Thoracic Discs

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Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2011
Total Posts : 179
   Posted 10/23/2011 5:28 PM (GMT -6)   
Sorry I lurk more than I post.

Anyway I've got a million things wrong with me. lol However just wondering if anyone was dealing with a herniated thoracic disc?

My T11 -T12 is herniated and pressing on the thecal sac. Feels like someone is driving a jagged red hot poker into my back and twisting.

My PM will inject everything in my neck and lower back but won't touch this one. And the neurosurgeon has said surgery is not an option.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 2024
   Posted 10/23/2011 6:47 PM (GMT -6)   
HI Justanotherday, I wanted to welcome you to our chronic pain forum. You will enjoy the people here. Glad you joined. I don't know much about back problems but I know we both share in headache pain since we talked today on the Migraine/Headache forum. Many here have back issues so i am sure someone will be along soon to give you some advice.

Take care

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 235
   Posted 10/23/2011 7:43 PM (GMT -6)   
HI Just, Ijust had surgery for thoracic outlet syndrom,seems your problem is alot different but Iknow the pain your going thur ,as for myself it took more than 2yrs to get surgery and they tryed everything else before ,like injections and tons of tests.Finally the neurosurgeon removed the rib.Alot of the pain is gone ,mainly sore still from recovery from surgery ,infact its been almost 1month and I'm still on pain meds,I was told it could take up to 3months to recover and Ididn't belive it ,Ithought Icould heal faster ,not the case!Its possible your problem is a risky surgery ,as mine had a70%chance of working .Maybe ask your dr.why or if surgery can be done? Maybe another DR.might do it!Also if you have many other illnesses surgery may be too much for you!I wish Icould help more all Ican say is ask the dr more ? besides the injects a longacting pain med.Keep looking into options that could help your problem,take care From Michele

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2011
Total Posts : 179
   Posted 10/24/2011 5:46 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for the info Sore.

I was taking long acting meds, however I got sick of taking them and am trying to manage the pain with ibuprofen and aleve.

The neurosurgeon had told me that they don't like to do anything with thoracic discs. The neurosurgeon I saw is with a teaching hospital.

Anyway lol, All my stuff I'm dealing with is spinal stuff. I had a car accident over 6 years ago. I herniated C4/5, T11/12 and L4/5. I've had so many diagnoses is ridiculous. Chronic myofascial syndrome, they were questioning at one point thoracic outlet syndrome, post concussion syndrome, SI joint dysfunction, cervial radiculopathy, lumbar radiculopathy and headaches from the accident.

I've been to a chiro, neuorsurgeon, neurologist, 4 pain management docs, 2 ortho's, Faulkner headache clinic in Boston and my PCP.

I've had facet injections, medial branch blocks, rhizotomy's, greater occipital neve blocks, epidural injections, manipulation from a chiro and my DO, 2 rounds of PT, craniosacral therapy. I have home traction unit, TENS and an SI joint belt.

Its funny my daily headaches are enough to drive me insane, my husband tells me its a short drive. lol My lower back is irritating. However the middle of my back is beyond all that.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 9664
   Posted 10/24/2011 8:41 AM (GMT -6)   
My world kinda fell in due to a car accident as well....Don't know of many doctor that will touch
the T disc as those are very hard more complex area of the spine....Can you try getting to the
Cleveland Clinic maybe they could give you better or other options to try...I liked the PT with
the ultra sound treatments the best....sometimes the tens unit helps...I tried a lower lumbar
back brace but insurance wouldn't pay for it so I couldn't keep it...The headaches can come from the neck area,
Others will come by with better advice and I just wanted to send well wishes to you and say Hello...
Maybe try Accupuncture or look into that...(sorry my spelling is not great)
Many Prayers and well wishes to you...
* So many dx's I could write a book* "It would be nice if we could use the edit button in real life"...

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2010
Total Posts : 932
   Posted 10/24/2011 9:30 AM (GMT -6)   
I have a herniated disk in my cervical spine and the doctor who performed my epidural said that there is a treatment that can coagulate the leaking material inside the disk. They use an RF probe and I'm assuming that if they can use it on the smaller cervical disks, then it could also be used on thoracic.
C4-T4 Scoliosis (disk degeneration, stenosis, narrowed neuroforamen, bone spurs), RT hip and SI joint damage from car accident. Also, pectus excavatum, supraventricular tacycardia and mitral valve prolapse syndrome.
Current meds: Ultram ER 300mg daily, breakthrough - hydrocodone 10-15mg, or oxycodone 5-7.5mg. .25-.5mg ativan as needed for sleep, Verapamil 240mg SR (for tachycardia). [/gray

White Beard
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3702
   Posted 10/24/2011 10:37 AM (GMT -6)   
Welcome to Healing Well Chronic Pain Forum, I hope you stay around and post and become an active member of our family here! We might not be able to cure you, but we can definitely share in your frustrations and pain, and give you some advice and allot of compassion and support! At least you will know you are not alone in your suffering. As they say misery loves company, well when your here you will have all the company you would want! But this company will not only sympathize with you but also empathize, which is a whole lot better, because we know first hand what it is like to live and deal with chronic pain!
You doctor is right! Most if not all doctors and surgeons do not, and will not deal with surgery on the thoracic disk! and not to many Pain Management doctors will do the epidural injections in the thoracic area either! I know first hand what you are going through. I have a herniated and torn disk at T-12. It ended my nursiing career back in the late ninties and early 2000! I was told that they will not touch these disk, unless it was a life threatening situation, or severe paralysis. I was put on disability and started on pain management, they said as long as they could keep me realitively comfortable and I could function,( that is a very broad term! isn't it?) that is how things would be! So I take long acting pain meds to control my pain! In the years since allot of the other disk in my neck and back have went to pot, and I have had several fusions done on my cervical disk in my neck. I also have a very bad deteriation of the disk in my lumbar area, but I have refused to have the recommended surgery. In fact the last surgeon I seen about my lower back said the recommended I avoid surgery for as long as I could, even though the damage in the MRI is extreme! But they do want me to get my right hip replaced to ease the strain on my lower back, but I am not ready to do that quite yet either! So like you I "continue to continue!"
If you can find a spinal pain management doctor that is trained to give the Epidural Spinal Injections in the Thoracic area, you might be able to get some relief, if only temporary! I a have had them and I found them very very painful in the thoracic area, and the relief was only short lived and not worth the pain on having them! But every one is different, some I have talked to get several month of relief from having them, mine was never longer than three weeks and usually much much less!
Again I Welcome you to our Chronic Pain Family!
White Beard
Moderator Chronic Pain
After spending nearly 22 1/2 years in the USAF, I retired in Sept, 1991. I then went back to school and became a licensed RN in 1994, and I worked on Oncology and then a Med Surg Unit, I became disabled in late 1999 and was approved SSD in early 2002!-- DDD, With herniated Disk at T-12 and L4-5. C5-C6 ACDF in Sep 2009, C6-C7 ACDF in Mar 1985, Osteoarthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Complex Sleep Apnea, and host of other things to spice up my life!(NOT!) Medications:Oxycontin, Percocet, Baclofen, Sulfasalazine, Metoprolol, Folic Acid, Supplemental O2 at 3lpm with VPAP Adapt SV I am White Beard with a White Beard!

No Worries!
Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2011
Total Posts : 225
   Posted 10/25/2011 11:22 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello and welcome justanotherday!

I feel your pain. I have messed up discs in each section of my spine...cervical, thoracic and lumbar. I have a two-level cervical fusion of my C5/C6, C6/C7 in July. In fact my 3-month follow up is tomorrow. My Orthopedic Surgeon has recommended a 4-level Lumbar fusion as a last recourse. Everything else has failed and currently there are no other options. We had the surgery scheduled for September, but at the last moment my health insurance denied the operation.

It's a work injury and I've been fighting this since last September. I was given an Award Letter and Worker's Comp was paying for my treatment, but once I hired an attorney to ensure I would be fairly treated they actually revoked my Award, stopped paying me and paying for any and all treatments to include surgery. On top of all that I was terminated from my job!

Sorry, I keep drifting off point. Anyways, as for my thoracic disc, my surgeon said they rarely operate in that area since the risks outweigh the benefits. However, recently I've been experiencing an increase in the frequency and intensity of pain in my thoracic, which is a 10+. I'm at the point where I am willing to take whatever risks to have them operate on my middle back. I'm on a lot of pain meds and they don't touch my pain, especially in my thoracic! I will ask my Doctor again tomorrow if surgery is a possibility for my thoracic and if not why?

I hope you are not suffering the pain I have and you are able to find the answers you seek from your Doctors. Keep us posted and remember you have to be your own best advocate when it comes to seeking treatment!

Best of luck!

No Worries!
Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2011
Total Posts : 225
   Posted 10/27/2011 11:49 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello everyone,

A few days ago I had my 3-month Post-Op checkup for my Cervical Fusion Surgery. The X-rays showed I'm healing on schedule. Unfortunately, despite what the X-rays show I continue to suffer from pain and numbness in my arms and fingers. The surgery has definitely improved my pain and the frequency of occurrence, but I still have the same symptoms. After the surgery, at first the numbness in my fingers happened only n the mornings when I slept on my back instead of my normal right side. However, within the past month it doesn't matter how or whether or not I sleep. I can be sitting down watching TV or walking and all of a sudden I have pain in my arms (mostly left side) and then numbness in my fingers. I was doing a progress evaluation for my Physical Therapy and when I did the grip test using my left hand I couldn't grip with the same strength as I had a few weeks after my surgery. When I went home I experienced pain and numbness in my left arm/hand for the remainder of the day. My doctor and Physical Therapist are puzzled by this, as well as me. I still feel a lot better after the surgery, because before I had the operation I was almost constantly in pain and the numbness in my fingers were driving me crazy!

During my visit I also complained of increasing pain in my middle back (Thoracic). I have three herniated discs in my thoracic, which are in my T4-T5, T5-T6 and T6-T7 and my diagnosis is Thoracic Myofascial/ Thoracic Facet Syndrome. Again, where I was hurting the most didn't correspond with where my herniated discs were.

I can't control or explain it, but it sure does make me seem crazy! I say, crazy, because I don't care where the pain is, but just that it is out of control and at least a 10 on the pain scale. In fact, as I sit here typing this I am experiencing pain that is creeping towards the ten mark. As you can see I tend to write a lot when I write...just trying to get the info. off my mind and share my experiences in the hope that I can help others and they can help me too. Anyways, my doctor prescribed me Diclofenac (Voltaren), which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. I've only been on it for the past two days, but it seems to be working! My doctor has also ordered a Thoracic Epidural Injection, which I'm not looking forward to, but will endure if it helps.

I hope the Voltaren continues to work, because the next step is to try Lyrica, which will cost me $120.00 after insurance pays their portion! *My pharmacy friend told me that the company that makes Lyrica offers coupons to doctors as an incentive for prescribing it to their patients. They give a total of 10 coupons to each doctor to give to their patients and it costs the patients (after insurance) only $25.00 per prescription for 12 months. This is a heck of a lot cheaper than paying $120.00 per refill. So, if you are taking Lyrica ask your doctor about this coupon program and I hope it saves you money!

** Justanotherday, I asked my doctor about Thoracic surgery. He told me that first, injures to the Thoracic region like my herniated discs are rare and typically due to trauma like my work injury. They don't tend to operate on these discs, because the rib cage acts as a reinforcement to that portion of the spine. As a result, most people with thoracic injuries don't suffer much pain. The rib cage also makes it much more difficult to operate around, so thoracic surgery is done, but on rare occasions. I hope this info. Is helpful, but naturally you should consult your doctor and get a 2nd and/or 3rd opinion.

My doctor won't release me back to work until I've had my 4-level Lumbar Fusion surgery. He believes this surgery may help with some of my thoracic pain. Despite my herniated discs and the incredible pain in my Thoracic region I won't even consider surgery. That's why I am looking into the Intrathecal Drug Pump implant. I figure the Lumbar Fusion will fix my lower back pain and the Drug Pump will help me deal with my Thoracic pain. I'm currently waiting for approval from my insurance for the Drug Pump Test Phase.

By next Monday I will have one device already implanted in my body and that's the Interstim Therapy device that helps me with my bladder issues (Chronic Urinary Retention, OAB, Urinary Frequency). The Drug Pump will be the second device implanted in me, should the test phase be successful. As far as I know, no one has ever had 3 implanted devices in the, but if I have the Lumbar Fusion and it fails, I wouldn't hesitate to be the first...and try the Neurostimulator. The way I see it, I'd rather try to combat my pain with whatever technology is available a the time than just sit back and suffer from debilitating Chronic Pain! As I told my doctor who described the large incisions he'll have to make for the Lumbar modeling days are far behind me. Also, I can't see myself existing all doped up or accepting a long life full of needless pain. Without worrying or upsetting my CP friends I'll just end by saying, I am a strong believer in the Quality of Life vs. the Quantity of Life.

As usual, I've said too much and nothing at all...

May you all wake up to a pain free, happy life!


New Member

Date Joined Jul 2010
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 10/28/2011 12:06 PM (GMT -6)   
justanotherday - I have herniated discs at T6-7-8-9 and am scheduled for surgery on Nov 15th.  They are performing an anterior diskectomy (through the back).  Unfortunately, they are only removing one of the disks.  (Can't remember why or which one.  Next pre-op is scheduled for Nov 7.)  So the surgery can be done.  Just not many doctors do it - they have to send me out of town to a specialist.  Unfortunately I've been dealing with this pain for years.  Having to jump through many hoops trying to get any relief.  (We all know that story.)  So good luck to you.

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2011
Total Posts : 179
   Posted 11/9/2011 6:48 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for all the advice everyone.

Sorry it took so long for me to get back. A little crazy around here with kids. Seems like I'm running in 40 different directions.

Well I ended up having botox injected into the occipital are, neck and traps. I haven't felt anything different yet. However he did tell me that it would be upwards of 4 weeks for it to work.

Right now he wants to work on the headaches before we do anymore to the neck and back. I'm trying to put off having an scs installed in my lower back and one in my neck for occipital neuromodulation.

Just thought I'd pop in for a few minutes before I had to get the last of 4 children ready for school.

Hope everyone has a great day.

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2011
Total Posts : 31
   Posted 11/21/2011 10:10 AM (GMT -6)   
Hey Everyone, I am new here. I wanted to comment on Charles's 4 level lumbar fusion. In 1995 I had a patient (i was a CNA) fall out of the hoyer lift and crushed me into the concrete floor, she was about 300lbs! I had herniated L5-S1. I had my first posterior fusion in Jan 1996, by May of 1996 the transverse connector rod became dislogded and was floating around impinging on my nerves to my legs. That June they went in and took out all the hardware. All this hammering and screwing caused more damage to the surrounding discs and caused my spine to slip forward called spondyloletsis, it also caused degenerative disc disease. Dying in pain for more that 7 years, I finally agreed to another surgery as the slipage was going to cause paralysis. In April 2007 I had a anterior and posterior fusion from L1 thru S1. I have a 14 inch scar on my stomach and 16 or so inches on my back. I'm am sad to say that this did nothing to help with pain nor with improving my quality of life. Everyday my legs alternate depending on how I am sitting, one is freezing cold and numb, then I move and it goes to the other leg. I also have absolutely no feeling from just above my incisions to about the back of my knees. all the way around front to back, you can pinch me as hard as you can and I don't feel nothing but tingling. I have not been able to sleep in a bed since the surgery because you can feel the rods when you lay down. So I have been sleeping in a recliner since. I was told by the surgeron that I had a 90% chance of having all my pain relieved. HAH BS I am worse off now that I have been since this started 16 years ago. I was 27 when this happened. My suggestion is to way all the facts and get a few 2nd opinions. I also have had 4 bladder surgeries since the last fusion as there is some sort of nerve damage to my bladder and they have yet to figure out how to fix it.
DX: spinal fracture L5/S1, fusion 1/96, Spondylolethsis, DDD, nerve damage to both legs and bladder, 4/2007 anterior & posterior fusion L1-S1, 4 Bladder surgeries. Multipe injections, depression, PTSD

Meds: MS Contin 60mg bid, oxycodone 30mg tid, clonazapam 1mg bid, Pristiq 50mg.
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