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.
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 ProcedureWhat to ExpectRecovery Times
Problems from anesthesia.
A deep infection in the surgical wound.
A skin infection.
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.
^Results are typical, but not guaranteed, each patients experience with spine surgery will differ.
For more information, visit usaspinecare.com/results. The information contained on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to serve as a replacement for a medical diagnosis.
*Our MRI review is an informational review of the MRI report that you provide to us and is not a form of diagnosis. A diagnosis and a final determination of whether you may benefit from treatment at USA Spine Care can only be made after you have been physically examined by our medical professionals at USA Spine Care. The MRI review has no value and will not be billed.