Thoracic Disc (Discogenic) Pain
When we speak of disc pain or a slipped disc, we’re talking about the intervertebral discs that are found between each of the vertebrae that work as cushions or shock absorbers. Not only do these discs protect the vertebrae, but they also help with the spine’s movement.
The discs are made up of tough, fibrous connective tissues that surround a gel-like centre. The thoracic discs are those that are located between the vertebrae at the middle, or chest area, of the back, between the first seven vertebrae that make up the cervical vertebrae, or the neck, and the lower, or lumbar, vertebrae of the lower back.
What are the causes of Thoracic Disc (Discogenic) Pain?
A thoracic disc can cause pain when the gel-like centre is able to protrude out of the touch fibrous outer ring. This can happen for a variety of reasons but it is mostly associated with age. As the body gets older, the tough outer ring of the disc can break down and form cracks.
Eventually the outer ring will form cracks wide enough to allow the centre to bulge out. This can also happen because of an injury or because of simply putting too much pressure on the spine, causing the disc to rupture. The pain can come from the disc itself, as the outer ring of the disc well supplied with nerves, or from the disc putting pressure on the spinal cord or on nearby nerve roots.
It should be noted that the vast majority of disc problems happen in the lower back, followed by the neck, but discs can break down or be injured anywhere in the spine.
Symptoms of Thoracic Disc (Discogenic) Pain?
The symptoms of thoracic disc pain will vary depending on the severity of the damage. If the disc is only slightly damaged, the pain may be localized to the upper back, near the disc itself. If the disc damage is worse, it could be putting pressure on the spine, causing a weakness in the legs.
In many cases, the symptoms will sort themselves out with a minimal amount of rest and light pain medication such as ibuprofen or paracetamol, but in cases where the pain is constant or gets worse with time or the feeling of weakness in the legs becomes worse over time, it will be necessary to contact your doctor.
Treatment of Thoracic Disc (Discogenic) Pain?
For milder cases of thoracic disc pain, the best course of action is a minimum amount of rest, pain or anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy. Obesity can aggravate the pressure on the affected disc, so getting fit is also an effective form of treatment.
Severe cases in which the disc is putting a great deal of pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots may result in surgery. A thoracic discectomy can be performed if the pain has not improved with more conservative treatments or the weakness in the legs worsens.