Treatment for thoracic spine degeneration is usually nonsurgical, says the UCLA Spine Center. Patients commonly have physical therapy with back and core strengthening and low-impact aerobic exercise to treat the condition. Surgery may be necessary if bone spurs have developed and are compressing the spine in a way that causes neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling or weakness in the legs. The goal of surgery is to remove pressure from the spinal cord.
There is no procedure for total disc replacement in the thoracic spine. Surgery for thoracic disc degeneration involves fusing a bone graft along the spine with rods or a plate, according to UCLA Spine Center. This stops spinal motion in the area causing the symptoms. There may also be complete removal of the disc with insertion of a graft or cage device in its place to assist healing or fusion of the bone.
The thoracic spine has 12 vertebrae and runs from the neck to the bottom of the ribcage. Each vertebral body has a cartilage disc cushioning it from the other vertebrae, explains UCLA Spine Center. As the discs wear out due to aging or injury, their degeneration causes back pain and ultimately may lead to bone spurs that impinge on the spinal cord and limit the patient's mobility.