Upper Back Pain Shouldn’t Slow You Down
Are you experiencing pain in your upper back? Does it radiate through your chest or belly? Does it intensify when you cough or sneeze? Any of these symptoms could indicate a thoracic herniated disc. The problem can also manifest as problems with balance or walking, numbness or tingling, or even problems with bladder or bowel issues.
Patients who experience pain with or without associated arm pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling may be helped by the thoracic procedure. Prior to this procedure, patients should have attempted more conservative therapies such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, pain medications and epidural steroid injection.
Your Thoracic Spine
The thoracic spine is the largest portion of your spine, consisting of twelve vertebrae. It acts to stabilize your core, helping the ribs protect your organs and allowing free, unencumbered upright motion.
Since it needs to be less flexible than the other potions of the spine, the discs between the vertebrae are thinner and the spinal opening is narrower. This can make it easier for the bulging matter of a herniated disk to press on or pinch the spine and associated nerves.
In the thoracic procedure, your physician will insert a small, hollow needle through the posterior (back) side of the lateral (side) spine directly into the disc tissue. A laser is then passed through the needle into the disc where it is fired intermittently to shrink bulging disc tissue, decompress the affected nerve, and seal any tears. Fluoroscopy, which is used to convert x-rays into video images, is used to watch and guide the progress of the procedure.
A particular advantage of this procedure is that it can examine and treat discs on multiple levels, so if the surgeon suspects or sees another problem, he or she can deal with it during the same procedure. When the procedure is complete, the puncture site can be covered with an adhesive bandage. The entire procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes.
Most patients are able to resume light activities the following day.