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Thoracic Disc SurgerY???

DegenerativeShellyDDegenerativeShelly Posts: 279
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Upper Back Pain, Thoracic
Hi everyone...Im just wondering if anyone has had any surgery on their thoracic discs as mine are all going or gone and I would like to know my options as my Specialist here is Australia says they are working on some kind of procedure?

Its the pain that is the worst as you would all know and Im full of plates and screws in my Lumbar and Cervical areas so whats some more metal..LOL


  • Mine was right at the top so they were able to get to it from the back. My understanding of thoracic is that it is rarely done because they need to go in from the front and it involves moving and working around the major organs. Not something to do lightly.

    THere is one person here who has been through this recently. Angela_Talley. Look for her posts in the upper back/thoracic forum.
  • Thank you so much for pointing me in the right direction..
    Take care
  • Hi Shelly,
    which level thoracic discs are you having problems with?
    I am hoping that I can be given exercises or something to protect my discs to avoid surgery. I am having symptoms in my thoracic spine, but not bad enough to cause me to give in to surgery!! :jawdrop:

    I hope to avoid it!
    My neck causes me worse problems. :O
  • Its all the disc levels worse luck with T4 to T10 being the worst
  • I just seen a neurosurgeon at Penn Hospitol in Philly and after 3 years of pain & hearing nothing they can do,surgery too dangerous & every other thing u can imagine...he is offering me hope with thoracic discetomy..new way too do it from the back not like they used to do from the front..I will try to get on later & explain more but keep checking for surgeon who will offer a newer way for thoracic surgery. T4-5 T6-7 are my worst
  • Thanks everyone for all your help...At least I know it can be done..

    Take care and keep well
  • Hi, Shelly! Hope you are doing well. I also have multiple herniations of my thoracic spine with pain radiating around my chest, so I know how you feel. Also like you, I've had multiple-level cervical fusion surgery and will undergo multi-level lumbar surgery soon.

    Taken in and of itself, thoracic spine surgery poses many difficulties. Depending on the direction of the herniation, surgeons can clean away the avulsed (protruding) portion of the disc from the back side. Difficulties arise when the disc protrusion has calcified (hardened), or when there are multiple herniations. or when the disc bulges from the front. That last one calls for the old anterior (front) approach where a lung is deflated and inner structures are moved aside to reveal the spine. (This portion of the procedure is performed by a general surgeon.)

    You have, and I will soon have, existing fusion surgery at both the cervical and lumbar levels. The number of surgeons who would agree to perform yet another fusion surgery on the remaining spinal segment is, I'm pretty sure, very small. Nobody wants to create a totally fused spine -- least of all me! But what to do about the pain?

    You might want to explore the use of a neuromuscular stimulator. They are small, user friendly, and can "tune out" pain throughout the spine without the complications that are inherent in fusing another level of the spine. The thoracic spine is the most mobile of the segments, and it may be deemed in your best interest to preserve that mobility as long as possible.

    As for me, I have too many herniations both front and back, along with calcification of the disc material, that make me a bad candidate for thoracic surgery. My problem also includes mild scoliosis as well as canal stenosis at two levels. I have a lot of pain throughout the thoracic level -- but I have a lot of pain at the cervical level, and the lumbar level. I could scream (and sometimes I do, in private), but my surgeon and I are thinkng a spinal cord stimulator for cervical/thoracic pain as well as lumbar surgery is my best bet.

    Spinal surgery aims to fix anatomical problems -- what they can see -- and our misfortune is that pain can't be seen. Removing the bone spur, or the disc material, or whatever is pressing on the spine itself or on the spinal nerves makes the surgery a "success" even if you still have pain immediately afterwards. But it can take a long while for badly damaged nerves to regenerate, and sometimes that doesn't happen at all in the very worst cases.

    Best advice of all -- be your own best advocate! Research research research, then get a second opinion, or even a third if it comes to that. You want to know how many thoracic procedures the surgeon has done. Were they as complicated as yours? What were the outcomes? What approach is s/he recommending, and is it considered new or experimental? Some people opt to be included in testing of new surgical devices, but you don't want that to be a surprise.

    Good luck to you, and I'll be rootin' for you!
  • I can understand that I just found out I have T/7 thru T-11 all herniated,I am being sent to our local Spine Clinic and was told I am now cadidate for surgery..My Doctors Nurse called me and said this is bad,so now I am waiting on my first appointment to find out the full extent of damage from a car accident 5 months ago,We just thought it was a herniated disc at L-4/L-5,turns out its not,I have been trying to research on the Thoratic but keep finding that Thoratic injury is not as common as the Lumbar and the Cervical...I just know that the pain is horrible,I have never experinced anything like this,I would rather got thru childbirth,Having my endrometriosis flair up then go thru this pain everyday,there is no relief just chronic pain!!!
    Good luck keep me updated as I am just starting on this....

  • So sorry to hear about your thoracic problems caused through a car accident.

    There are a few people on here who have had thoracic surgery. It is a more complicated surgery than lumbar or cervical because of the organs in that area (lungs and heart) and also the ribs attatching to the vertebrae.
    They are developing new ways that are not so invasive now though.

    I don't know how I managed to produce herniated discs in my thoracic spine, as I haven't been in a major trauma. I am hoping to not need surgery, but I am getting increasing symptoms. I hope that they will settle down and fade away once I am fully over my Lumbar fusion. My physio and I are going to work on strengthening that part of my spine and my neck too. :-)

    Do keep asking questions. I found with my lumbar problems, that having knowledge about my condition and the surgery to solve it, really reduced my fears.

  • I had the surgery in Feb.. Never had thoracic pain until last year in Oct and all of a sudden it just started hurting one day and it was bad.. Well long story short seeing as I had just had my lumbar fusion 6 months before I went back to my spinal surgeon and we tried some spinal injections with no relief and I finally just broke down crying in his office one day and told him that he had to do the surgery.. I was to young to be stuck on my couch unable to pick up my little girl, cook dinner, or even go play outside with my kids.. I just was not willing to live life that way.. And when I told him I had had to leave my little girl in the hospital in an oxygen tent with family to make that appt so he could understand how bad the pain was (I came all the way from New Orleans to Houston to see him so it wasn't like I was able to just reschedule) and that's when he knew that I wasn't playing, something was really wrong and I had a disogram 2 weeks later and surgery a week after that.. They cut me from my right shoulder blade and curved around to my side almost to right under my breast.. Collasped my lung.. I had a chest tube for 8 days.. was in the hospital for 9.. Wore a brace for 2 months.. The spinal pain that I had that would sometimes get so bad it would hurt to breathe literally was gone when I woke up.. Before my surgery sometimes it felt like when I would breath my lung would hit my spine when they would expand and it would hurt so bad it would take my breath away.. So as far as that goes I would do the surgery again in a heartbeat.. BUT I am still dealing with problems..my nerves have gone crazy and hurt and make my breast and side burn often and badly.. I have done more spinal injections then I can remember, burned the nerve roots, scar injections (which was the lastest thing and is the only thing to ever give me ANY good results), accupuncture (NOT RECOMMENDED), and lots of other things.. I still do not regret my surgery.. I needed it.. And the pain I have know is nothing compared to the pain I had before.. Seeing the pain management doc again Monday and we are going to be having a very long talk about what's next or it my be time to find someone else.. I love her to death but maybe different dr.'s have different treatments...
  • Thanks for your thoughts everyone..Ive trialled 2 SCS's and posted about their effective if you want to know anything else please feel free to PM me.
  • Hi Angela,
    So good to hear the latest since your thoracic surgery. I've been out of touch lately....so many worker's comp. appointments/hearings/exams....and I have to drive 5 hours to get to them. I'm depressed and pain is getting worse. I see you have sent me a PM and I'm trying to access it. So far, no luck, but I'll keep trying. I'll also PM you with my email address just in case. Sorry to hear you're having some residual pain from the scar tissue.... but like you said, it's better than the pain you had before! I'm kind of stuck in regards to any surgery. If worker's comp denies my appeal, then my private insurance may still refuse to cover surgery since they would still blame the work injury. I have an attorney now, but the wheels of "justice" move very slowly. I have my FOURTH IME in 2 weeks and this time it's a panel of doctors. Humiliating and useless as far as I'm concerned. But, I have to jump through their hoops. Then, the hearing to decide to accept the disc diagnosis to my claim isn't until late December! So at best, I may be able to get the surgery around the first of the year. I doubt things will go that easily. I anticipate yet another appeal and more waiting. Gosh, anyone else have problems with worker's comp? It's so humiliating!! I just want my back fixed! Oh, I'm sorry, I'm really griping! I feel so defeated...and having chronic pain doesn't help. I'm paying to get a massage next week, just to help me relax. I was considering accupuncture, but I see you don't recommend that. Why? I'm curious. Never tried it myself, so I'm interested in your opinion. Especially since we have similar thoracic issues (T67 annular tear). OK, later and let's all keep the faith!!
  • I am also wondering why you don't recommend acupuncture. That was something that I was considering trying to see if I could get any relief for my neck and thoracic issues.

    Can you share your experience of it please?

    Not wanting to take over your post. :H
    I hope that you are starting to feel a bit better now.
    Take care,
  • The reason I am hating acupuncture is because it is painful... The dr is so sweet and she could only get 2 needles into my thoracic spine and I had to make her stop.. The first needle was like have a bunch of bricks dropped on your spine.. The pressure was so intence and then the 2nd neddle only made it worse.. Then you have to lay there for 30 mins.. That just isn't my idea of fun or relaxing.. And now I am having pain on the left side of my spine and I have NEVER had that before.. That happened when the first needle went in.. The pressure spread to the right and the left so it hadn't helped me any.. So today I had to have my 1st set of spinal injections on the left side of my spine and I know what caused it.. The acupuncture.... I just personalily sucks.!.!.!.!
  • i was also staing on acupuncture. it was paintful because i hate to lay on my stomach...then my whole spine hurt,esspecialy lumbar part...i go 10 time to this but found no relief at all.....
  • Just to say. I would avoid it like the plague! I had terrible pain and then keeled over. It was awful and resulted in more pain that took 3 months to subside.

    I have Thoraxic pain but not as badly a you guys and have had several injections into the muscle which helped for a while.
  • BluesMannBBluesMann Posts: 3
    edited 09/19/2015 - 10:07 PM
    Good after noon everyone. I have had ACDf @ C5,6,7 and andoscopic laminectomy at L3,4, ,5.
    Good news is they were successful in resorting function to left arm and leg and provided significant relief of the pain from those locations. Now we are looking at the thoracic spine, which was and continues to be biggest source of pain. Herniation said at t3/4, t6/7, and arthritis and bone spurs from t9 to t 12. Tremendous pain from spine wrapping round ribs to left then around front eventually, right side follows suit. First nerve root block Last Thursday , pain even made worse initially. My neurosurgeon is trying everything short of another surgery first, but I am having a hard time trying to find detailed information on the various types of thoracic procedures that are performed. I see tremendous volume of information on the cervical and lumbar areas. Can anyone point me to some reliable resources on site or elsewhere?

    Thank you.

    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!
    ~ spine-health moderator, savage
    Gary Mann
  • FareedFFareed Abilene , Texas Posts: 61
    is there any update plz? im thinking about surgery T5 and T6 
  • Please let me know who you saw for surgery. I am suffering without answers. Fused C1-T2 and T10 to the sacrum and now have herniations at t2-3 and t10. Need a surgeon who understands the thoracic spine.

  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    This is an old discussion created by a member no longer on the forum so I am closing it.

    You can search for articles on this subject or I suggest you create a new discussion

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
This discussion has been closed.
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