Thoracic Spine Injury
What is the thoracic spine?
The thoracic spine (T-spine) is in the upper to mid back. It connects to the ribs that protect vital organs. It is made up of 12 vertebrae which are the bones that surround the spinal cord. There are disks between each vertebrae.
What is a thoracic spine injury?
A Thoracic spine injury can happen when a great amount of force is placed against the spinal column. An injury can happen if the spinal column is not strong enough to stand up to that force. Injury can occur to the vertebrae, the disks, or the cord. This can cause pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling. Symptoms vary in each person.
What tests will I need?
- X-rays are tests that look at the bones in your spine.
- A CT scan (Computed Tomography Scan) is a test that uses x-rays to obtain detailed pictures of bones and other tissues.
How is it treated?
If you have an injury that needs treatment, you will be seen by a spine specialist. This doctor will determine the location and stability of the fracture. The doctor will decide whether or not surgery is needed. If surgery is not needed but a fracture is found, you may have to wear a brace. Your doctor will decide what type of brace and how long it will be worn.
What should I expect while in the hospital?
- You will have to lie flat in bed to keep your spine aligned until a brace has been placed. This can be uncomfortable, but it is needed to protect your spine. In order to turn in bed, you must be rolled by the nursing staff. This is called “log rolling”. It allows you to be turned while keeping your spine aligned.
- You may not be able to eat anything until your doctor decides if you have a spine injury. This can take up to 24 hours. The reason for this is to be prepared if you have to go to surgery. If surgery is needed you will not be allowed to eat. We will be giving IV fluids to keep you hydrated.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 09/18/2012
Copyright © 09/18/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6907
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