The thoracic spine can be found in your mid-back. In this area, your vertebrae are attached to the ribs so you may experience loss of motion and find it difficult to rotate your torso. Although it’s not as common as other stenosis conditions, thoracic spinal stenosis can occur. Thoracic spinal stenosis is when the spinal canal space in your mid-back narrows and leads to pain and/or compression on your spinal nerves.

Symptoms of Thoracic Spinal Stenosis

The symptoms of thoracic spinal stenosis are different than those commonly associated with lumbar or cervical spinal stenosis. The most common symptoms include a limited ability to rotate the torso, sharp pain in the back that radiates to the lower back and legs, and difficulty moving side to side. Aching or discomfort in the legs, walking challenges, paralysis, bowel or bladder dysfunction, and paralysis may occur as well.

Causes of Thoracic Spinal Stenosis

While the natural process of aging is the most common cause of thoracic spinal stenosis, other conditions and circumstances such as genetics, osteoarthritis, herniated spinal discs, compression fractures, degenerated facet joints, and thicker ligaments may also lead to this condition, which is usually seen in men and women in their 50s and 60s.

Diagnosis of Thoracic Spinal Stenosis

Diagnosing thoracic spinal stenosis typically begins with a full exam and medical history review. During the diagnosis, you can expect a doctor to evaluate your current symptoms and their severity. They may also perform some imaging tests to help pinpoint the cause of stenosis and rule out diabetes tumors, and other conditions. 

X-rays to determine spinal instability and whether bone spurs are present as well as MRIS to help visualize compressed nerves will likely be conducted. If neurological damage is suspected, an EMG to view nerve damage or irritation may be necessary as well.

Treatment of Thoracic Spinal Stenosis 

Conservative treatments such as medications to help reduce inflammation and physical therapy to strengthen the muscles in the thoracic region may be recommended initially to treat thoracic spinal stenosis. If they fail to improve symptoms, a doctor may prescribe a surgical procedure such as a laminectomy, foraminotomy, or discectomy.

Contact SpineRad for more Information

If you’ve already seen a medical provider to find out whether or not you have thoracic spinal stenosis, we encourage you to get education and explanation from us. Contact us today for more information.