About Thoracic Herniated Discs
Thoracic intervertebral discs are normally soft and cushion the spine during stress. These discs are found between the vertebral bodies (bones of the spine). A spinal disk has a soft, jellylike center (nucleus) encased in a tougher, rubbery exterior (annulus). Sometimes called a “slipped disc” or a “ruptured disc”, a herniated disc occurs when some of the nucleus pushes out through a tear in the annulus. As discs lose water content with aging, they actually become less susceptible to herniation. Disc herniations occur when the intradiscal pressure, which is influenced heavily by mechanics and position, exceeds the annulus’s ability to contain the disc. Herniations can be classified further as protrusions or extrusions depending on the size of the herniation. When the material from the nucleus exits the disc, it generally makes contact and irritates the nearby nerves. Depending on where the herniated disc is and how large of a herniation has occurred, patients may present with severe mid-back pain, low back pain, leg pain, numbness, tingling or even weakness in the leg. On the other hand, some individuals who have small herniated discs may endorse no symptoms. It is more common to have cervical and lumbar herniated discs than thoracic herniated discs.
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Symptoms of Thoracic Herniated Discs
Patients who suffer from a thoracic herniated disc may endorse symptoms of mid-back pain with radiation of pain from their mid-back around their side to their abdomen. The pain may radiate into the groin, down the back, or even into the chest. The pain may be described as a sharp, shooting, “electric” type pain that is sudden and severe in nature. The pain is oftentimes made worse with bending forward and activity. Patients who suffer from herniated discs may also have other spine related conditions including thoracic stenosis or thoracic degenerative disc disease.
Treatment for Thoracic Herniated Discs
Procedural treatments for thoracic disc herniations can include cortisone or steroid injections under live imaging guidance via an interlaminar approach. The location of the injection is decided by the distribution of symptoms and imaging findings. For those looking to avoid steroids and surgical options, Regenexx regenerative medicine procedures may offer a novel solution. Using a combination of platelet-rich plasma (PRP), platelet-lysate and bone marrow concentrate containing stem cells, we are able to heal damaged and herniated discs without the need for surgery. These healing cells are injected directly into damaged intervertebral discs and their surrounding structures to promote healing. Most patients report dramatic improvements in pain and function after these procedures with minimal downtime.
Our interventional spine specialists are experts in Regenexx regenerative medicine treatments. If you are interested to learn more about Regenexx and whether you qualify for treatment, please reach out to Ospina Medical, located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City to speak with one of our Regenexx providers today.
Thoracic Herniated Discs FAQs
How do I know if I have thoracic herniated discs?
Patients may have one or more symptoms that cue them into a herniated disc in the thoracic region. There may be pain associated with one or both legs, including numbness, tingling, and sensations that you feel travel up the leg. You may also notice weakness or muscle spasms in your leg if a thoracic disc is herniated.
How common is it to have this condition?
Generally speaking, having thoracic herniated discs can be relatively rare. More often than not, patients suffer from herniated discs in the lumbar or cervical spine. The rarity of this diagnosis emphasizes the importance of trusting your provider, such as the ones at Ospina Medical, to be sufficiently experienced in how to diagnose and treat thoracic herniated discs.
What caused my thoracic disc hernation?
There are a couple of factors which can influence the herniation of a thoracic disc. One underlying cause we may look into is a degenerative disc disease, in which your spine is weaked from age or wear and causes gradual breakdown of the thoracic spine. You may also exhibit symptoms of this condition if there is a specific, acute trauma associated with this region of the spine, such as a sharp impact or sports injury.