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Thoracic spinal stenosis – symptoms and treatment

A narrowing of the spinal canal or nerve root exits in the middle of the back is known as thoracic spinal stenosis. This degenerative spine condition can involve any of the 12 thoracic vertebrae, which are numbered T1 to T12.

Thoracic spinal stenosis is different than spinal stenosis in the cervical (upper) or lumbar (lower) regions because the thoracic vertebrae are joined to the ribs. The thoracic spine is not as mobile as the neck and lower back, but it does support the body’s ability to rotate and move from side to side. This rotation is the primary motion affected in patients with thoracic spinal stenosis.

Symptoms and causes of thoracic spinal stenosis

Symptoms of thoracic spinal stenosis may include:

  • Pain in the ribs
  • Pain in the affected area of the back
  • Pain radiating down the back or legs
  • Aching in the legs that leads to difficulty walking
  • Pain in one or more internal organs

It is not unheard of for thoracic spinal stenosis to be accompanied by lumbar spinal stenosis, cervical spinal stenosis or both.

Although spinal stenosis in the thoracic region can be related to a congenital birth defect or injury, it is often a result of the natural aging process. The vertebrae, discs and ligaments in the thoracic region of the spine — as well as other regions — can develop a number of conditions over time due to wear and tear, injury or overuse. All of the following conditions can contribute to narrowing of the spinal canal:

Pain associated with thoracic spinal stenosis is usually the result of vertebrae, discs, bone spurs, ligaments or other tissue expanding into the mid-spinal nerve passages, causing potential narrowing. This puts undue pressure on the spinal cord or a nerve root in the thoracic region, with painful symptoms often resulting.

Treatment options for thoracic stenosis

If you are experiencing chronic pain and other symptoms due to thoracic spinal stenosis, or from stenosis in another region of your spine, contact USA Spine Care. Our minimally invasive procedures can help treat spinal stenosis even if a full course of conservative treatments has proven ineffective. Our board-certified surgeons+ can access the spine with a less than 1-inch incision, allowing for a streamlined outpatient experience.

We are pleased to offer a no-cost MRI review* to help you determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.

Learn more today

If you're living with spinal stenosis in the upper spine and searching for relief, reach out to USA Spine Care for help. Our multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping people develop the right care plan to  reach treatment goals and achieve lasting relief.

Contact us today to learn more. Call toll free 1-866-249-1627.

Spinal Stenosis "Quick Answers"

Depending on the region and severity Spinal stenosis feels like tingling, burning and/or weakness in the hands, arms, neck, lower back or legs. It may also feel like a radiating pain or shooting shock-like pain. Read more in the links below: Spinal Stenosis Spinal Stenosis Overview Defining Spinal Stenosis Researching Spinal Stenosis Learning About Back Stenosis Spinal Stenosis Pathophysiology
The types of spinal stenosis are region based and consist of cervical (neck), thoracic (mid back) and lumbar or lower back. In addition, foraminal stenosis is the narrowing of the foramen. Read more in the links below: Spinal Stenosis of the Neck Cervical Stenosis - Basic Facts Neck Stenosis Causes Neck Stenosis Treatment Central Canal Stenosis Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Spinal Stenosis in the Back
Spinal Stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. This condition, most often located in the Lumbar spine, may be caused by degeneration of the spine, wear and tear, sports injury, & collapsing discs. Read more in the links below. What Causes Spinal Stenosis? Obesity May Lead to a Stenosis Diagnosis Age and its Role in the Development of Spinal Stenosis Spinal Stenosis Causes Identifying Common Causes From Birth Defects to Getting Older Degenerative Conditions Car Accident Injuries
The symptoms of spinal stenosis include tingling or numbness in the extremities, pain and weakness in the neck, back and/or legs. In severe cases bladder, bowel dysfunction/continence. Learn more in the links below: What Are the Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis? Spinal Stenosis Symptoms Spinal Stenosis Diagnosis What Should I Do If I Think I Have Spinal Stenosis? Spinal Stenosis and Hand Pain Recognizing Spinal Stenosis Have You Been Diagnosed? About Your Diagnosis Diagnostic Process Helping Your Physician How a Diagnosis Is Made Arriving at a Diagnosis
Physician specialties that treat spinal stenosis include: Pain management & rehabilitation physicians, spine surgeons, orthopedic specialists & neurosurgeons. Read more about these specialties in the links below: Doctors Who Treat Spinal Stenosis Spinal Decompression Doctors
Patients can expect recovery to last 4-6 weeks in most cases (depending on the complexity of your condition). People who choose minimally invasive spine surgery recover faster and get back to work sooner than those who choose open back surgery. Read more in the links below: Recovery After a Procedure What to Expect Recovery Times

  • Problems from anesthesia.
  • A deep infection in the surgical wound.
  • A skin infection.
  • Blood clots.
  • Nerve injury, including weakness, numbness, or paralysis.
  • Tears in the fibrous tissue that covers the spinal cord and the nerve near the spinal cord. These tears may require more surgery.
  • Trouble passing urine, or loss of bladder or bowel control.
  • Long-term (chronic) pain, which happens after surgery in some cases.
  • The chance that the surgery won't relieve your symptoms. And even if you get better with surgery, there is a chance that you may get new symptoms in the future.
  • Death from problems caused by surgery, but this is rare.

Read more in the links below: Overview of Risk Factors Most Common Risk Factors Obesity & Spinal Stenosis Spinal Stenosis & Arthritis Treating Elderly Patients

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