Thoracic Spine Doctors
Do you have pain in your upper back? The thoracic spine can be the site of many conditions that cause severe pain in your middle and upper back area.
Spine Specialists in Catonsville, Columbia, Eldersburg
The spine specialists at The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics will take the time to thoroughly evaluate your condition. They will explore conservative, nonsurgical treatment options to alleviate your pain, but should surgery be necessary, our spinal surgeons have expertise in state-of-the-art procedures to help correct conditions of the thoracic spine.
About The Thoracic Spine: Treating Neck & Upper Back Pain
Located in the upper back, the thoracic spine is composed of twelve bones called vertebrae. The thoracic spine has a normal forward curvature. Many spine conditions can occur at the thoracic spine, including scoliosis, degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, and nerve compression.
Symptoms of a thoracic spine problem may include:
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Gradual pain
- Sudden pain after injury
- Intense burning pain
- Pressure, numbness, tingling, weakness
- Shooting pain that spreads to the arms
- Sitting may make symptoms worse
How to Treat Upper Back Pain
There are numerous treatment options for upper back pain, depending on the type of pain – acute (sudden, sharp, caused by something specific) or chronic (lasting more than six months) – and its location. For example, a strain or minor injury can be treated with bed rest, an ice pack, and over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen. And once the inflammation settles down, a heating pad can be applied to help soothe muscles and connective tissues. If, on the other hand, the upper back pain is chronic, there are various remedies, including:
- Correcting your posture to relieve stress on your back
- Sleeping on a medium-firm mattress
- Aquatic therapy
- Massage therapy
- Applied heat
- Muscle relaxant medication
- Chiropractic care
- Nerve stimulation
Treating Neck Pain
Mild to moderate neck pain typically responds well to self-care within two to three weeks. However, if the pain persists, your doctor might recommend:
- Muscle relaxant or tricyclic antidepressant medication
- Physical therapy in the form of alignment and neck-strengthening exercises
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- Short-term immobilization with a soft collar that supports your neck
- Corticosteroid injections near nerve roots
For more severe cases, our surgeons perform the following state-of-the-art thoracic spine procedures:
Scoliosis surgery is typically performed in patients with a spinal curvature greater than 40 degrees. The surgery, which involves fusing the affected vertebrae together, will decrease the abnormal curvature and prevent it from progressing.
Our spine surgeons will access the spine using an incision on the side of the chest or abdomen, rather than the front as the name suggests. The vertebrae are fused together using bone grafts, along with rods and screws to straighten and stabilize the vertebrae until the graft heals.
Herniated discs in the cervical and lumbar region of the spine are much easier to treat than those in the thoracic region. The thoracic spine is protected by the ribs and sternum and is also in close proximity to vital organs such as the heart and the lungs, which makes this area more difficult to access and susceptible to complications.
To correct a herniated disc in the thoracic spine, our spine surgeons will use a minimally invasive lateral approach. The surgery involves making a small incision on the side of the rib cage to access the affected thoracic disc and remove the part of the disc that is putting pressure on the spinal cord or nerves.
Minimally invasive posterior fusion of vertebrae in the thoracic regions of the spine is performed to relieve pain and symptoms caused by conditions such as spondylolisthesis (slipped vertebrae), degenerative disc disease, compressed spinal nerves, and recurrent disc herniation.
Our spine surgeon will access the affected discs through a small incision on the back, while the patient lies face down. Decompression and fusion involves removing the lamina and affected disc(s) and fusing them together using a bone graft, screws, and rods.
Our spine surgeons also treat patients with spine fractures and dislocations in the upper and middle back, which most often occur due to an auto accident, sports-related injury, or fall.