Thoracic (Mid Back) Pain Spondylolisthesis

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Is Spondylolisthesis Causing Your Thoracic Back Pain?

Spondylolisthesis is the medical term for a vertebra that slips forward over the vertebra directly below it. When this happens, the slipped vertebra can pinch a nerve in the mid-back (thoracic) causing pain. There are patients who may have a slipped vertebra, but experience no pain.

Understanding How Spondylolisthesis Can Cause Thoracic Pain

While the mid-back or thoracic region of the spine is less prone to injury than the neck (cervical) and lower back (lumbar) regions, it can still fall prey to major back ailments like slipped vertebrae, degenerative disc disease, osteophytes, facet joint pain, bulging and herniated discs and more.

The mid-back is composed of 12 vertebrae located below the cervical area and above the lumbar region. The middle back vertebrae support our ribs which curve around connecting to the sternum, the strong bony structure in the middle of our chest. The thoracic spine’s curve is kyphotic which is Greek for ‘hump’. This “C”-shaped curve with the opening of the “C” in the front is a clever design that allows room for our lungs, heart and other essential organs in our rib cage. The vertebrae in this region are smaller than in the lumbar spine because they need to support less weight. The intervertebral spinal discs are also thinner than those in the lumbar region. The ribs are also attached to the spine by 24 facet joints (intercostal joints) which add significant stability to the vertebrae.

If you are an offensive lineman for a football team, sky-diver, gymnast or pursue physical activities one of your thoracic vertebrae can slip due to a traumatic event causing pain.  Spondylolisthesis can also be caused by a hereditary condition that is not detected until later in life.

As we age, our spinal discs begin to lose some of their water content and mid-back discs are not immune from this happening. As the discs dehydrate they become thinner, and lose the ability to serve as a shock absorbers that can absorb the stress of an impact. The healthy discs that provided mid-back stability can succumb to disc degeneration, which affect people over 50. As discs bulge and herniate, the spine becomes less stable and it becomes easier for a vertebra to shift forward over the vertebra below it. The resulting transformation of the spinal column can alter posture and impinge on nerve roots, causing chronic localized pain, plus numbness or tingling along your ribs.

There are several non-surgical solutions for a slipped vertebra such as chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy, yoga, acupuncture and medications. For some patients, epidural injections and minimally invasive surgery may prove to be the optimal strategy to reduce pain. Basic Spine provides the full spectrum of minimally invasive outpatient options with many surgeries taking less than an hour to perform, and with patients returning home on the same day.

Health Tips

  • Always eat breakfast
  • Eat your fruit and veg
  • Take time to shop each week
  • Sit down at the table to eat
  • Get adequate rest daily.

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