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Symptoms of Thoracic Spine Problems

By Denise Stern ; Updated August 14, 2017

Thoracic spine problems can be caused by a variety of factors, including injury, a musculoskeletal condition or heredity. The thoracic area of the spine, in layman's terms, is the upper back area found between the large bump at the base of the neck to about 5 inches below the base of the shoulder blades or scapula. Understanding the symptoms of spine problems can help your doctor determine a potential diagnosis and treatment that improves motion, range of motion and quality of life. Spinal problems may be caused by bone or nerve issues, which will need to be evaluated by a physician prior to treatment determination.

Pain

Pain is an indicator that something is wrong. Pain caused by limited or forward bending or side-to-side movements are not normal and should be assessed by your physician to determine a cause. Pain may be caused by a mild or traumatic injury, or may be a sign of a slipped disc, bone degeneration or nerve compression, among other possibilities.

Numbness

Numbness or tingling in any part of the body indicates that a nerve is compressed or compromised somewhere in the spine. The spinal cord, protected by the spinal column contains thousands of nerves that extend to all parts of the body. Problems in the thoracic area of the spine may result in tingling, numbness or pain in the extremities and cause difficulty urinating, evacuating, walking or holding onto objects.

Movement

Thoracic spine conditions affecting bones or nerves, or both, often cause stiffness and difficulty moving. Limited movement in all directions or severe morning stiffness are common indications that something is affecting the mobility and function of the back. In some cases, muscle spasms may occur, which may or may not be accompanied by tingling, numbness or pain. In cases of whiplash, severe motion or movement limitations often occur due to tearing or ligaments in the thoracic area of the spine.

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