A thoracic bulging disc occurs when a disc in the thoracic spine (middle of the back) has flattened and expanded under pressure from the surrounding vertebrae. The thoracic spine provides support for the rib cage and upper body, and a bulging disc in this area is less common than a bulging disc in the lumbar (lower back) or cervical (neck) spine.
Bulging discs are primarily caused by degeneration, or age-related wear and tear, that breaks down the walls of the disc, repetitive bending and twisting motions that weaken the outer fibrous rings of the disc, and sudden falls or trauma, such as motor vehicle accidents.
It is possible to have a bulging disc without any symptoms. However, if the disc compresses an adjacent nerve root or the spinal cord, it can cause pain, discomfort, and disability in various parts of the body. If left untreated, the disc may continue to bulge until it tears, resulting in a herniated disc.
Pain and discomfort associated with a thoracic bulging disc is most often felt in the mid back and shoulder area. Sometimes pain, numbness and tingling may radiate to the neck, arms and fingers, and may also travel to the legs, buttocks and feet.
In mild cases of thoracic bulging disc, a Lancaster Orthopedic Group spine specialist may recommend rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain and discomfort. Adopting good posture, exercising, and avoiding sitting for long periods may also help. If the pain and symptoms persist after conservative treatment, you may require surgery to treat your bulging disc.