Thoracic spinal stenosis is a condition in which the nerves in the thoracic portion of the spinal canal are compressed. It is less common than cervical or lumbar stenosis.
Causes for thoracic stenosis can involve congenital problems, such as shortened pedicles, mass issues such as tumors, but most commonly involves degenerative spine disease, better known as osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritic changes include bone spurs which can take up space surrounding the nerves. As we age, our intervertebral discs lose water content and “shrink”. With this loss of disc height, ligaments that support the spine can fold inward and cause stenosis. Wear and tear on your spinal bones can prompt the formation of bone spurs, which can grow into the spinal canal.
Narrowing in the thoracic spine can cause numbness and tingling across the chest.
Procedural treatment for stenosis can include cortisone injections into the facet joints if they are hypertrophied (the ligaments are thickened/bulging), transforaminal or interlaminar injections. The location of the injection is decided by the distribution of symptoms and imaging findings. Regenerative injections including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are also being used experimentally to provide a healthier environment to promote healing in the thoracic region.