Thoracic (Mid Back) Pain Hand Pain

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Hand Pain as a Symptom of Thoracic Spine Damage

When nerves or blood vessels are compressed due to a thoracic spine injury or degenerative disease, pain can be felt in various parts of the body, including the hands. This pain may also include numbness and tingling in the fingers or arm on the side of the body that is affected.

Thoracic Pain Symptoms –Hand Pain

The thoracic spine is comprised of the ribcage and 12 vertebrae along with an extensive network of muscles, joints, nerves, and connective tissue. Located in the upper-middle of the back, this part of the spine can be damaged as the result of traumatic injury or from a degenerative disease process. When this happens it can cause pain in the back that also radiates down the arm and into the hand.

Understanding Hand Pain as a Symptom of Thoracic Spine Damage

The ribcage, 12 vertebrae, muscles, joints, nerves, and connective tissue of the upper and middle back make up the thoracic spine. These vertebrae are labeled T1-T12 by medical experts. This area of the spine has limited flexibility and is usually very stable. Vertebrae T1-T10 cages the chest organs and connects to the sternum or breastbone. Vertebrae T11 and T12 protect the kidneys, however they do not connect to the sternum, and thus are not quite as stable. The discs between the vertebrae in the thoracic spine are thinner than those located in the lumbar or cervical areas. Due to this size, herniated discs are rare in this part of the back. However, damage can still be sustained to the thoracic spine from accidents or diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis or osteoporosis can contribute to degenerative discs and the aging process may play a role in narrowing the spinal canal, causing a “pinching” of the spinal cord. If a herniated disc does appear in T1 and C7 (cervical vertebrae), the result will be a C8 nerve root impingement, causing pain in the hands. This pain can also manifest as numbness or tingling in the hands, arms, and fingers.

Hand pain can be debilitating. The affected person may experience pain while trying to write, type, cook, or use the phone. Some may be unable to perform normal duties at work if the hand pain is great or prevents them from otherwise performing their necessary job duties. This hand pain can also be accompanied by numbness, tingling, and weakness.

Alleviating the hand pain and getting to the root of the problem is the primary focus of your physician. Working with each patient and his or her own unique set of circumstances, physical therapy or chiropractic care may be considered depending on the severity of the thoracic spine damage. At home with a spine health expert’s approval, some people may find relief with medication therapy for hand pain caused by thoracic spine damage.

At-a-Glance: Hand 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 Hand 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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