Thoracic Spine Surgery Overview
Not many people realize how important the back and spinal musculoskeletal structure is until something goes wrong with it. We all tend to take it for granted until we pull a muscle, pinch a nerve, or slip or herniate a disc. The spine functions to keep us upright, to maintain adequate space between the vertebrae and allow our bodies to bend forward, backward, and sideways. Discs located in between the spinal vertebrae act as shock absorbers, and when one is damaged, herniated or just plain worn out, we feel pain as a result as well as loss of movement and limited range of motion.
The most common problems in the thoracic spinal regions, or the area of the spine between the neck (cervical spine) and the lumbar, (lower back) regions are thoracic disease or injury often caused by a herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, compressed fractures, kyphosis, and spondylolisthesis. Various treatment options are available, in both invasive and noninvasive procedures, depending on severity and need.
Thoracic Spine Treatment Options
The most common treatment procedures or options for any treatments to spinal areas, including cervical, thoracic and lumbar areas may include but are not limited to:
Common Thoracic Spine Surgical Treatments
Noninvasive procedures for treating spine injuries or disease processes include medications including muscle relaxants that often provide pain relief for individuals suffering from arthritis in the spine or from spasming muscles in any location along the back. Muscle stimulators and electrical stimulation (TENS) units also help provide some relief from pain and increase mobility. Some patients find relief through nerve blocks, which help to reduce pain, but do not generate increased mobility. Acupuncture often helps provide both pain relief and increased movement. Patients receiving physical therapy or undergoing traction also benefit from stretching the spine, which opens spaces between the vertebra and allows realignment of discs that provide relief for many musculoskeletal conditions. Spinal fusion is a method by which the vertebrae of the spine are fused together with screws, rods or even bone grafts. A thoracic laminectomy, also known as an open decompression, is a surgical procedure performed to help alleviate pain caused by pinched or crowded nerves along the spine. Laminectomy surgical procedures remove very small sections of bone above or beneath nerve roots or vertebral discs to give the nerve root or the nerve more space to move. This procedure offers increased function for many individuals suffering from degenerative changes in the spine that result from aging, or enlargement of facet joints, located within each vertebra.
Facet debridement of the thoracic spine involves removal of damaged, dead, or injured tissues that commonly occur along the facet joints of the thoracic spine. This procedure is also used to treat ligament injuries. Foramenoplasty is another popular treatment that addresses spinal stenosis, more commonly known as a narrowing of the spinal canal through which thoracic nerve roots exit, as well as herniated discs in the thoracic region.
Who Benefits from Thoracic Spine Treatments and Surgeries?
Any individual who suffers from cervical, thoracic, or lumbar pain caused by degenerative disc disease, bone fractures, sports injuries, scoliosis, arthritis, pinched nerves or other spinal disease processes may benefit from a combination of spine treatment options. Whenever possible, physicians treat thoracic spine injuries and conditions through noninvasive surgical procedures before attempting surgery. Various thoracic spine treatments often help to restore movement, range of motion, reduce pain and provide improved quality of life for individuals undergoing such treatments.
What Do Thoracic Spine Treatments and Surgeries Cost?
The cost of thoracic spine treatments and surgeries depend on the type that is chosen, the severity of the problem, and the overall physical condition of the patient. Any type of spinal procedure is expensive, and in the United States may cost up to $80,000. For example, disc repair surgeries in the United States cost approximately $10,000 each, but does not include doctor's fees, which may accrue to roughly $45,000, as well as a hospital stay, diagnostic procedures, x-rays, medications, surgical staff support and so forth. However, disc surgeries in India, such as fusion procedures, are approximately priced at $8,700, while laminectomy surgical procedures cost roughly $4,500. Costs for endoscopic laser surgical procedure costs also vary according to location, severity, and geographic location.
Who Performs Thoracic Spine Treatments and Surgeries?
Any type of spinal procedure or treatment should be overseen by an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in spinal care and spinal surgeries. Orthopedic surgeons should be certified and experienced in all types of spinal surgeries, including cervical, thoracic and lumbar procedures and techniques, and belong to recognized organizations and associations. Consumers should always verify the experience and training of surgeons, facilities and support staff to ensure proper training and expertise, certification, and accreditation for any suggested procedures or techniques.
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