Chiropractic Care for Your Health – Thoracic Spine

The Thoracic Spine (Upper to Mid-Back)

This article is Part 2 of 3, helping you understand the importance of chiropractic care and its effect on your health. The spine is divided into 3 main areas: the Cervical Spine (Neck), the Thoracic Spine (upper to mid-back), and the Lumbar / Sacral Spine (lower back).

Part 2: The Thoracic Spine (Upper to Mid-Back)

Tension and pain in the thoracic spine.The thoracic spine contains the vertebrae labeled T1 – T12. These 12 vertebrae are located in the upper to mid-back, with T1 starting just below the C7 vertebra of the cervical spine (neck). The thoracic spine does double duty — not only does it protect the nerves that pass through the spinal channel, but it is also is where the ribcage attaches to the spine. The thoracic spine also curves the opposite way of both the cervical (neck) lumbar (lower back) spine giving the spine its s-curve. The cervical and lumbar spines curve inward, toward the body (lordosis), while the thoracic spine curves outward (kyphosis). This allows you to be able to bend over and touch your toes.

Nerves Exiting the Thoracic Spine

Nerves from the thoracic spine exit and control the functions of many of the body's major organs. T1 – T4 deal with the lungs, heart, esophagus, trachea, larynx, parts of the arms, as well as muscles of the upper body. T5 – T10 are responsible for controlling the functions of the adrenal & suprarenal glands, liver, stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, diaphragm, spleen, kidneys, appendix, and the small intestines. T11 & T12 nerves control the small intestines, uterus, colon, solar plexus, lymph circulation, and the muscles in your upper to mid-back.

The Flexibility of the Thoracic Spine

Ribcage attaches to the thoracic spine.The thoracic spine has a limited range of motion and flexibility because your ribcage is connected to it. The T11 and T12 vertebrae, which are not connected to the ribcage, are the most flexible part of the thoracic spine. Still, maintaining flexibility in the thoracic spine is important in allowing you to touch your toes, lift items, and arm movements. This is particularly important for anyone that likes to play sports, especially softball/baseball, racquetball, tennis, and golf.

Dr. Silverston will be happy to show you exercises to maintain your spine's flexibility. To set an appointment call (410) 461-3435 or use our appointment form.

A loss of mobility in the thoracic spine can also occur due to aging. Costal cartilages can ossify and ligaments can stiffen. Additionally, osteoporosis (bone mass deterioration) and disc degeneration become more common as we age. For some, the thoracic vertebrae become wedge-shaped (compression fractures), and in extreme cases, this leads to hyper-kyphosis (hunchback) when the back becomes hunched over.

Some of the Symptoms Related to Problems in the Thoracic Spine

  • Thoracic Spine: T1 to T12Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Congestion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Gallbladder conditions
  • Gastritis / Gas Pains
  • Heartburn
  • Heart conditions
  • High blood pressure
  • Influenza
  • Jaundice
  • Kidney problems
  • Liver conditions
  • Middle back pain
  • Pain or numbness in the wrist, hand, and finger
  • Pneumonia
  • Reflux
  • Stomach problems
  • Ulcers

Keys to Taking Care of Your Thoracic Spine

  1. Posture is very important in maintaining a healthy thoracic spine.

  2. Regular exercise. Exercise has many benefits for the spine, including the ability to help maintain and enhance your flexibility as well as your core strength. Weight-bearing exercises can help you combat osteoporosis.

  3. Chiropractic Care. Regular chiropractic exams and adjustments are needed to make sure your spine is correctly aligned and the vertebrae in the spine are moving correctly. This allows your nervous system to function better, improving your immune system as well as the function of your organs and muscles.

Chiropractic Care for a Healthy Thoracic Spine

Dr. Steve Silverston is an experienced chiropractor who treats thoracic spine issues daily. Chiropractic care allows your thoracic spine to move properly, corrects subluxations (misalignments), and removes pressure on the nerves. Regular chiropractic care will help eliminate back pain, keep your nervous system functioning optimally, and let you maintain your flexibility. When your spine is in proper alignment and your nerves are functioning properly, your body can deal better with the conditions listed above, and in many cases avoid these problems altogether.

Call World Class Chiropractic at (410) 461-3435 and arrange for an appointment to have your spine evaluated. You can also use our convenient appointment form. Let Dr. Steve Silverston find and correct any back problems you are dealing with. If any of your friends and family can benefit from this article, please recommend this article to them.


Read Part 1: The Cervical Spine  |  Read Part 3: The Lumbar/Sacral Spine