Thoracic (Mid Back) Pain Bulging Disc

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Is a Bulging Disc to Blame for Your Thoracic Back Pain?

Without question, a bulging disc can be the primary cause of back pain in your thoracic or middle back. A bulging disc can expand and pinch a nerve in the spinal column resulting in a sharp pain. The interior of the disc, or nucleus pulposus is a gel-like substance that provides cushioning that is contained within the disc structure.

Understanding How A Bulging Disc Can Cause Thoracic Pain

To visualize what a bulging disc is and how it can become chronically painful imagine that each disc is a shock absorber that protects the vertebrae from a wide range of lateral and compressive shocks. These jolts can range from low impact stress that you might experience when you walk, to high impact stress you may experience when you play tennis, football or basketball.

You can also experience compressive stress on your discs. For example a weight lifter will place significant compressive loads on each disc which can cause a bulging disc. But it doesn’t have to be a 300-pound barbell to cause compressive stress.  A mother who is constantly picking up toddlers and groceries and performing routine work tasks, can also place repetitive compressive stress on a disc that can result in a bulging disc.

It is important to understand that the outer edge of the spinal disc (annulus) is not made of bone but of thin layers of cartilage which is made of a strong and flexible collagen Type-1 fiber. If the disc is over pressurized, the soft interior will expand against the annulus and begin to form a bulge that deforms the disc. Another way to visualize a bulging disc is to view it as if it were a hamburger patty that appears too large for the bun that it is in.

There is a distinction between a bulging disc and a herniated disc. A herniated disc is what happens when the nucleus pulposus breaks through or ruptures the annulus. When this happens the ability of the disc to reduce shock is significantly compromised.

There are several non-surgical solutions for a bulging disc such as chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy, yoga, acupuncture and medications. All patients are different, and some will find that their pain just simply will not go away, no matter what they do. For them, minimally invasive surgery may prove to be the best recourse. Basic Spine provides the full spectrum of minimally invasive outpatient options with many surgeries taking less than an hour to perform, and with patients returning home on the same day.
Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3382964/ 

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