Thoracic disc herniations. They are not very common. They are not mentioned much. But thoracic disc herniations do exist. The C7/T1 disc herniations are even more unusual and are presented in the spine literature more due to their unusualness. New Hampshire Spine and Sport embraces unusual! Unusual warrants care and attention. New Hampshire Spine and Sport cares for unusual presentations like thoracic disc herniations, specifically those at the C7/T1 spinal level which is also known as the cervicothoracic junction where the neck links with the upper back.
Unusual Disc Herniation
C7/T1 disc herniations are unusual from their neighbors, cervical disc herniations (neck) and thoracic disc herniations (mid-back). Why? They tend to herniate laterally (out to the side) instead of centrally. What makes that unusual? The C7/T1 disc level does not typically have Luschka joints. These joints secure the intervertebral discs in place and lessen the risk of herniation. They allow flexion and extension and limit the extent of lateral flexion in the neck. There is a report of a rare existence of a central C7/T1 disc herniation that produced lower extremity numbness and weakness along with gait disturbance though in a patient who had no or very little hand-related symptoms that would otherwise be expected. (1) Be confident that your Southern New Hampshire chiropractor will perform a careful examination and discern the source of your pain with familiarity of unusual incidences like this.
Symptoms of C8 Disc Herniation
C7/T1 disc herniations make up 3.5% to 4% of all herniated cervical discs. (2,3) They are inclined to be misdiagnosed owing to their unusual neurological findings. C7/T1 disc herniations (aka herniations of the C8 disc) cause weakness in hand muscles. The C8 nerve roots exit between the C7 vertebra and the T1 vertebra. (4) They lie above the C8 disc making it unusual for a disc herniation to compress the C8 nerve. (5) Nevertheless when it does, a C7/T1 disc herniation usually sends pain down the arm into the ring and pinky fingers (which sometimes confuses the case as pain here is telling of ulnar neuropathy). (3,4) It will not be confusing to your Southern New Hampshire chiropractor though! New Hampshire Spine and Sport knows the tests to do and questions to ask to make the diagnosis.
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