An Overview of the Thoracic Spine: Anatomy 101 for the Chiropractic Patient

thoracic spine anatomy chiropracticOne of the most common reasons why people seek the care of a healthcare professional has to do with back pain. Because the back is such a large area, there are countless problems that could arise. When trying to diagnose a back injury or illness, the first step is to figure out where in the back the problem is located. There’s a chance this problem could have to do with the thoracic part of the spine. What is the thoracic spine and its anatomy? What types of issues could arise? There are several important points all patients should keep in mind.

What Is the Thoracic Spine?

The spine is broken up into multiple parts including the cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, and sacrum. The thoracic spine is located in the middle and upper areas of the back. It is the largest portion of the spine, involving 12 of the 24 spinal vertebrae. The thoracic part of the spine sits beneath the cervical spine and above the lumbar spine.

All the vertebrae in the thoracic spine join together with the ribs, protecting the chest cavity, thus the name. The thoracic vertebrae are separated by soft cushions called disks. These disks are designed to keep the thoracic vertebrae from rubbing against each other. The thoracic vertebrae also allow spinal nerves to exit the spinal cord before they travel to their final destinations.

What Types of Problems Could Arise in the Thoracic Area?

There are several problems that could arise in this part of the spine. A few common problems people experience include:

  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome: Chronic postural issues or muscular overuse could lead to a syndrome called myofascial pain syndrome. This is a condition that leads to pain involving the thoracic area of the back that usually gets worse with movement.
  • A Pinched Nerve: It is also possible for individuals to suffer pinched nerves as they leave the thoracic vertebrae. If this problem has developed, patients usually experience electrical, shock-like sensations that leave the spine and travel to other parts of the body.
  • A Thoracic Disc Herniation: It is also possible for individuals to herniate one of the discs in the thoracic area of the spine. This usually happens following acute, traumatic accidents.

Fortunately, a chiropractor can address all of these conditions.

How Can a Chiropractor Treat Problems with the Thoracic Spine?

If someone has an injury involving the thoracic spine, a chiropractor is going to work to diagnose the injury first. This usually involves a detailed history and physical exam. Then, after identifying the root cause, a chiropractor can use manual therapy known as chiropractic adjustments, corrective exercises, and even traction therapy to address the exact cause of the patient’s symptoms. Using manual therapy, it is possible for chiropractors to provide relief to patients while minimizing the risk of complications or side effects. Even though it could take multiple sessions, a chiropractor will not only treat the symptoms on the surface but also worked to prevent the problem from returning.

Rely on the Help of a Trained Chiropractor

Ultimately, there are countless issues that could arise in the thoracic area of the spine, as well as the rest of the back. Anyone who is having pain in the middle or upper area of the back could have an issue with a thoracic spine. In this situation, it is critical to call a chiropractor for assistance. A chiropractor knows how to identify specific problems that could involve the vertebrae of the thoracic area. Then, using targeted therapies, it is possible to eliminate the root cause of the problem, preventing symptoms from returning. So if you or a loved one are experiencing pain or symptoms in this area of the spine, make sure you give us a call. We’re here to help!

This article is copyrighted by Blogging Chiropractors for its Doctor of Chiropractic members and may not be copied or duplicated in any manner including printed or electronic media, regardless of whether for a fee or gratis without the prior written permission of Blogging Chiropractors.


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We would be happy to answer any questions you have about this article, general spinal health or your specific situation. To discuss your symptoms and concerns call (208) 656-8883.

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Rexburg, Idaho 83440

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Dr. Orchard is a unique Rexburg chiropractor who specializes in difficult cases that have not responded to other care. All treatment plans are highly individualized based on your specific history, needs and goals.

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We are located in Rexburg and serve the communities that reside in zip codes 83440, 83460, 83442, 83448, and 83445. However, we see patients from a large radius around Rexburg which include Brigham Young University, Rigby, Sugar City, and St. Anthony because of the unique, customized treatment options we offer.