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
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.
A physical assessment will check your spine to see if there is
pain when pressure is applied or with movement.
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?
If you need a brace, 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.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you have any
questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This is not medical
advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each person’s health needs are
different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using this information. If you have an
emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 11/2015 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights
reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6907