The thoracic spine is the middle section of the spine, between the neck and bottom of the rib cage. Arthritis in the mid back is not as common as arthritis in the neck or low back. Thoracic arthritis simply means wear and tear in the mid back. This is also called degeneration or degenerative disc disease. It is less common in the thoracic spine because our thoracic spine moves less than our neck and low back.
Arthritis occurs with the ageing process. Everyone can expect some arthritis as with increased age. In most cases this is not an issue and does not cause a major problem. Previous injuries to the mid back and neck make this condition more likely along with occupations that involve large amounts of laborious work and bending.
Arthritis in the mid back usually presents as pain and stiffness. If the arthritis is extensive, bone spurs, ligament thickening and loss of the height of the intervertebral disc can be significant. When this occurs, it is possible to pinch the spinal nerves or spinal cord. In this situation, neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling and muscle weakness can occur.
Treatment for thoracic arthritis will depend on the severity of the condition. In most cases chiropractic and physiotherapy will focus on improving stiffness and pain. At times, if the arthritis is extension a surgical opinion may be necessary. Exercise therapy delivered by a chiropractor or physiotherapy is important to improve the symptoms of thoracic arthritis.