Glossary: Thoracic 

William Mattar Glossary
Posted: October 15, 2022


From the base of the skull to the tailbone runs a long and flexible column of bones known as “vertebrae” that, among other things, serves to protect the spinal cord. This important column of vertebrae is commonly referred to as the “spine” or the “backbone.” The human spine is comprised of three sections, one of which is known as the “thoracic spine.” Generally speaking, the thoracic spine is the mid-section of the spine. It includes twelve vertebrae beginning at the base of the neck and ending toward the bottom of the ribs. 

While vertebrae that comprise the thoracic spine help to protect the spinal cord from injury, the thoracic itself may become injured due to a sudden and traumatic blow. The most common injury to the thoracic spine typically includes a “vertebral compression fracture” (VCF). A VCF occurs when one or more of the vertebrae in the spine collapses. When this happens, it can lead to severe pain, deformity, and even a loss of height. This type of thoracic spine injury can potentially occur as the result of a motor vehicle accident. 

Common indications of a VCF injury include, but are not limited to, severe pain, difficulty breathing, a loss of sensation in the arms or legs, and other life-altering symptoms, according to the Cleveland Clinic. A thoracic spine injury, including a VCF, can be diagnosed through tests and imaging including computed tomography (CT) scans; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), X-rays, electromyograms, and myelograms. Some types of injuries are more easy to identify than others.  


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