Thoracic Annular Tear

Thoracic Annular Tear | BEST

Annular tears in the thoracic region of the spine are far less common than tears in the lumbar or cervical spine. The thoracic region connects the cervical spine to the lumbar spine and it is the longest spinal region. It also has the most support, with over 12 thoracic vertebrae bound to the rib cage. Although it is less common, the thoracic spine is still at risk of age-related degeneration. This process occurs over time as the bones dry out and rub together, and it can lead to pain and discomfort through the back. 

Although a tear in the thoracic region is less likely, the effects are similar to one in the cervical and lumbar regions. Many times, annular tears may go unnoticed, but if it is a larger tear, it can lead to debilitating pain among other symptoms. 

If you have been diagnosed with an annular tear, or if you are interested in learning about preventative measures, allow this guide to educate you on proper spine health and tears in the thoracic region of the spine.

Causes

Although uncommon, a tear in the thoracic region of the spine can stem from a variety of sources. Oftentimes, this region may suffer from natural degeneration, causing the spinal discs to dry out and become brittle. This leads to bone-on-bone contact, resulting in back pain and discomfort. 

Here is a list of causes that could potentially cause an annular tear in the thoracic region of the spine:

  • Degeneration
  • Injuries
  • Poor posture
  • Heavy lifting

Preventative Measures

If you struggle with back pain but have not developed an annular tear, there are preventative measures you can take. Daily exercise and stretching can build muscle and increase flexibility, relieving pressure off the thoracic spine. 

Additionally, switching habits to achieve a healthy lifestyle can improve your spine health. These changes involve healthy eating, quitting smoking, avoiding prolonged sitting, and maintaining a healthy weight.

If you are already at risk for developing an annular tear, physical therapy programs can help you learn exercises to strengthen your back and learn more about spine health.

Conservative Treatment

Upon diagnosis, physicians will begin by recommending different conservative treatments. Most of the time, patients can feel relief through these methods and surgery is unnecessary. These treatments include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Medical massage
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Pain medications

If a patient has tried these conservative therapies and still experience debilitating pain, they may be a candidate for surgery. 

Surgery

There are several different types of neck and back surgery, and each one has its own set of criteria. While there are many benefits to choosing minimally invasive surgery instead of a more invasive operation, the right procedure for a patient will depend on a number of factors. 

Reach out to BEST Health System

At BEST Health System, our dedicated surgeons are highly skilled in minimally invasive surgical procedures. If you are interested in learning more about surgeries offered through BEST, contact our team and get started on your path to recovery. 

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