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Thoracic Problems

As many of you I struggle with bad aches and knife like pains in the upper back and weird neurological issues in legs. I have had back pain for years now and it seems like its getting worse. No known traumatic event so I'm unsure how it all happened...maybe the toll of bad posture for years.
Dr sent me in for a MRI of spine and here was some of the findings in thoracic spine:

There is straightening of the normal thoracic hyphosis. The marrow signal is normal. There are no compression fractures. The thoracic cord is intrinsically normal. There is no abnormal enhancement whithin the thoracic spine or thracic cord at any level.

At T6-7 there is a small superiorly migrated right-sided protrusion effacing the right ventral aspect of the thecal sac and mildly impinging upon the right ventral surface of the cord without central canal spinal stenosis or neural foraminal stenosis.

At T7-8 there is a moderate-sized right sided inferiorly migrated extruded disc measuring 4mm in AP dimension and extending inferiorly almost to the level of the T8-9 disc level effacing the right ventral aspect of the thecal sac and resulting in mild to moderate right-sided cord impingement and mild canal spinal stenosis without neural foraminal stenosis.

At T11-12 there is a small 3mm left-sided slightly superiorly migrated extruded discc and annular tear effacing the left ventral-lateral thecal sac without cord compression or central canal spinal stenosis or neural foraminal stenosis.

I consulted with one spine doctor and was told to take aleve and try to live with it, since I don't have bladder issues or paralysis they won't do surgery. He didn't even recommend physical therapy as he did not believe it would help in my situation....i felt hopeless leaving his office. I did see a chiropractor a few times but after three adjustments I felt as if things were being made worse. I have done about 8 weeks of physical therapy with very little if any effect positive or negative. NSAIDs barely help. I have a few questions that weigh on my mind:

- If this extruded disc herniated quite some time ago and calcified is this a situation that can be fixed or at least substantially improved by conservative treatments?
- would ES Injection help someone in my situation? i have sharp specific back pain\aching...no pain wrapping around rib cage
- is spinal cord impingement the same as compression?
- would the MRI have shown myelopathy or is a CT scan needed to show that?
- has anyone had some type of conservative treatment that has actually helped?

I feel rather hopeless and afraid as the doctor I saw gave me the impression that there wasn't anything that can be done and I basically am in a no-win bad luck situation with the T-spine.

Thanks for any advice...i feel lost :(


  • One other question....

    I am finding it very difficult to find a physio that actually knows what they are doing for tspine issues...has anyone had any luck finding a pt who deals with this horrible problem or even an online program specifically geared for tspine issues?

  • I saw my physio this evening and he has given me some exercises to do to try to increase how much I can twist.
    This is because I am 3 months post a 2 level ACDF and my head turning is not back to normal. I have been finding that twisting my back to compensate has been bringing on pain and spasms around my chest.

    I do have 3 herniated discs in my thoracic spine, so I have to be careful.
    I have also had a lumbar fusion. (My spine is a mess!)

    I will be doing these exercises and see how I get on. I will see my physio next week for a review.
    He is a spinal specialist and I have great confidence in him. He has seen my through my lumbar fusion recovery and while I was avoiding my neck fusion. Sadly, I am in the UK so not much use to you!
  • thanks for the input. the fact the disc is extruded has me pretty worried about the long term aspects of this. I will research more into the TMED option although so far nobody has told me "you need surgery" my next step is oral prednisone for 7 days and see how it goes. I'm praying that gets things going the right direction.

    jelly I am not sure what ACDF surgery is but it sounds like you have been having a rough time. I am assuming the surgery you reference was lumbar? are your discs in T-spine protruding, extruded, sequestered?

    anelsen you have a very informative blog and it has assisted me in asking my docs the right questions. how much % wise would you say your T-spine issues resolved? frustrating and scary are the two words I identify with right now.

    thanks again for any advice....I feel lost at sea with this injury.

  • An ACDF is an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion.
    I have also had a lumbar fusion.
    My thoracic discs are protruding, so not as serious. However they are slightly indenting my cord. I am coping with the pain from them at the moment. I have been offered epidural injections for the thoracic discs and bony spurs.

    I haven't heard of a TMED. I see it as the longer we can put off surgery, there is time for them to develop new ways to deal with thoracic problems. I hope to never need surgery at that level.

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