All You Need to Know About Thoracic Conditions, Including How to Diagnose and Treat Them

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Thoracic Conditions

The thoracic spine is the flexible portion of your spinal cord that connects the cervical spine to the lumbar spine. However, at times, some conditions might exist that can affect the structure and function of the thoracic spine and result in pain, which can affect your quality of life.  Edison thoracic conditions are managed by a board-certified neurosurgeon who has specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of thoracic conditions.

What is the thoracic spine?

It is the longest part of your spine that connects the neck or cervical spine to the lower back or lumbar spine. The main function of the thoracic spine is to provide stability, anchor your ribcage, and also protect your backbone or spinal cord. Even though it is less flexible than your lumbar and cervical spine, thoracic conditions affect the structure and function of this portion of your spine, leading to lower back pain. And in case you are experiencing upper back pain, the care provider finds the underlying cause and provides the right care to relieve your symptoms.

What are thoracic conditions?

Generally, there are many thoracic conditions that can alter the function or structure of this part of your backbone. Some of the thoracic conditions that the doctors treat include:

·       Scheuermann’s kyphosis

Scheuermann’s kyphosis refers to an abnormal curvature of the thoracic spine that takes place during growth periods, especially during adolescence. With Scheuermann’s kyphosis, the upper back is defined as a hunchback or round-back posture. In most cases, this deformity usually develops slowly and rarely causes spinal nerve damage. However, this deformity reduces the space in your chest that affects the function of your heart and lungs.

·       Age-related kyphosis

It is a type of kyphosis that results from degenerative changes in the thoracic spine, mainly from osteoporosis that causes round-back posture.

·       Compression fractures

Compression fractures refer to a type of vertebrae fracture where the bone crumbles or collapses hence affecting vertebral height.

·       Spinal tumors

Spinal tumors are abnormal growths or masses that develop in or around your spine.

How are thoracic conditions diagnosed?

An in-depth clinical examination is normally performed to help in the diagnosis of thoracic conditions. The care provider spends some time reviewing your symptoms, noting when they started together with your family and medical history. He also carries out a physical examination paying more attention to the function and structure of the spine and the source of your pain. Some diagnostic imaging tests like x-ray, MRI, or CT scan may be performed to rule out or confirm the diagnosis.

How are thoracic conditions treated?

The doctor creates your treatment plan depending on your diagnosis, medical history, the severity of symptoms, and general health.  An experienced neurosurgeon then takes a conservative approach to your care and recommends the use of non-surgical treatment options for your thoracic condition like anti-inflammatory or pain medication, physical therapy, and bracing. However, if these non-surgical treatment methods fail to improve your symptoms of a thoracic condition, the specialist may recommend surgery.

When you are diagnosed with Scheuermann’s kyphosis, the doctor carries out a complex spinal reconstruction to prevent the progression of the abnormality or correct spinal alignment. But for compressed fractures, vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty are performed, which are minimally invasive procedures that alleviate symptoms and restore vertebral height.

If you are interested in knowing more about various treatment options available for a thoracic condition, call or consult Jeff Pan, MD.