Thoracic SupportThe thoracic spine gives support to the torso, chest and provides an attachment point for each of the rib bones, minus the two at the bottom. The vertebral bodies are rounded with bony arches that project from the back of each and form a hollow protective space for the spinal cord. Facet joints are paired at the back of each and allow for limited movement.
Intervertebral DiscsThere is a fibrous pad called an intervertebral disc that is held in place by the endplates between each level’s upper and lower vertebral bodies. Each disc acts like a spacer creating disc height/space between the upper and lower vertebrae. This space opens nerve passageways called a foramen or neural foramina at both sides. Nerve roots branch off the spinal cord and exit the canal through the neural foramina.
Soft Support Structures Limited Movement/sThe entire spinal column consists of:
Nerves RoleThe twelve pairs of nerve rootlets that branch off the cord through the neural foramen are to supply and generate sensation/feeling along with function/movement to the body. These nerves provide nutrients to the midback and chest area and relay signals between the brain and major organs, including:
- Small intestine
- Osteoporosis raises the chances of a thoracic fracture. A vertebral compression fracture can cause one or more bodies of bone to flatten or become wedge-shaped creating spinal cord/nerve compression. Sudden and severe back pain can be associated with vertebral compression fractures.
- Scoliosis is an abnormal side to side curvature of the spine and is well known to develop in the thoracic spine causing deformity.
- Abnormal kyphosis means the forward curvature has become extreme. The appearance of a kyphotic deformity can be seen as a hump.
Types of kyphosis:
- Congenital or appearing at birth
- Posture related
- Scheuermann’s disease
- Metastatic cancer where it travels from the chest, or lung causing spinal tumor/s that can develop and potentially lead to structural deterioration
- Thoracic disc herniations are not common because of the middle back’s strength and stability created by the ribcage.
Spine MaintenanceTalk with your doctor, chiropractor, spine specialist about stretches and exercises that will work for your specific situation to strengthen the core, and middle back musculature. This will help significantly with injury prevention during flexion, extension, and rotation.
- Pay attention to posture
- Learn to use proper body mechanics
- Quit smoking/vaping
- Healthy diet
- Learn about the risks for osteoporosis and talk with your doctor about a preventive bone maintenance plan.