Thoracic (Mid Back) Pain Finger Pain

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Finger Pain as a Symptom of Thoracic Spine Damage

When trauma or injury has occurred to the thoracic spine, nerves or blood vessels may become compressed and as a result, cause pain in the extremities including the fingers. This pain may or may not be accompanied by numbness or tingling.

Thoracic Pain Symptoms – Finger Pain

The thoracic spine consists of the upper and middle back and includes the bones, muscles, joints, nerves, and connective tissue.  It includes 12 vertebrae and the ribcage for stability. Whether due to degenerative illness or injury, when the thoracic spine is damaged, it can affect surrounding nerves which can cause finger pain.

Understanding Finger Pain as a Symptom of Thoracic Spine Damage

The vertebrae medically named T1-T12 make up the thoracic spine. Thoracic spine damage includes any injury to the vertebrae, ribcage, muscles, joints, nerves, or connective tissue in the upper or middle back. Thoracic spine damage can be caused by a fall, accident, extreme sport, herniated disc (rare), degenerative discs from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoporosis, or a narrowing of the spinal canal as part of the aging process.  Unlike the cervical spine or lumbar spine, the thoracic spine is made for stability of the core and offers limited flexibility. This means the thoracic spine is usually less prone to injury. However, accidents happen. If a herniated disc is located between vertebrae T1 and C7 (cervical vertebrae), this can form a C8 nerve root impingement, resulting in finger pain and numbness as well as tingling in the affected arm and hand.

When blood vessels or nerves become compressed due to thoracic spine damage, the result can be pain, numbness, and tingling in the extremities. Finger pain may cause issues with writing, typing, or even using a phone. Alleviating the pain by taking an over-the-counter NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug)  may help but is important to see a physician first to determine what exactly is causing the finger pain. Thoracic spine damage or any other type of spine injury is best evaluated by an orthopedic or neurosurgeon who specializes in treatment of spinal conditions.

Although finger pain may seem like a small annoyance, it is often a symptom of a larger problem.  When that larger issue is the result of thoracic spine damage, conservative treatments including physical therapy or chiropractic care may help alleviate the pain as the body comes back into alignment and posture is corrected. Other treatments may be necessary depending on the cause and severity of the thoracic spine damage. A spine expert will administer an exam and evaluation, and confirm a diagnosis and prognosis, before recommending a treatment plan. The goal of the plan of care should be to decrease the thoracic spine and related finger pain while increasing the patient’s quality of life and ability to return to otherwise normal daily activities.

At-a-Glance: Finger Pain as a Symptom of Thoracic Spine Damage

  • Although rare in the thoracic spine,  herniated discs can cause pain in the extremities, including the fingers
  • Patients with finger pain as a result of thoracic spine damage may also experience numbness and tingling in the affected hand/fingers
  • If you have sustained a spinal injury and are experiencing thoracic pain that is radiating to the fingers, talk to a spine health provider right away
  • Physical therapy may help lessen finger pain as the body is brought back into alignment

Health Tips For Finger Pain

  • When possible, rest fingers until pain subsides
  • Elevate hands using a pillow and consider removing all jewelry in case swelling occurs
  • Ice affected fingers/hand for 10 to 15 minutes at a time
  • Talk to your spine health expert about taking an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) to prevent inflammation

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