Thoracic Disc Herniation

A set of 12 thoracic spinal bones present in the upper back portion form the thoracic spine. There is a disc in between 2 vertebrae (spinal bones) that works as a shock absorber. The annular rings (ring-like structure) are discs that are formed with annular fibrosis, which contains nucleus pulposus (a gelatinous substance).

Disc herniation is a condition when this nucleus comes out or tears the annular fibers. A disc herniation in the thoracic region produces pain in the upper or middle back region. This pain is radiating and causes numbness.

Disc herniation in the thoracic spine is very rare and usually causes pain in the back (midline).

Causes of thoracic disc herniation

  • Trauma or injury to the upper back which causing disc herniation
  • Degenerative disc disease can also
  • Aging with wear and tear
  • Repetitive stress on the disc
  • Falling from height and landing in a seated position
  • Bending activity also exerts pressure on the disc
  • Lifting weight in bending position
  • Weak muscle
  • Forceful and sudden twist of the back

Thoracic spine herniated disc symptoms

  • Pain in the upper-middle back
  • Radiating pain the dermatomal pattern
  • Thoracic spine pain (thoracic back) become more severe during sneezing or coughing
  • Pain may radiate in the chest and belly portion
  • You can also experience weakness in your legs, difficulty in walking and balancing
  • Numbness and tingling sensation in the legs


  • Your medical history and physical examination by your doctor
  • X-ray is suggested by your doctor to check the space between the spinal bones and to check if there is any spinal fracture or any other bone issue
  • MRI is more specific and helps in the evaluation of the severity of the damage
  • Myelogram may suggest to check the pressure on spine


  • Conservative:
    • Take rest and modify your activities that are causing pain
    • Medications prescription is done to manage pain and inflammation
    • Ice packs are also help in managing the pain
    • Physical therapy or exercises to strengthen the muscles of your back.
    • Gentle stretching and activities like walking are good to return back to normal activities after rest
  • Surgical
      If condition is severe and there is the severe weakness of paralysis in the lower limb, bowel bladder dysfunction

    • Costotransversectomy
Get Free Online Consultation