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Thoracic radiculopathy

Thoracic radiculopathy describes the condition where a nerve in the mid-back has become dysfunctional. That is, it has a problem with the way it conducts nerve signals. A nerves job is to conduct signals just like an electrical cord. This conduction loss is typically caused by compression and irritation from a herniated disc, arthritis and bone spurs or a variety of other conditions.

What causes thoracic radiculopathy?

Thoracic radiculopathy is usually caused when space where the nerve roots exit the spine, the intervertebral foramen, is narrowed. This makes it easier for the nerve to become ‘pinched’ and irritated causing the classic sharp, shooting and sometimes burning pain and numbness associated with radiculopathy. This can occur for reasons that include the following:

  • Spinal stenosis
  • Foraminal stenosis
  • Herniated disc
  • Bulging disc
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Arthritis
  • Bone spur
  • Spine injury

Types of radiculopathy

There are 3 different types of radiculopathy, which include the following:

  1. Cervical. Refers to the nerves in the cervical spine (neck), but also affects nerves that extend through the shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers. It can cause pain, weakness, tingling, or numbness in these areas.
  2. Thoracic. Occurs in the thoracic spine (upper and mid back) region, but is relatively uncommon. Symptoms can affect the chest, abdomen, mid-back, or upper back.
  3. Lumbar. Effects the nerves in the lumbar spine (lower back) as well as those that travel trough the buttocks, legs, and feet (like the sciatic nerve). Lower back pain and muscle weakness are possible symptoms.


Radiculopathy is defined by the following – Changes in reflexes, sensation and muscle power (weakness). Radiculopathy can occur without pain. Pain from a nerve is called radicular pain and is related to radiculopathy without being an essential component. There radiculopathy can exist without pain.


The treatment for radiculopathy depends on many factors such as its location, nature and severity. Chiropractic and physiotherapy treatments in the rehabilitation phase of the injury. Radiculopathy should be evaluated by a medical specialist such as a spinal surgeon (ortho or neurosurgeon).

More information

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