A thoracic pinched nerve refers to a nerve under pressure. It is often the result of a degenerative condition in the thoracic spine (middle of the back) that causes a disc or bony spur to encroach on or compress a nerve, resulting in pain and other symptoms.

Thoracic pinched nerves are generally less common than cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) pinched nerves.

Common causes of pinched nerve include degenerative disc disease, which results in wear and tear on the intervertebral disc, degenerative joint disease, which results in the formation of bony spurs on the facet joints that put pressure on nerves, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, and traumatic injury.

Symptoms will largely depend on the exact location of the problem. Individuals with a thoracic pinched nerve often experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the middle of the back
  • Pain that radiates to the front of the chest or shoulder
  • Numbness or tingling that extends from the back into the upper chest
  • Muscle weakness or unusual muscle stiffness in the legs
  • Temporary paralysis beneath the point of nerve compression
  • Inability to bend backward or turn the trunk
  • Difficulty sitting for long periods

If you suspect you may have a thoracic pinched nerve, one of Lancaster Orthopedic Group’s spine specialists will confirm the diagnosis with a physical exam and medical imaging, and determine the best course of treatment. Conservative treatments might include heat therapy, cold therapy, pain medication, or epidural corticosteroid injections.