Thoracic (Mid Back) Pain Hand Weakness

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Hand Weakness as a Symptom of Thoracic Spine Damage

Hand weakness accompanied by thoracic pain is a symptom of a larger issue. The thoracic spine consists of twelve vertebrae (T1-T12) making up the upper and middle back. If the thoracic spine is damaged, symptoms may display in the extremities and can include hand weakness, numbness and/or tingling in the arms and fingers.

Thoracic Pain Symptoms –Hand Weakness

Upper-mid back pain originates from the thoracic area of the spine. Beginning at the bottom of the cervical spine and ending five inches below the shoulder blades, problems in this area of the spine can cause severe pain that can result in other symptoms – including weakness in the hand on the affected side.

Understanding Hand Weakness as a Symptom of Thoracic Spine Damage

The thoracic spine consists of twelve vertebrae and the ribcage. Its function is to provide stability to the core and to protect the chest organs. The discs in between the thoracic vertebrae are thinner, less flexible, so herniated or bulging discs are rare in this part of the spine.  However, the T11 and T12 vertebrae that protect kidneys are less stable due to not being attached to the sternum. In addition to its vertebrae, the thoracic spine is also comprised of muscles, joints, connective tissue, and nerves. If you are experiencing pain in the thoracic spine that seems to radiate to the hand and cause weakness, seek the care of a spine health professional right away. The upper-mid-back pain and hand weakness are the symptoms likely being caused by a problem with the spine.

When thoracic pain is present and depending on the condition that is causing it, other parts of the body may be affected including the arms, hands and fingers. Weakness in the hands refers to a loss of strength and an inability to contract the muscles voluntarily. Depending on the thoracic damage, some people may not experience hand weakness for weeks, then have a sudden onset of symptoms. Although rarely symptomatic, if a herniated disc is present in the T1 and C7 (the bottom vertebrae in the cervical spine) areas, it may create a C8 nerve root impingement. This can cause hand weakness combined with pain and tingling in the arm and down to the little finger of the hand on the side of the body that is affected.

Hand weakness can seriously affect the quality of life for many patients. The inability to perform day-to-day tasks due to weakness and thoracic pain can sometimes become so debilitating that it can also lead to anxiety and depression in those who are suffering. It is important to speak to a spine health professional about these symptoms right away. Often, there is a conservative course of treatment that can help alleviate the hand weakness caused by thoracic spine damage and is designed to get the patient back to living a healthy, pain-free life in as little time as possible.

At-a-Glance: Hand Weakness as a Symptom of Thoracic Spine Damage

  • Onset of hand weakness as a result of thoracic spine damage can be sudden
  • Hand weakness may also be accompanied by pain, numbness, or tingling in the arm
  • Always check with a physician if experiencing hand weakness and thoracic pain
  • Physical therapy may help with hand weakness by stretching and strengthening the muscles in the hand

Health Tips For Hand Weakness

  • Rest hands as much as possible by discontinuing activities that may aggravate the symptoms or that require a firm grip
  • Ice hands for 10 to 15 minutes at a time
  • If permitted by your physician, take NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to help with any accompanying pain
  • Consider removing rings or wrist jewelry in case of hand swelling

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