Thoracic (Mid Back) Pain Foraminotomy

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Foraminotomy as a Thoracic Pain Treatment

Foraminotomy as a thoracic pain treatment is a minimally invasive surgery used to remedy thoracic disc protrusions. Disc protrusions can put pressure on nerves and cause pain in the upper-mid-back that can also radiate to the extremities.

Thoracic Pain Treatments –Foraminotomy

In some cases, thoracic disc protrusions do not require surgery and other alternatives are sufficient to remedy the problems they may be causing. However, if the condition is severe enough or when more conservative methods have failed to provide adequate thoracic pain relief, a minimally invasive foraminotomy as a thoracic pain treatment may be recommended.

Is Foraminotomy the Right Thoracic Pain Treatment for You?

The upper-mid-back is also known as the thoracic spine and along with the 12 vertebrae that it’s made up of, there are many nerves that exit along this part of the spine and out to the extremities. A foraminotomy as a thoracic pain treatment is performed in an effort to alleviate pressure on these nerves that is being caused by a soft-tissue injury or other degenerative thoracic spine condition. Thoracic pain can occur for a variety of reasons, but chronic upper-mid-back pain, especially when it radiates to the extremities, is often due to a problem with the nerves in the affected area. These nerves must exit through the spine, through openings called foramen. When these openings are too small or have become narrowed due to damage in the thoracic spine, a procedure known as a foraminotomy as a thoracic pain treatment may be suggested by your spine health expert.

Unfortunately, there are many reasons that the foramen in the thoracic spine can shrink and overcrowd the nerves. In most cases it is either a herniated thoracic disc that is pressing against a nerve as it exits the foramen or a bone spur that is overcrowding the nerve as it exits the spine. Whatever the reason, when this happens the nerves become irritated and can cause chronic upper-mid-back pain as well as weakness and in the limbs. If left untreated, the condition may become so severe that surgical intervention to fix the problem is recommended.

Foraminotomy as a thoracic pain treatment is a surgical remedy that is used when other non-surgical efforts have been attempted without benefit. The goal of this procedure is to eliminate the pressure on the nerves and to relieve tension from the spinal nerve root.

During the foraminotomy procedure, a highly-trained spine surgeon will enlarge the space where the nerve root exits the spinal column. Simultaneously, the surgeon will remove any part of the thoracic disc that may be pressing on the nerve. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia and hospital recovery time typically lasts one to two days.  Most patients can be up and walking around within hours of surgery – though a proper recovery plan and possible physical therapy instructions will need to be explicitly followed for optimal results. It is important to review your recovery plan with your surgeon to be sure you derive the most thoracic pain relief benefit from foraminotomy surgery.

At-a-Glance: Foraminotomy as a Thoracic Pain Treatment

  • A minimally invasive procedure performed to increase the foraminal space, where the nerves exit the  thoracic spine
  • Formainotomy removes herniated discs or bone spurs and alleviates nerve pressure and thoracic pain
  • Patients may require a physical therapy plan in the weeks following recovery from thoracic foraminotmy.

Health Tips For Foraminotomy

  • It may be impossible to avoid herniated discs and bone spurs, so do not ignore discomfort or pain in the upper-mid-back, especially when it also causes symptoms that radiate to the arms and hands
  • You must follow your spine surgeon’s thoracic foraminotomy after-care instructions for the best result
  • Good posture is always useful in combating any type of back pain, including thoracic pain
  • Remain well-hydrated if you have suffered herniated thoracic discs as discs are mostly water and need lubrication to function well

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