If you’ve clicked here on our Bonati Blog, you probably know that we are an ambulatory spinal surgery center, treating guests with conditions of the spine. The Bonati Spine Procedures can treat conditions in all areas of the spine. The three spinal sections include the: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar.

We thought we’d take an opportunity to break down each area of the spine, explain its anatomy, and describe the symptoms of conditions that can happen in each particular area. We’ve already posted about the cervical spine. You can find the link to that blog post here. So now let’s discuss the thoracic spine.

Some information in this blog is excerpted from a Spine-Health article. Find their reference below.

Thoracic Spine Anatomy

The thoracic spine is made of up 12 vertebrea, T1 through T12. It is the longest region of the spine, and by some measures it is also the most complex. Connecting with the cervical spine above and the lumbar spine below, the thoracic spine runs from the base of the neck down to the abdomen. It is the only spinal region attached to the rib cage.

The design of the thoracic spine is meant to protect our heart, lungs, and other vital organs. It’s very stable and not meant to move much. The discs in the thoracic spine are smaller and better protected than in the low back and neck.

As the spinal canal is narrowest in this area, one of the main jobs of the thoracic spine is to protect the spine cord. The spinal cord is at a greater risk for damage if a thoracic vertebra is injured.

Thoracic Spine Conditions

A number of conditions can occur in the thoracic spine. They can develop as a result of trauma (including accidental injuries from car collisions, falls, or sports injuries) or natural degeneration  (like degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis).

Additionally, one of the most common conditions of the thoracic spine is a herniated disc.

Symptoms includes pain, weakness, tingling, and numbness, and can often be the same in each level. However, the location of the symptoms can determine the affected thoracic level. We’ve broken down WHERE one would feel these symptoms at each level.

T1 and T2 – The top of the chest as well as into the center of the arm

T3, T4, and T5 – The chest wall, or area of the breast.  (These levels aid in breathing.)

T6, T7, and T8 – The lower chest and down into the abdomen

T9, T10, T11, and T12 – The abdomen, near your belly button, and into the back

Many patients with issues of the thoracic spine have stated they have what felt more like chest pains, and/or they believed they were having a heart attack.

Treatment Options For Thoracic Spine Conditions

The upper half of the thoracic spine is much less mobile than the lower section, making disc herniations in the upper thoracic spine rare. About 75% of thoracic disc herniations occur in the lower thoracic spine from T8 to T12, with the majority affecting T11 and T12. You can read about our patented thoracic spine procedures here. If you too are looking for relief from a thoracic spine condition, allow the Bonati Spine Institute surgeons to provide a complimentary review your case to determine if you are a candidate for the patented Bonati Spine Procedures. Simply call 844-663-0310 or complete our contact form here.


Read the full Spine-Health article here:

Mark Yezak, DC, April 3, 2018, https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/spine-anatomy/thoracic-spine-anatomy-and-upper-back-pain