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Thoracic Disc Herniation

By Peter Johnson

The human body bears a spine with 33 vertebrae, all aligned to provide support for the body and at the same time, accommodates a passageway for the nerves and spinal cord.  On top of the spine is located the seven cervical vertebrae, and then followed by a twelve vertebrae in which 12 rib pairs originated.  Next to this come the five lumbar vertebrae, followed by five sacral bones or the pelvis and then four coccyx bones or the tailbone.


The thoracic, lumbar and cervical vertebrae are all divided by an intervertebral disc that serves as some cushion for each vertebra, offering some space for nerve roots to pass through the spinal canal.  Discs are comprised of cartilages that are located along the spine.  They can be considered as joints since motion is present.  The discs are made up of an outer covering called annulus fibrosus and inner soft substances called nucleus pulposus.  The nucleus pulposus is like a water-filled balloon that provides soft cushions on the disc.  Once a disc is herniated, it flattens adding pressure to the spinal cord.  And since the spaces in between the vertebrae are shorter, then the bones also add up to the pressure on the nerves.  This circumstance is called thoracic disc herniation.


Thoracic disc herniation is rare compared to other disc related condition such as lumbar disc and cervical disc herniations.  Like these other spinal discs, thoracic discs are in the same way vulnerable to injuries especially if the person portrays poor posture.  It is best to engage in exercises that can strengthen the upper part of the back, and improve proper posture to prevent thoracic disc herniation.


Thoracic disc herniation is indicated by chest pain, numbness, or tingling pain from upper back that goes around the chest area, upper back pain and leg weakness.  To thoroughly evaluate your condition, the attending doctor will examine your reflexes and movements to ensure of a thoracic disc herniation condition.  Series of medical tests like a magnetic resonance imaging or MRI, CT Scan or computed tomography and myelogram may be done to help facilitate the examination and observation.


An MRI will provide detailed illustrations of your spine through some magnetic rays and then interpreted by the computer.  On the other hand, the CT scan is like small x-ray beams that will scan through the spine, while a computer program will process the date being read to come up with a three dimensional image of the spine.  And the myelogram is just like some x-ray procedure conducted after a special dye is injected into your spinal column.  This process will show your disc condition and if there is any damaged to it.


Mostly, thoracic disc herniation cases are managed with some bed rest and pain relievers.  Surgery may also be recommended for more severe and serious cases.  Only medical professionals can tell what treatment will suit you best.  It is of vital importance to consult with a health care professional or your doctor before you decide on any relieving factors in dealing with the pains brought by thoracic disc herniation.

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