What is a thoracic disc?
Thoracic disc protrusion, also known as a thoracic disc herniation, occurs when the gelatinous material of the intervertebral discs leaks out of the disc. A thoracic protruding disc may cause chest pain, spread pain to other organs, or numbness.
In the spine itself, there may be abnormalities that have symptoms similar to those of a thoracic disc herniation, including fractures of the spine, infection, tumors, and metabolic abnormalities.
Common Symptoms of a Thoracic Disc Hernia
Low back pain may not be a symptom of a thoracic disc herniation. Symptoms of a thoracic disc herniation are pain in the nerve in that area. In the thoracic region of the spine, this pressure may cause complete paralysis of the legs. Symptoms of this complication include:
Pain that spreads from the upper body to the legs
Numbness or burning in one or both feet
Muscle weakness in one or both legs
Increased involuntary reactions in one or both legs that increase spasm in the legs
Which of these symptoms will occur depends on the nerve that is affected. Ultimately, these symptoms will help the doctor diagnose and treat the disease as soon as possible.
How can a thoracic disc herniation be diagnosed?
Detection of a protruding disc requires a history of the problem as well as physical tests.
The doctor may ask the patient the following questions:
Have you been hurt recently?
What is the source of pain?
Does any part of the body become numb?
Are you weak somewhere in the body?
Finally, the doctor will ask about the patient’s intestinal or urinary problems. The answer to this question is very important, because you have to make sure that the protruding disc does not affect the nerves that move towards the intestine or bladder. If this happens, ie the protruding disc has irritated the nerve fibers in the intestine or bladder, the patient should be operated on immediately to avoid irreversible consequences.
X-ray imaging can be used to accurately detect a protruding thoracic disc. Normal X-rays do not show a protruding disc, but they will give information about the wear and tear of the disc and the vertebrae.
The most common imaging performed today to detect a protruding disc is an MRI. This scan, as we all know, has no side effects or pain, and provides very accurate results.
What is the treatment of thoracic disc?
Not every patient with a thoracic disc herniation needs surgery, and the treatment of the complication depends entirely on the patient’s symptoms. Treatment also depends on the location of the symptoms and whether the symptoms improve or not. Surgery is recommended if symptoms do not improve during non-surgical treatments and the patient’s condition gradually worsens.
It is better to rest for a while and avoid strenuous activities. After a few days you can start your daily activities, have a leisurely walk in your schedule and increase the distance daily.
Depending on the patient’s pain, your doctor may prescribe painkillers. Medications such as ibuprofen and newer anti-inflammatory drugs will be effective in reducing pain. If these medications do not reduce the patient’s pain, your doctor will prescribe stronger painkillers. Medications should never be taken for a long time without consulting a doctor and arbitrarily.
Epidural steroid injection (ESI)
This method is used for patients who have very severe pain and its effect lasts for several years after the injection, and the purpose of the injection is to reduce the patient’s pain so that he can perform his daily activities.
Thoracic disc herniation surgery
Laminotomy and discectomy
The most common treatment for thoracic disc herniation with surgery is laminotomy and discectomy. The term laminectomy means “surgery through the lamina”, and the word discectomy means “disc removal”.
This surgery is done through a small incision at the site of the protruding disc. After making the incision, the muscles are pushed aside so that the vertebrae are fully visible. X-rays can also be helpful during surgery. After making a small incision between two vertebrae with a ruptured disc, the surgeon removes the nerve roots to see the vertebral disc more clearly. It then returns the protruding material from the disc into the disc and clears it of anything else that is putting pressure on the nerves.
This method is a minimally invasive technique and is performed under a microscope.
And the most important advantage over the previous method is that the cutting area is greatly reduced. There is also no need to remove the laminate; The patient’s recovery time after surgery is reduced and there is less risk for the patient during surgery.