The thoracic spine is comprised of twelve vertebral bodies (T1-T12) that make up the mid-region of the spine. This section of the spine has a kyphotic curve (C-shape). The firm attachment to the rib cage at each level of the thoracic spine provides stability and structural support and allows very little motion, which means that thoracic disc injuries are rare. However, irritation of the large back and shoulder muscles or joint dysfunction in the upper back can be very painful.
Some common procedures for treating thoracic disorders include:
- Disc replacement
In artificial disk replacement, worn or damaged disk material between the small bones in the spine (vertebrae) is removed and replaced with a synthetic or “artificial” disk. The goal of the procedure is to relieve back pain while maintaining more normal motion than is allowed with some other procedures, such as spinal fusion.
- Spinal fusion
Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure used to correct problems with the small bones in the spine (vertebrae). It is essentially a “welding” process. The basic idea is to fuse together two or more vertebrae so that they heal into a single, solid bone.
A laminectomy is a surgical procedure that removes a portion of the vertebral bone called the lamina, which is the roof of the spinal canal.
A discectomy is the surgical removal of abnormal disc material that presses on a nerve root or the spinal cord. The procedure involves removing a portion of an intervertebral disc, which causes pain, weakness or numbness by stressing the spinal cord or radiating nerves.