The Causes & Treatments of Thoracic Spondylosis

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: July 18, 2017

Thoracic Spondylosis

Spondylosis is a blanket term that describes the gradual breakdown of the intervertebral discs in the spine. It’s very common as we age, as more than 80 percent of the population over the age of 40 show signs of spondylosis on X-ray images. Today we’re going to take a closer look at what happens when the condition develops in the thoracic area of your spine, and we share some treatment strategies.

Thoracic Spondylosis Causes and Symptoms

Spondylosis that develops in the middle section of your spinal canal is known as thoracic spinal spondylosis. Development of the condition in this area can lead to narrowing of the spinal canal in the upper and middle back and pain from spinal cord compression. Spondylosis development in the thoracic region is not as common as in the lumbar or cervical areas of your spine, but it can cause serious problems when it does.

The most common causes of thoracic spondylosis are normal wear and tear on the area over the decades, natural aging, and in some cases it is expedited by an acute injury. Symptoms that commonly develop include:

  • Shooting pain
  • Muscle weakness in the extremities
  • Numbness
  • Back stiffness
  • Inhibited gait or difficulty walking
  • Loss of coordination

In more serious cases, spondylosis of the thoracic spine can lead to the narrowing of the spinal canal – commonly referred to as spinal stenosis. This narrowing can lead to compression of the nerve roots and pain.

Diagnosing and Treating Thoracic Spondylosis

Oftentimes a diagnosis of thoracic spondylosis derives from a patient’s wish to get to the bottom of their spine pain. Because the spine specialist will be looking for the loss of disc height and vertebral spacing, a diagnosis typically involves the use of an X-ray, although CT scans or MRIs may also be used to rule out any other issues.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with thoracic spondylosis, your doctor will walk your through your treatment options. Thankfully, if you have a regular case of thoracic spondylosis, you can expect conservative treatment to yield positive results. Some of the more common treatment options for thoracic spondylosis include:

  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories
  • Heat/Ice
  • Physical therapy
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Exercise
  • Stretching
  • Cortisone injections
  • Aqua therapy

Your doctor will likely prescribe a few of the above treatment options to see what best helps to resolve symptoms. Although you can’t reverse the problems associated with thoracic spondylosis, a combination of the above techniques can help alleviate symptoms and prevent the condition from getting worse. Surgery won’t be suggested for thoracic spondylosis, but if the condition has led to herniated discs or tissue compression, a decompression operation may be necessary.

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