T-1 to T-5 nerves near the top of the thoracic spine are affected, it can cause issues in the chest and upper torso. Injury to T-6 to T-12 thoracic nerves may also result in problems controlling the bowels or bladder.
Your thoracic nerves may have been damaged if you are experiencing any of these symptoms:
- Pain that starts from the lower neck to the shoulder, back, and chest
- Back pain that increases with activity
- Numbness and tingling in the same area of the shoulder, back, and chest
- Radiating weakness
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle spasms in the upper or mid-back
- Tenderness in the upper or mid-back
- Difficulty and discomfort when sitting
- Difficulty turning or bending the back or torso
These symptoms listed above can occur due to a car accident, a sports injury, or natural spinal degeneration.
Treating Thoracic Nerve Damage
Treatment of thoracic nerve damage usually involves physical therapy and occupational therapy, wherein the patient is taught targeted exercises. These may include how to control their torso while sitting, how to use their hands and arms, how to use assistive devices, and how to retain whatever function is left.
Spine Doctors in Central Maryland
For over 50 years, our orthopedic specialists at the Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland have been helping patients recover from severe back pain conditions, including problems with the thoracic spine.
Whatever back pain or neck pain symptoms are troubling you and limiting your activities, we have the knowledge, skills, and experience to help you live normally again. To schedule a consultation with one of our orthopedists, call our team today at (410) 644-1880 or (855) 4MD-BONE (463-2663) or request an appointment via our online form now. We look forward to seeing you here!