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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
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  • 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
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  • 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...
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