Spinal Nerves and Intervetebral Foramen
The thoracic spine is composed of 12 vertebral levels T1-T12. In the spine, there are areas where the intervertebral disc and facet joints, join two cervical vertebral bodies. Where this occurs, it forms two canals on either side of the spine. These canals are called intervertebral foramina. At each level, the cervical spinal nerves exit the spinal cord through the intervertebral foramen. The spinal nerves are the electrical wires of the body. The size or diameter of the spinal foramina varies from person to person. Any compromise or encroachment of the canal may put pressure on the exiting nerve producing symptoms varying from pain, tingling, numbness or even weakness.
Degeneration of the thoracic spine can manifest in different ways, from disc degeneration to bony spur or osteophyte formation resulting in possible nerve encroachment or pinching.
In general there is less movement in the thoracic spine. As a result the frequency of a thoracic radiculopathy is much lower than the thoracic and cervical spine.
Thoracic radiculopathy is the pain and resulting symptoms associated with compression on the nerve or nerve roots of the thoracic spine. When the symptoms radiate or refer distally from the spine into the back and outward along the ribs to the anterior chest wall it is considered radiculopathy.
Nerve Root Entrapment
A nerve root is the initial segment of a nerve where it leaves the central nervous system. Nerves that exit the area of the thoracic spine provide sensation and motor control to the back, trunk, chest, arms and internal organs. Damage or interference with the transfer of information of these nerves can cause neurological problems such as pain, weakness, abnormal sensations, and numbness. Entrapment is the compression or irritation of the nerve, or the nerve root.