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The pain in my thoracic is absolutely horrible...suggestions?



  • I feel for all of you, who battle with thoracic problems and the pain associated with it.

    Last November, I suffered extensive back injuries from an 8 foot fall. 90% of my injuries were thoracic... fractures throughout T2 through T12, soft tissue damage and fusion of T11 and T12 with hardware. I was a hair away from being paralyzed as one of the broken bones almost penetrated my spinal cord.

    These past 6 months of healing, have been filled with horrific pain. All of my fractures have healed and the fusion was a success. My pain is MUCH better, but I still have bad days and weird pain days. I am under the care of my Neurologist, Pain Management, Physical Therapy and a family psychologist. Spine Health has been a huge part of my recovery and I will be forever grateful for this site!

    What I have learned about the thoracic area over the past 6 months is:

    "The nerves that are protected by the vertebrae in the thoracic spine control muscles, surface tissue, and internal organs. These nerves also control the arms from the elbow down, hands, fingers, the muscles of the middle back, the chest, and the ribcage. Nerves passing through the spinal canal of the thoracic spine also control crucial parts of the sympathetic nervous system including the heart, lungs, bronchial tubes, gallbladder, liver, stomach, small intestines, kidneys, pancreas, and kidneys."

    The pains and weird sensations I get, throw me for a loop sometimes. The tingling sensations in my legs and feet have for the most part ceased, but it took a while. Sometimes I will have flare-ups in these areas, when I swell or the barometric pressure is falling. My knees swell and ache a lot lately and I've noticed that our barometric pressure is falling, when my knees start feeling this way. I get headaches... some radiate from my neck to the back of my head, others are similar to sinus headaches. If I am SUPER swollen, I will get the tingling and numbing sensations from my elbows down to my fingertips.

    Weird and odd... are very good descriptions of these pains... lol!

    Because I had to wear a TLSO brace for 3 1/2 months, I lost a lot of my core muscle strength. I excercise, stretch and do aquatic therapy as often as possible. Walking is what really helps, but there are days I am so swollen... that I can only walk around the house. The past week, I have been battling with being really swollen and it really makes me frustrated. I have read that people can battle with being swollen for close to a year or better.

    Heating pads really help with the pain and swelling, so I use those pretty much on a daily basis. If you can get on the right combination of pain medication and muscle relaxers, those are what really help get me through the day. I also had to start taking an anti-depressant several weeks ago, as being in constant pain and in bed all day long... really started to play games with my thoughts and emotions. I would have crying spells and would constantly wonder if this is how I would be spending the rest of my life. The anti-depressant helps, as I can think more clearly and no longer have the crying spells. I am determined to do whatever I need to do, to get myself back... as much as I possibly can. I am very strong willed and I am not going to let this chronic pain get the best of me.

    I don't know if my reply has been much help, but if I can answer any specific questions... please let me know.

    Best wishes to each of you for finding relief, to get you through each day. Sometimes you have to experiment with what works best, but the major component I have found is getting on the right medication to control the pain as best as possible.


  • I have a nero surgeon I think is awsome cause he was the first one to belive me and not tell me i was a to young to hurt. I went for 2 yrs with no help at all no pills no doctor cause they all told me I was to young to hurt. This new one almost had me in tears when he told me the pain I explined to him I was worse then I made it sound. He put me on darvaset and darvon and zanaflex. Wich after a week stoped helping sadly. I just was told by him that my fusion failed at t8 to t9 and that my t2 to t12 are basicly about shot from all the stress thats been put on it and that my fusion wasn't needed and that the stress from standing and sitting is pushing my lumbar into my spinal cord which don't sound good. I knew i was in trouble when I told him the name of the surgeon that did the fusion and who did my second opinion and how he reacted when he saw the scar on my back and the lack of care I had after it. I didn't get therapy till 6 months after it was done and i was in a brace the whole time I was to the point I took the brace off I couldn't hold my self up. He was so pissed off he started to curse and told me if he finds this was not needed he was gonna do everything in his power to make sure that surgeon cant practice anymore. It really restores my faith that there are still good doctors who care and I sadly am paying for the rest of my life cause the first one used me as a project. That's just a small part of the insane story I have of all of this sadly. I hope everyone here finds someone to help them like I got lucky and did and help you deal with the pain cause not many people and doctors truly understand how much it affects everyday life.
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  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,584
    and the solutions are even tougher. There is surgery for thoracic patients.. That has been relatively new. A few years ago, thoracic surgery was basically the same thing as how a fisherman could gut a fish without a knife! I listened to the procedure on how they would perform thoracic surgery and a few seconds after they told me they would crack my breastplate, move aside a lung, I passed out!
    Still, Thoracic problems are becoming more and more common. When I had my first experience about 10 years ago, most doctors didnt really know that much about the T-discs. All I kept on hearing was that "You cant herniate a T-Disc, they are too rigid, and if you did, there wouldnt be any pain" I only wish I could find the person who wrote that!
    I spent almost 3 years in physical therapy, 2 years in aqua therapy, all sorts of medications, ER, IR, ESI, Trigger points, Acupuncture, etc. Nothing really addressed the major problem. In my situation, the major rhomboid deep muscle was really bad. Over the years, it became like a piece of wood, so there was always constant friction in my upper back and between my cervical area in middle back. Finally my Pain Management doctor sent me on for pure Thailand Deep Tissue Massage. The most painful treatments I ever had. I've been now doing this for two years and it has been the one treatment that has helped me. Because of this, I was able to finally get off of Oxycontin ER and now I am using Opana, Neurontin, Cymbalta and Zanaflex to manage it.

    I realize that not ever Thoracic problem is the same. The upper T-discs are so much different from the lower ones. But if you do experience upper back pain, burning, stabbing between the shoulder blades, I think it is worth talking this over with your doctor. It has changed my life, I no longer need to walk around like a zombie, I can function, I still have pain, but its not like it was before.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • When i was in therapy they streched the massive amout of scar tissue i have and it hurt and burned like hell but after about a hr of pain I could move more and felt better so there's a connection with the scar tissue and right now as we speak cause it's raining here my whole spine feels like its on fire and my neck my god the pain.
  • Man, thoracic pain does suck!

    I made it through cervical issues and successful c6-c7 ACDF last year to have thoracic pain this year. Not sure which was worse, neck pain hurt like hell, but mid-back pain does too. Plus thoracic wraps around your ribs and into your chest.

    I have been on decompression for just over two weeks now... Fells better, but really only the lower back pain really goes away. Been doing the chiropractic things for almost six-months now. Some days good, but the bad days...

    My neurosurgeon said my t6-t7 disk bulge is small, not really going into my spinal canal... Going back in three-months, wants me to try Celebrex.

    Anyone have anything else but any thoracic bulges?

    I also have some anterior wedging of t8, whatever that is and Schmorl's nodes on t6, t7, t8 and t9. I also have anterior osteophytes and modic type 1 changes from t5-6 thru t9-10.

    Not sure what all that means, but I know my mid-back hurts like hell most days!

    I was hurt at work, slipped and fell into a table... They say I am fine, reached my maximum treatment. Been on my own, that sucks. No matter what went on with my spine in my life, when you slam it into a table you really can screw more up in the process!

    My neurosurgeon does not believe in the injections, as he thinks they are bad for you, and will not correct the problem, only mask it and wastes your money.

    I am not sure what is next, but hopefully we all feel better sooner rather than later ;)
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  • I was re-reading your posts... EncounterZero. When did you have the fusion performed on T5 to T10? I don't know your whole story yet, but man... from what you have shared so far... my heart goes out to you. What are you doing now to control your pain?

    I do get the weird headaches as you described and the barometric falling days knock me out.

    You know... this new doctor sounds to be a blessing to you. I believe in miracles and you never know what the future may bring to you. I believe people are placed in our lives for a reason and whether it's through this new doctor you found or perhaps a person here on Spine-Health, I think you WILL find some relief in the future. Keep thinking positive and keep sharing your experience. Everyday, there are new discoveries we hear and learn about.

    Jersey... thoracic pain bites! LOL...big time!

    It amazes me sometimes, how the thoracic area affects so many different parts of the body. I have broken fingers and toes in the past and the pain pretty much stayed in those areas. Oh, my tailbone too. (Yes, I am an admitted klutz and my last klutzy incident was a lulu! The "normal" klutzy me truly does enjoy snow skiing, boogie boarding, dancing, ice skating, horseback riding, etc.) Any hoo... whether it's breaking thoracic bones, damaging thoracic muscles, have bulges, etc., to the thoracic area... holy cow, the pain scatters everywhere! Literally, from your head to your toes and from the front of your body to the back of your body! It is incredible.

    Whatever you find that brings relief, continue doing. You obviously have activity going on in the thoracic area and I hope it gets better. Glad to hear the decompression is helping. I hope it decides to start touching on the thoracic area next for you. :)

    Best wishes to everyone for a good rest of the weekend.

    Tammy >:D<

    P.S. I need to write a separate post to you Papa Ron for what you shared. I need to lay down for a bit, as it is time for my meds. Be back soon! :H
  • I had my fusion done 3yrs ago and its been a nightmare from that time on. Im on a few meds and i try various other things like heating pads,tens unit,cold and heat shocking any thing to take the edge off of it even a fraction. Ive been getting god awful headaches and noticed changes in my mind set and just started to notice my hands sometimes shake badly when I'm hurting. I think the one thing that binds us all here to this site is that most people have no clue about how bad the pain is unless they live with it and the fear of being in that pain for life or it getting worse and just from the short time I've been on here I've found great comfort and support in knowing others share my feelings and fears.If anyone would like to find out more of my history or just need someone to talk to I'll be more then happy to do what I can to help just send me a message on here and we can take care of the details then. Good luck to you all and thank you for helping me feel better about this situation.
  • I have had 5 discs herniated from t2-t8.....surgeon (of one opinion) has told me surgery would be "very" risky, as the herniations are consecutive, and would cause a pancake effect.

    I hear you all on the burning pain, and "funny" things that happen.
    I was told that at my age , and with some therapy, things wouldd get better. It's now 2 years and a bit in.....I've had physio...massage...accupuncture(which IMO provides the most and lengthy amt of relief, if you can find someone who knows what their doing).
    Godsend has been my TENS machine. I am fortunate that my work insurance plan payed for 90% of it.
    I cannot walk for any length of time or stand without it.

    Somedays, I seem to have more pain in extremities, or areas not directly surrounding the spine. I have this incredible stabbing pain in my right arm, that feels like someone is cutting into my bicep muscle. It's a 'positional' thing. Doesnt bother me during the day when I;m upright, but interupts sleep constantly, as feels like a constant tearing. Only thing that remotely stops that is actually sleeping on that shoulder (it must be shutting off that nerve).....I dont know if anyone else here suffers from rib pain, I can palpate it now to the point, that I think I'm doing my own trigger release.

    It's quite amazing how doctors are willing to say, "well you shouldnt really have thoracic damage/pain".....I actually thought I had some kind of tumor or something in my spine, the pain was that bad at the beginning, it makes me a 38 year old, drop down to the floor and cry like a baby.
    I can only equivilate it to "being in labour" which never stops and has no productive end!

    If you haven't tried a TENS Machine and can hook yourself up with one (in Canada we have to have a drs rx for it), it works quite well....to the point that I only had occasionally had to take T#3 instead of regularly. But now I seem to be suffering some kind of flare up.....it's usually from doing something that we were told "dont do", but you forget when you feel better.

    I find if you have to do any kind of "work" above your head for longer than 2 minutes...it's enough to trip off days of misery......my PT says you have to "plan" how you lift, sit, turn and lie when you have this kind of ailment....so my friends be careful.

    Thanks again to everyone who has shared their stories here....it is "relief" in a way just knowing that the pain isnt 'imaginary'/
  • Reading these posts this a.m. has been absolutely phenomenal for me. Thank you all so much. TTLC - your description of all the areas thoracic problems can affect - with the "backup" of all the other posts has convinced me to ask for a thoracic MRI. I wasn't going to because I just had cervical & lumbar MRIs done...what an expense. The thoracic pain/problems rival my cervical and lumbar. To adjust my posture for one is to aggravate either of the other. I truly believe that what they call "Fibromyalgia" is simply spinal cord irritation...especially thoracic (now that I've read your post, TTLC). I KNOW there are thoracic issues because if I stand or walk too long, I must bend over (almost 90 degrees) to continue upright because of the pain in the middle of my back. Bending relieves it to the point that I can carry on whatever task if I stay bent over. I also 'suffer' from severe thoracic episodes that go from the middle of my back to my tailbone....liquid pain - as tho' acid was poured into my spine.
    I'm going to call my doc TODAY and request a thoracic MRI over the phone. Hell, I've never complained about my thoracic because pain killers don't touch my cervical/lumbar pain...so what's the sense? I still wonder what the sense in paying for a thoracic MRI would be - because obviously you guys can't find pain relief either. I guess, I'm hoping an MRI would open the door to stronger pain meds? My last appt, I asked for Morphine for the Fibromyalgia...but I'm convinced now that it's THORACIC issues! Hell, I've googled thoracic tumors to find a reason for the HELL.
    Thank you all ...
  • I have unilateral headaches (15 months) - constant - but ebb/flow in intensity. (If the "volume" of these headaches ever increases, I'll find a gun.) For the last two weeks, I've had to whisper because the vibration of my voice is unbearable in my head. The pain is in my facial bones, ear, eyeball, nose - all the left side. I found my vibrating/heating torso pad the other day - when I used it for thoracic pain - the vibrations made BOTH SIDES of my head, ears, nose, face pain unbearable. I'm glad I know that now - because I feel one step closer to figuring out the source of my head pain - and 3 specialist can't figure it out. They just say, "It must be neuralgia of some kind."
    Thanks again.
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