A disc can become herniated when the outer fibers (annulus) of the intervertebral disc are damaged. The material inside the disc, the nucleus pulposus, ruptures in this event and tears the spinal canal. When a thoracic disc is herniated it can be very serious and even cause paralysis. Herniated discs to the thoracic area are, luckily, not as common as damage to the lumbar spine (lower region).
At American Spine, we are equipped with the tools and staff to effectively and efficiently treat spine injuries. Our staff is educated in the anatomy of the spine, as well as which treatments will best improve a patient’s condition.
Herniated discs are not consistent in just older individuals, they can happen to anyone at any age. Usually, a herniated disc is common in young and middle-aged people and occurs in seniors because of degenerative changes. Discs can rupture for a number of reasons including immense pressure on a disc or a sudden force. If the force has enough strength behind it, (ie falling off a ladder and landing on your behind) a vertebrae can break or a disc can rupture. Heaving lifting can also cause a disc herniation. Using poor posture and not distributing your weight evenly can cause a huge amount of force and cause a ruptured disc.
The aging process of the spine can also be the reason for a herniated disc. As we get older, our bones weaken and we are unable to do things we once were able to do with ease. When the fibers in the disc weaken, the disc takes on too much pressure and can cause a rupture.
When a disc is herniated, the material breaches into the spinal canal causing pressure and irritation to the nerve roots. When this occurs, the nerves lose their functionality and cause pain, weakness, and/or numbness.
A thoracic disc herniation can cause total paralysis of the legs. Other symptoms may include:
- Traveling pain to the legs
- Numbness/tingling sensation in the legs
- Muscle weakness in one or both legs
- Increased reflexes to the legs leading to spasticity
Symptoms will occur depending on where the herniation occurs and which nerve(s) have been affected.
Depending on what the severity of the injury is, a doctor can choose a conservative treatment plan or surgery. Observation, rest, pain medications, and epidural steroid injections are some options for conservative treatments. Surgical treatment may require a laminotomy and discectomy or a microdiscectomy.
For a spinal evaluation from a physician at American Spine, call and schedule an appointment today. Don’t let time worsen your condition and get help today!
At American Spine, we are dedicated to treating chronic pain and spine conditions. Offering the latest in minimally invasive spine surgery and other effective treatment options, American Spine is the leading pain physician group of California. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call us at (951)-734-PAIN (7246)
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.