3 percent of individuals with progressive curvature may eventually experience severe problems that can include scoliosis and back pain, spinal problems, and nerve compression causing numbness, weakness, and leg pain.
Thoracic Spinal Stenosis
The spinal canal, located in the middle or thoracic spine, can narrow with age. Spinal stenosis is the medical term for this narrowing of the spinal canal. Spinal stenosis develops gradually and slowly reduces the space of the spinal cord and/or the nerve space in that area. Thoracic spinal stenosis is less common than other narrowing conditions. Thoracic spinal stenosis happens when the orifice through which nerve roots leave the spinal canal or the canal through which the spinal cord travels becomes restricted.
The spinal cord may be compressed or the nerve roots may get irritated once the spinal canal becomes congested. Any of the T1 to T12 vertebrae in the middle of the back may experience thoracic spinal stenosis. The center of the back is where the thoracic vertebrae are situated. Because the vertebrae attach to the ribs in this area, symptoms of thoracic spinal stenosis may include loss of movement and difficulty rotating the upper body. This is why it is very different from lumbar or lumbar spinal stenosis.
Who is at Risk for Thoracic Spinal Stenosis?
Older people are more likely to acquire thoracic spinal stenosis since it can come from normal aging. Other elements, though, are equally crucial. Because their spinal canal has been affected, those with thicker tissues, bone spurs, degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, bulging discs, and arthritic spurs are more prone to get thoracic spinal stenosis. Osteoarthritis is also a cause of this illness, which affects elderly individuals more frequently. Osteoarthritis develops when the cartilage that ordinarily cushions the ends of our bones wears away, allowing the bones to scrape against one another. In addition, the following factors may contribute to spinal stenosis:
Herniated discs are another name for protruding or bulging discs. Are frequently the consequence of aging-related wear and tear, a stressful experience, or an accident.
This condition involves the displacement of one or more vertebrae.
They could enlarge into the spinal canal, pressing the nerves.
Enlarged facet joints
The cartilage inside the facet joint may swell up due to degenerative changes in the joints between the vertebrae.
Spinal canal ligament irritation
This inflammation may result in restriction.
Are you Experiencing Signs of Thoracic Spinal Stenosis?
It might be difficult to identify your symptoms because many spinal disorders have overlapping ones. Therefore, if you are suffering from back pain, we recommend that you visit us. Numerous spinal problems have the potential to worsen and become more severe and ultimately cause disabilities. If spinal stenosis is not treated, it may eventually result in irreversible nerve damage. No matter what your health issue is, you don’t want to suffer unnecessarily; a fast diagnosis and treatment plan may get you well and offer you peace of mind.
Key Thoracic Spinal Stenosis Symptoms
Although thoracic spinal stenosis symptoms are widespread, not everyone will experience them in the same manner. One patient could only have one symptom, but another might be able to cross them all off the list.
- The most distinctive indications are as follows:
- Severe numbness in one or both feet or legs
- Tingling or numbness in the foot or legs
- Stiffness or weight in the legs
- Instability or trouble standing or moving around
Less frequent symptoms may include:
- Middle-back pain or discomfort, rib pain, or leg pain
- A sense of restriction in the chest or belly
- Pain that travels down one body side
- Bladder or bowel problems
It’s crucial to remember that losing control of one’s bladder or bowels is a very severe matter that calls for prompt attention and treatment. If a patient experiences this symptom, they should visit an emergency room as soon as possible.
Diagnosing Thoracic Spinal Stenosis
Searching for your symptoms on Google, assuming you know what’s wrong, and waiting it out won’t suffice when back pain strikes. While various spinal disorders and spinal stenosis share many symptoms, each has a different course of treatment. Patients will have the chance to talk about their pain and any additional symptoms they may be having at their initial session at the Scoliosis and Spine Institute. If you have had an MRI, we will review it together with your medical history.
Exams & Tests
Once the preliminary diagnosis is complete, the doctor will decide if imaging tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis of thoracic spinal stenosis and help identify the exact cause of the problem. The tests most commonly used to diagnose thoracic spinal stenosis include:
- X-rays: used to detect whether spinal instability and the presence of bone spurs
- MRI: aids in identifying any nerves that thoracic spinal stenosis has compressed
- EMG: Required if neurological damage is suspected to see stimulation or nerve damage
Treatment for Thoracic Spinal Stenosis Symptoms
The compression of the spinal cord or nerve roots in thoracic spinal stenosis frequently necessitates surgical intervention, in contrast to other forms of spinal disorders that frequently benefit from non-surgical therapy. In mild cases of thoracic myelopathy, which is compression of the central part of the spinal cord, a combination of physical therapy and medication may be used initially, followed by extensive follow-up to monitor the condition. Surgery is required, however, in situations that are more severe or if there is a progression of minor cases.
The Following Surgical Procedures can be Used to Treat Thoracic Spinal Stenosis:
Minimally invasive laminectomy
The most popular surgical treatment for treating spinal stenosis is minimally invasive laminectomy, a non-fusion operation that widens the spinal canal and relieves pressure on the nerves. A minimally invasive laminectomy involves making a small incision in the back and moving muscles laterally to access the affected area of the spine. The lamina, a component of the vertebral arch, is then pierced to relieve compression. With no sutures to remove and little muscle damage, we carry out this surgery endoscopically through a less than an inch-long incision. Following surgery, patients just require a BAND-AID. Patients should anticipate going home the same day because more than 95 percent of minimally invasive laminectomy treatments are done as outpatient procedures.
To connect the vertebrae with a bone graft or other materials, we frequently do thoracic spinal fusion surgeries at the Scoliosis and Spine Institute in combination with a laminectomy. The spine will become stronger and more stable as a result. When deciding whether a patient can undergo a minimally invasive operation or whether they require an open fusion procedure, we consider a number of variables. Spinal Fusions can be completed in some cases as an outpatient treatment with a one-inch incision and no need for sutures when it is carried out as a minimally invasive procedure.
Minimally invasive foraminotomy
In order to prevent compression of the nerves as they exit in the spinal canal, we can enlarge that area using special equipment. A minor incision less than an inch long is used during minimally invasive foraminotomy to remove a fragment of bone and soft tissue.
Prevention & Self-Care
It is impossible to avoid thoracic spinal stenosis. Therefore, making certain lifestyle adjustments and adopting healthy routines can help maintain a healthy spine and prevent these kinds of diseases. The following are some suggestions for preventive and self-care:
- Wearing sophisticated medical braces for spinal stenosis
- Yoga, swimming, and flexibility exercises
- Giving up smoking
- Being healthy in terms of weight
Up to 90% of spinal stenosis cases reported today are from aging-related degenerative changes. The bone spurs that might result from this degeneration, known as spondylosis, could possibly constrict the spinal canal. As mentioned, other potential causes of spinal stenosis include the development of synovial cysts, degeneration, herniation, or bulging of intervertebral discs, and the thickening of spinal canal ligaments (fluid-filled sacs in the joints). Although other issues including fractures, tumors, infections, systemic bone illnesses, or abnormalities that are present at birth might result in the spinal canal narrowing, the phrase “spinal stenosis” is often only used to refer to degenerative issues.
The Road to Recovery
The time following spine surgery is just as crucial to our patient’s general health and well-being as the procedure itself. At the Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute, we pledge to support patients every step of the way. From making the initial diagnosis to recovery, we will provide the very best of care. We offer ongoing pain management, muscle relaxants, bracing for support, metabolic supplements for maximum bone, nerve, and soft tissue healing, topical scar-healing drugs, and physical therapy as needed to aid in recovery. Our team of skilled medical assistants and physician assistants offers a high degree of assistance to support patients as they move through the recovery stage.
We’re here to help STOP THE PAIN
If you are an adult living with scoliosis or have a child with this condition and need a doctor who specializes in orthopedic surgery,
call the Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute at 214-556-0555 to make an appointment today.