Thoracic Disc Herniation

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Thoracic Disc Herniation (Inpatient Care) Care Guide

Thoracic disc herniation occurs when a thoracic disc bulges out from between your vertebrae. Thoracic discs are spongy cushions between the vertebrae in your spine. Thoracic discs are located between the base of your neck and your lower back. The herniated disc may press on your nerves or spinal cord.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

  • Shots into your spine may bruise your back, cause an infection, or damage your spinal cord. With surgery, you may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Fluid may build up and damage your lungs during surgery. Severe lung damage may be life-threatening. The covering of your spinal cord may be damaged, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) may leak out. Your spinal cord may be injured, and you may not be able to walk. Even with treatment, you may still feel pain.

  • Without treatment, your symptoms may get worse. Your bulging disc may continue to press on your spinal cord or nerves and cause permanent damage. Your back pain may spread to other areas of your body. Your legs may become numb or paralyzed.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Medicines:

  • NSAIDs decrease swelling and pain.

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

  • Muscle relaxers help decrease pain and muscle spasms.

  • Steroids help decrease inflammation.

  • Chemonucleolysis is an injection of medicine given to shrink your bulging disc.

  • An epidural injection is medicine that numbs the area near the bulging disc and decreases pain.

  • A nerve block is an injection of medicine close to the nerve that is near the bulging disc. This can help decrease pain and inflammation.

Treatment:

  • Physical therapy may be recommended by your caregiver. A physical therapist may teach you exercises and stretches to make your back muscles stronger and decrease your pain.

  • Surgery may be needed to fix your herniated disc if other treatments have failed. Surgery may be done to remove your herniated disc and make your spine stronger. Surgery may also be done to decrease pressure on your nerves and spinal cord.

Tests:

An MRI or a CT scan may be used to take pictures of your spine. The pictures can show a bulging disc and if the disc is pressing on your nerves and spinal cord. You may be given contrast dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the caregiver if you have any metal in or on your body.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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