Thoracic (Mid Back) Pain Microdiscectomy

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Microdiscectomy as a Thoracic Pain Treatment

When thoracic pain persists and conservative treatments such as medication and therapy fail, surgery may be required.  Most thoracic pain causes can be resolved using a minimally invasive surgical technique called microdiscectomy.  Our expert board certified neurosurgeons can walk you through the thoracic pain treatment that is right for you.

Thoracic Pain Treatments – Microdiscectomy

Herniated or bulging discs are rare in the thoracic spine but can occur due to arthritis, trauma, or aging and they can cause severe pain when a nerve is compressed. Microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure which allows for removal of only a portion of the damaged thoracic disc, thereby enlarging the spinal canal and alleviating the thoracic pain symptoms being caused by the underlying condition.

Is Microdiscectomy the Right Thoracic Pain Treatment for You?

The thoracic spine is built for stability. It houses the 12 vertebrae of the upper and middle back along with the rib cage. It is nestled securely in the middle of the spine between the cervical spine and the lumbar spine. The vertebral discs are thinner in the thoracic spine, so herniated and bulging discs are rare. However, the discs can begin to deteriorate due to degenerative disc disease, arthritis conditions or the process of aging. When this happens the disc may push into the spinal canal and put pressure on a nerve. This will cause pain in the back, and perhaps down the arm, and into the hands and fingers. If left untreated, this can become debilitating.

Patients generally try conventional treatments first to decrease thoracic inflammation and relieve mid-back pain. These include over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, epidural steroid injections, chiropractic care and physical therapy. However, not everyone is responsive to these treatments and some may require surgery for relief of the thoracic pain.

Microdiscectomy surgery refers to the procedure of removing only the part of the thoracic disc causing the nerve compression. This surgery is performed as a minimally invasive procedure. After anesthesia has been administered, an incision measuring only 3/4” is made in the back. The back muscles are gently moved so that the surgeon can view the spine. After removing a portion of the damaged thoracic disc and verifying the spinal canal is enlarged, the back muscles are replaced and the incision is closed.

Microdiscectomy as a minimally invasive surgery can be performed in an outpatient setting and the recovery time is much shorter than traditional open back surgery. Patients are given instructions for wound care and medication for any pain and swelling during the healing process. Quality of life will begin to improve for the patient as healing continues. The surgeon may advise the patient do physical therapy to strengthen the core and elongate the spine. Stability exercises will also be assigned to do at home a few times per day. A walking program may be suggested to keep circulation moving and to promote faster healing from thoracic pain after microdiscectomy surgery.

At a Glance: Minimally Invasive Microdiscectomy as a Thoracic Pain Treatment

  • Quicker Recovery – Since a minimally invasive procedure requires smaller incisions than conventional surgery (usually about the diameter of a dime), your body may heal much faster
  •  Shorter Hospital Stays – Minimally invasive procedures help get you out of the hospital and back to your life sooner than conventional surgery
  • Less Scarring – Most incisions are so small that it’s hard to even notice them after the incisions have healed
  • Less Pain – Because these procedures are less invasive than conventional surgery, there is typically less pain involved

Health Tips For Microdiscectomy

  • If microdiscectomy surgery has been recommended as a treatment for your thoracic pain, enroll in a smoking cessation program beforehand if you smoke as smoking can negatively impact surgical results and the procedure itself
  • Practice good posture at all times
  • Try stretching exercises to help elongate and stretch the muscles in the thoracic spine
  • Consider restorative yoga to help strengthen and relieve pressure on the thoracic spin

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