In fact, over 100 million Americans suffer from some kind of chronic pain. One of the biggest problems is our backs. From neck to tailbone, our backs cause more disability than any other single problem.
According to a recent study, back pain, and specifically lower back pain accounts for 1 in 10 people being disabled across the globe.
But lower back pain, while the most common, isn’t the only kind of back pain experienced. Thankfully less common, thoracic, or middle back pain can be far more severe and debilitating.
When your middle back hurts, you may feel like you’d do anything to make it better, even surgery. But thoracic spine surgery should be considered very carefully before this drastic measure is taken.
Understanding the other options for thoracic pain and the circumstances when thoracic spine surgery should be considered will help you to make an informed decision about this major procedure.
What Causes Thoracic Pain
You may be wondering why thoracic pain is less common than lower back pain.
This is because the thoracic region – located between the bottom of the neck and the top of the lower back – is well supported. It has to be.
It has to be. There are a lot of important things in the body located in that area.
The vertebra in the thoracic region connects to the ribs, which as you know wrap around and connect to the breastbone in the front. This creates a protective cage around some of the most important organs in your body, like the heart and the liver.
This support means that most damage to this area is either straightforward overuse or poor posture, or caused by major trauma.
With strain or posture issues medication and physical therapy should help. Because the back does so much to support the body, it can take a while for it to heal.
The real problem for thoracic pain comes from the other sources. Major trauma, like a fall, car accident, or getting hit in the back create significant problems in the middle region of the back. There is also the possibility for pain to come from spinal curves, like scoliosis.
When Should You Consider Thoracic Spine Surgery
The short answer to that question is “Only after you’ve tried everything else”.
This can be very frustrating to someone who has experienced middle back pain for a long time. There are a number of potential treatments, from pills to shots to physical therapy, and trying most of them can seem overwhelming when dealing with constant pain.
However, the very same thing that causes thoracic pain to be rare is what causes surgery to be so difficult. Because the thoracic region supports much of the body and helps to protect major organs along with the ribs, surgery can cause more problems than it solves.
For instance, recovery time can be much longer than surgery in other parts of the back. And almost all thoracic spine surgery requires manipulating parts of the body that are important, like the spinal cord and organs.
In recent years, less invasive options have become available. If you and your doctor decide that thoracic spine surgery is the right option for you, make sure you understand the types of surgery available.
When you’re in pain it feels like nothing else matters. This is doubly true when your back hurts. Your back is part of everything you do, so whether it’s lower back, neck or thoracic pain, you just want the pain to go away.
But, especially when considering the major surgery that’s involved with thoracic pain, you should make an informed decision and know that everything else has failed to work, first.