What is Thoracic Spondylosis?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 15 July 2019
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Thoracic spondylosis is a degenerative condition that affects a person’s spine. Also commonly referred to as disc degeneration, this condition is marked by a narrowed space between a person’s vertebral bones. As the space between the spinal vertebrae narrows, the affected person’s discs start to bulge out of place. This may occur in various parts of the spine, but the thoracic form of this disease affects the vertebrae in middle section of the back.

Unfortunately, thoracic spondylosis is accompanied by pain. As the space between the thoracic vertebrae narrows and the discs are herniated, the nerves in the area may be compressed. With this type of spondylosis, a person may experience pain in the mid and upper back region, chest, and upper abdomen. Sometimes patients even experience pain in their arms and legs or changes in sensation, such as numbness in some areas or a tingling feeling.

Aging is a primary cause of thoracic spondylosis, and most cases develop in people who are 40 years of age or older. As a person grows older, the discs of his spine become worn and aged as well. Changes in a person’s body start to make the discs more brittle and less flexible. The discs may tear, weaken, and even leak some of the gel at their centers. The stiffening discs may actually become smaller, protrude from their place between the vertebrae, and cause the joints and tissues in the area to be strained.


Sometimes spondylosis is accompanied by the formation of bone spurs, which are abnormal protrusions of bone. The spurs can make the patient’s condition worse, as they press on nerves and lead to pain and sensation loss. A person may have pain in one area and difficulty moving or feeling sensation in another. Often, bending over is met with stiffness and pain when a person has this condition.

A person with a mild case of thoracic spondylosis may treat the condition at home with rest and gentle exercises. Painkillers may be used as well. Sometimes doctors recommend physical therapy for patients dealing with this condition. In fact, some doctors even recommend swimming and other types of water therapy for thoracic spondylosis patients.

People with this condition may find at least some symptom relief from massage or chiropractic treatments. Some turn to alternative medicine techniques, such as acupuncture, instead. In serious cases, surgery may be the most effective option.


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Post 8

Has anyone one been diagnosed early in life with thoracic spondylosis? I am only 25 and have been having back pain since I was 15. I just found out last week ( after years of doctors ignoring me) that I do have thoracic spondylosis.

Also, what do you find the most helpful for the pain? I literally cannot stand for more than 10 minutes without it killing me, even sitting. Any advice would be great at this point, since I still have several days before I can see a pain specialist.

Post 7

After all the years of pain, finally a diagnosis, and now everything makes sense. I had relentless thoracic pain, especially when sitting, and almost no amount of pain and anti inflammation meds worked to relieve the pain. While I am not into alcohol, a shot of whiskey gives me maybe a half hour relief from pain.

It now makes sense also that two forms of pain relief I have experienced came from massage and chiropractic treatment. So now, I am faced with an uncertain future, as I have to find a way to be able to continue working by eliminating computer work as much as possible, and the possibility of surgery down the road when the pain gets completely intolerable, and I am almost at that point now.

Post 6

Excruciating pain was my constant companion for more than six years. After several years, I was referred to a pain specialist who prescribed morphine. When I started having urinary incontinence, I was referred to surgeon. Yes, I had tried massage, chiropractic and acupuncture.

I am three months post surgery and wonder why I had to wait so long. Yes I had surgical pain, but by the second week, my nerve pain was gone, as well as almost all the surgical pain.

I'm on my third week of PT trying strengthen my back and leg muscles which had deteriorated.

A couple of times a week, I take ibuprofen. That's it, nada, nothing else. No ultram, vicodin, percocet or morphine.

Do your research and choose a surgeon carefully. Then, if nothing else is helpful, go for it.

Post 5

I have been battling this for about 10 years. It took eight to be diagnosed. (I am now 45 years old). The pain can be excruciating, and I am on several medications that don't work very well.

I have had numerous injections and two rhizotomies which should last up to 18 months. The first one lasted six months, and the second lasted only two months. I have had several broken bones in the past and am no stranger to pain, but this is relentless.

I have prayed to die at night due to the pain and lack of sleep. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Post 4

I'm 25 and was recently diagnosed with this. I actually found out by searching my online health file (thanks kaiser permanente). The doctor didn't tell me; I had to find it myself.

Yes, it causes extreme pain, and the other night I could not move my legs. My partner had to move my legs apart and then pick up my upper torso in order for me to regain mobility in my legs. You heard me correctly: this ailment caused my legs to be temporarily paralyzed!

It is hard to admit but I tend to consider suicide because the pain is to much to handle.

Post 3

It can also occur in people younger than 40. Mine started in my 20s. It causes extreme pain, loss of sensation in limbs as nerves are compressed, etc.

Post 2

Actually, chiropractic treatment can involve stretching as well which would relieve the pressure and free trapped nerves. Chiropractors use heat and massage first to relax the patient which reduces any possibility of damage.

Also, x-rays or other scanning images are done to determine exactly what and where the problem is - a chiropractor isn't just blindly pushing bones. It's true that spine spondylosis of any sort may require surgery once the bones or disks have degenerated too much, but the least invasive procedure is certainly best to start with.

Post 1

It's difficult to believe chiropractic would be a safe thoracic spondylosis treatment since the vertebrae are already weak; it seems pressure on them might crack them! If done very carefully though, it sure would feel better to put everything, at least temporarily, back in place.

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