The herniated disc is a condition in which the outer fibers (annulus) of the intervertebral disc are damaged causing the soft inner material of the nucleus pulposus to rupture out of its space. A herniated disc, typical in the thoracic region, occurs when there is a tear in the outer lining of the disc (annulus fibrosus). The damage causes the inner jelly-like material (nucleus pulposus) to leak out and place pressure on the adjacent spinal nerve root. It is the most common cause of low back pain and pain that radiates down the leg (radiculopathy).
Signs and Symptoms
The most common signs and symptoms of thoracic disc herniations are back pain that radiates to buttocks and legs, numbness in the leg or foot, weakness in the leg or foot, and rarely loss of bowel and bladder control.
- Conservative Treatment
- Conservative treatment includes pain medications, physical therapy, and avoiding strenuous activity if the pain is severe.
- Epidural Steroid Injection (ESI): ESI is considered if the pain is intolerable even with medications and rest.
- Surgical Treatment
- Thoracic microdiscectomy is a surgical procedure done to remove a herniated part of the disk and any fragments that are putting pressure on the spinal nerve. This surgical procedure involves the use of a surgical microscope and microsurgical techniques to gain access to the lumbar spine. The lens magnifies and illuminates the area of operation. Only a small portion of the herniated disc that pinches on the nerve roots is removed.