When you have mid-back pain, you can’t walk, lift or sometimes even turn your head without pain. One half of all working Americans suffer back pain every year, and if it happens to you, your life can change in a heartbeat. Sudden chest pains or pain while twisting point to a thoracic disc herniation. But with so many injuries and diseases that can strike your spine, you need a professional diagnosis and appropriate treatment. In northern New Jersey, Dr. Branko Skovrlj at NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute does it all for you using the latest technology and up-to-date practices. Dr. Skovrlj is a world-renowned neurosurgeon who has devoted his career to helping people like you out of back pain. Call today to schedule an appointment.
What Is a Thoracic Disc Herniation?
Your spine is composed of a column of vertebral bones, and in between each bone is a soft, pliable disc. These discs keep your vertebrae from rubbing against each other, providing flexibility and fluidity to your spine. Discs are also the shock absorbers of the spine. But when a disc in the middle of your back is damaged and the inner gel leaks out, the result is a thoracic disc herniation that can cause back pain and stiffness.
At NU-Spine, spine center in Edison, New Jersey, Dr. Branko Skovrlj, carries out extensive diagnostic testing for spinal problems to determine the source of your pain. An experienced and compassionate neurosurgeon, Dr. Skovrlj relies on state-of-the-art spinal medicine practices. Using the latest technology, he provides effective, results-based thoracic herniated disc treatment.
What Causes Thoracic Herniated Disc Pain?
Your thoracic spine stretches from the bottom of your neck to the bottom of your ribcage. Herniated discs in your mid-back are often caused by:
- A back injury that involves trauma to the upper area of your back
- Degenerative disc disease, a gradual wear and tear on the disc due to age — although degenerative disc disease more often strikes discs in your cervical spine and lumbar spine
- Cracked vertebrae
- A compression injury in your mid-back
- Weakened discs due to repeated injuries in the same area
- Changes in the shape of your vertebrae
When compromised, a disc goes through changes. Discs have a tough outer layer that keeps its soft, gel-like material on the inside in place. If outer layer is punctured, ripped or worn away for any reason, several things happen, all of which impact your health, such as:
- The soft inner material oozes out into the surrounding area, which is where your spinal cord and nerve roots are located.
- If the loose material pushes up against a nerve root, you experience the pain of a herniated disc.
- If the material leaks into your spinal canal, it narrows the space available for your spinal cord, causing a condition called stenosis, which is very painful.
- The ruptured material may also cause a chemical irritation of your nerves.
- The disc itself loses its full functionality, causing the vertebra above it and one below to move a little closer to each other. If they rub against each other, that too can cause pain.
Do I Have a Herniated Thoracic Disc?
The herniated disc material protrudes in a lateral or sideways direction, away from the disc that’s in between your vertebrae. Some of the symptoms that point to a herniated thoracic disc include:
- Pain that travels around your body and into one or both legs
- Pain in the upper or middle part of your back or your chest
- Headaches when you sit or lie in certain positions
- Numbness, tingling or a burning feeling in your legs
- Problems when walking or moving your legs
- Lack of strength in your arms or legs
- Loss of urinary or bowel control
Whenever you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, visit NU-Spine for a diagnosis. Thoracic disc herniation can drastically affect your life by causing chronic pain and limiting your range of motion. A herniated disc in your middle back does not heal on its own. In fact, the longer it goes untreated, the more likely your pain increases.
How Is Thoracic Disc Herniation Treated?
When you come in, Dr. Skovrlj completes a physical exam and takes your medical history. He may need to order some imaging tests as well. His goal is to determine a diagnosis for the underlying cause of your pain. If it is a thoracic disc herniation, he can develop a treatment plan to address it.
Your treatment for a herniated disc in the thoracic spine depends on many factors, including your age and overall health. Many people improve with non-surgical treatment, so the best spinal doctors start with conservative treatments that include:
- Over-the-counter or prescription pain medicine
- immobilization and short-term rest
- Physical therapy that includes targeted exercises
- Muscle relaxants
- An epidural steroid injection
What’s the Best Thoracic Herniated Disc Treatment?
The problem with non-invasive treatments is that they don’t always deliver long-term results, especially for herniated disc symptoms. It may be that a combination of conservative treatments with minimally-invasive surgical procedures provides the best outcomes. Surgical methods directly address the root causes of the herniation to get you back to a normal pain-free life.
To fight thoracic disc herniation, your spine specialist may recommend one or more surgical treatment procedures, such as:
- Minimally invasive laminectomy
- Transthoracic discectomy
- A corpectomy and spinal fusion combination
Dr. Skovrlj uses a multi-disciplinary approach to deliver the best treatment for a herniated disc in the thoracic spine. Contact NU-Spine today to get the help you need to improve the quality of your life.Page Updated on Jul 9, 2021 by Dr. Branko Skovrlj (Neurosurgeon / Spine surgeon) of NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute in New Jersey