Thoracic stenosis is characterized by the condition of spinal stenosis in the thoracic, or middle, section of the back, roughly defined as the area where the ribs attach to the spine. If you suffer from thoracic stenosis, symptoms could originate anywhere from the base of your neck to your waist area, and from there the symptoms also can radiate to other areas of your body.
In basic terms, thoracic stenosis is a narrowing of your spinal canal. This narrowing is typically the normal result of degenerative changes that occur in your spine as you age. Over time, the protective cartilage in between the bones (or vertebrae) of your back can deteriorate, leaving you exposed to added stress and friction. Your body’s healing mechanisms respond to this bone-on-bone friction by encouraging the growth of extra bone, called bone spurs or osteophytes. If the growth of bone spurs narrows your spinal canal too much, it can create pressure on the nerves of the spinal cord and result in a host of symptoms.
Thoracic stenosis symptoms may include:
- Pain radiating around the rib cage
- Numbness, tingling, and strong pain that radiates from the back to the shoulders and arms
- Pain in one or more major internal organs
- Muscle spasms, weakness, or numbness in the back and legs
- Aching in the legs when walking
Like all cases of spinal stenosis or foraminal stenosis, your physician may recommend several treatments to ease the pain of thoracic stenosis. These treatments can range from rest, massage, and acupuncture to exercise, medications, and injections.