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Thoracic pain

jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic
I am just curious and have no issues with my thoracic spine but does a herniated disc in the thoracic area feel the same as cervical and lumbar? What symptoms does it cause. I have a co-worker that thinks she has herniated a thoracic disk but she does not have insurance through our employer so she cant get an MRI.
Any info would be great .
Thanks, Susan


  • I have been Diagnosed w/a Thoracic herniation at T2-T3 level. The pain for me and it could be different for others is in my shoulder blades, the pain wraps around to my chest. I have also been told that the herniation has caused costrocroditas in my ribs.. This could be different for everybody depending on the level of the herniation. Sitting for long periods of time and standing in one place for long periods of time aggreviates the situation.
  • There's no way to tell from pain alone if it's a herniation. Only MRI or other diagnostics can tell. Often, herniated discs are not-symptomatic even, causing no pain.
  • i have the same type of pain that you discribe regarding the shoulder blades, wrapping pain to the chest - but have had an 2 mri of thoracic - both stating non remarkable. I would have bet the house that they would find something there...

    from time to time i will look here in the thoracic pain boards - and am amazed at how much I have in common with all of you - but when an mri says nothing - what is there to do.

    My docs believe this is from muscles - not even from the herniation at c56...who knows

  • I have at an MRI on my upper throcic, they told me my herniation is mild. Somedays, it seems that the pain is worse than others, but it doesn't feel mild to me.. I am having a cortizone shot on Monday in hopes that the pain will improve.
  • Good luck with the shot. I hope it helps you.
  • I have a hernation at c7/T1. The neurosurgeon and neurologist have been telling me that the herniation means nothing because my pain isn't down my arm. I get pain across my collar bone and shoulder blade area. Also top of shoulder and one side of my head.

    I am very excited to hear that you have similar pains and injury. I am convinced that doctors really don't know everything and if it isn't text book they won't believe you.

    I am going for trigger point injections on Monday afternoon. Hopefully this will relax the muscle enough to let the rest of the problems show through. It seems strange to wish for more pain, but maybe then they will believe me.

    Good Luck Monday. I'll be thinking of you when I'm at the doctor. Let me know how your's goes.

  • I had a fusion in June this year for C5/6 where the herniation and bone spurs were making my right arm just ache and tingle. Then, two months later, I had another fusion for C4/5. My left arm was aching so bad I wanted to chop it off. My NS said it was a new herniation. Anyway, now a month postop and still am having pain in shoulder blades and upper back. I told my surgeon that it was across my collar bones, shoulders and blades. He says...it's just muscular. Same story you have heard. My MRI said my C6/7 is severely degenerated and the right nerve root is compressed mildly on the right side. My C7/T1 has a midline bulge. My PT says I'm screwed..that she can't work on the bulge for the C6/7 getting worse. She thinks all of my pain is now from the C6/7. but mine does wrap around my under arms sometimes and I get pain on breathing deep. When sitting for awhile, I get those catclaws feeling in my upper back (spasms?) and I just feel like I'm about to give out.

    I want my NS to do an MRI of my whole spine. Do they ever do that? I've never had my T's checked at all and I think they are in trouble too. At this point, I feel that my spine is made of crackers or something.

    I hope your coworker can find a way to see someone. I've always went to the neurosurgeons, but thinking about trying an ortho surgeon next. Seems the neuros aren't that worried about structure and outcome, just relieving the nerves and only want to do something out the easy fixes. My first MRI was ordered up by my regular GP. He was an internal meds specialist and was in a group that practiced in the building attached to a hospital. That way she can get the MRI without having to get referrals and go thru some red tape. Also, chiropractors can order MRIs, but they also want to do their own xrays and set up a treatment plan. Sometimes I wish we could doctor ourselves. It might work out better since we are the ones concerned about our bodies more than these docs...
  • I had a cervical mri then a thoracic mri and then another focusing on the area where they meet. I don't think they do a complete mri at one time for billing reasons.

    Many doctors are afraid to order MRIs and other expensive tests because the insurance companies are watching them. I had an IME (independant medical exam) for my no-fault insurance and the doctor wrote a page and a half about how the mris were ordered too soon even though he admitted that they showed damage. Go figure... Guess a doctor can't use his experience to decide when you need a test. Instead he has to go by a guideline that says to wait so many weeks for a test.

    I work for a managed care insurance network and I know that we review doctor performance and sometimes cut providers based on what they do. IF a doctor is worried about keeping a certain insurance he will be very careful about what he orders.

  • I am a singele mom 42- with 3 kids and a psycho ex husband. I am recovering from a 5 level fusion of my lumbar spine-6 mos post op. I still cant walk well and need my powered chair. The pain in my legs is better except if I walk, but the pain in my back in horrible still. I spend most of my day in bed-PT didnt work for me as I cant tolerate physical activity without my right leg getting painfully spastic. I am about to try aqua therapy.

    I also now suffer from pain in my back between my shoulder blades, and crushing pain across my rib cage-I am wondering if I now have thoracsic herniations.

    I know how difficult it is to be in so much pain and have to be there for your children.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    in the type of pain I have felt regarding the three major spinal levels:

    - Dull aching in the lower back, sometimes sharp pains where your kidneys would be
    - Strong aches in your butt area and running down your leg (sciatica)
    - Difficulty getting out of bed, out of a car or even out of a chair

    - Stabbing pain at the base of your neck
    - Headaches, start from behind your neck and then work up to the front of you head.
    - Arm/Hand Tingling, loss of strength in the arms
    - Dropping objects (kitchen ware, pens, etc)

    - Sharp stabbing and burning pain between your shoulder blades
    - Lack of energy
    - Difficulty in finding any comfortable position
    - Sleeping becomes something of the past

    Now among those 3 major areas there are multiple disc levels that can and will present different problems. (ie Left or Right Hand, which fingers, toes, Upper chest, stomach area, etc)
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I had my Cortizone injection on Monday, It went well it was done w/an X-Ray type machine to locate the correct spot. I was sore last night, but today I feel better than I have in 6mths. I am a bit stiff at the injection sight, but the pain in my chest is pretty much gone. I just hope that it helps for a long period of time, I do not want to have to depend on the Cortizone shots being that I am still young. Thanks for all the information and support..
  • Thoracic
    - Sharp stabbing and burning pain between your shoulder blades
    - Lack of energy
    - Difficulty in finding any comfortable position
    - Sleeping becomes something of the past

    I also have Thoracic problems, T11-12 to L1-2. I also suffer from the above plus have pain around my waist area that wraps around my back, burning pain in the same area and soreness.
    I can't wash dishes, sweep, raise my arms to dry my hair without it hurting really bad. It also has started to really give me problems when I do my walking that I have to do from my Fusion surgery on L-5,S-1 surgery back in July 09.
    When I went to the doctor for my first month check up, He told me that I would also have to have surgery on my Thoracic disk to stop the hurting that I have be having from them in my back. I will be seeing him again on December 1st.
    I have read a lot about this surgery and it scares me to death.
    There is not a lot here on SH from people to really get a feel about this kind of surgery.

    It would really help all of us that is thinking about this surgery, that if anyone here has had it, to please put on SH How it was done and their out come.

    Sorry my post is so long.

  • I came across this site looking for info that might help my problems. In return I hope I can help someone. I had some accidents in my life (diving, falling out of a tree) when I was younger and always had pain. It is getting worse (R/side head, neck, shoulder, chest- collarbone, arm, etc. misery) as I get older and I started to aggressively pursue some treatment. I came across the same issues as some have described here about if something isn't obvious or by the book there was nothing wrong. I had at least 3 neourosurgeons tell me there was nothing they could do for me. In the meantime an orthopedic doctor repaired my right shoulder and then referred me to a Pain Management doctor. After telling him my problems and that I had two separate rounds of PT, he told me that he would start with less aggressive treatments and continue to be more aggressive until we found out what was wrong. We went from nerve blocks to facet joint injections to selective nerve root blocks to finally a discogram. When I told the doctor I never heard of a discogram, he explained to me that an MRI doesn't show everything, such as cracks in a disc that could cause pain. Sure enough when I had 4 discs injected(C4-C7), there was a problem with 2 of them. The procdure is not comfortable, but if you are desperate like i am you will try anything.
    I hope this is helpful for someone.......JDE
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