What is it?

Thoracic radiculopathy refers to a compressed nerve root in the thoracic area of the spine, which is your upper back. This is the least common location for radiculopathy. The symptoms often follow a dermatomal distribution, and can cause pain and numbness that wraps around to the front of your body.

10 Alikes with Radiculopathy of thoracic region

Learn from others
who are experiencing
Radiculopathy of thoracic region.

Signs & symptoms

When a nerve root is compressed, it becomes inflamed. This results in several unpleasant symptoms that may include:
* Sharp pain in the back, arms, legs or shoulders that may worsen with certain activities, even something as simple as coughing or sneezing
* Weakness or loss of reflexes in the arms or legs
* Numbness of the skin, "pins and needles", or other abnormal sensations (paresthesia) in the arms or legs

Your specific symptoms will depend on where in the spine the nerve root is pinched. However, it’s also possible that you don’t experience any symptoms or you go through periodic flare-ups of symptoms.


The doctor may take several steps to diagnose radiculopathy:
* A physical exam and physical tests may be used to check your muscle strength and reflexes. If you have pain with certain movements, this may help your doctor identify the affected nerve root.
* Imaging tests, such as an X-ray, CT scan or MRI scan, are used to better see the structures in the problem area.
* Nerve conduction studies, along with electromyography, can also be used to help pinpoint whether the problem is neurological or muscular.


Radiculopathy treatment will depend on the location and the cause of the condition as well as many other factors. Nonsurgical treatment is typically recommended first and may include:
* Medications, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opioid medicines or muscle relaxants, to manage the symptoms
* Weight loss strategies to reduce pressure on the problem area
* Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and prevent further damage
* Steroid injections to reduce inflammation and relieve pain

Some people may need more advanced treatments, such as surgery. Surgery is typically used to reduce the pressure on the nerve root by widening the space where the nerve roots exit the spine. This may involve removing all or parts of a disc and/or vertebrae. Cervical posterior foraminotomy is one of the minimally invasive spine surgery options available.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

Learn more about our editorial process for content accuracy.

Alike Wisdom

Instantly get answers to medical questions with our AI, built from the collective wisdom of our community facing similar experiences

Thank you! Your submission has been received!

Find people who are
experiencing a similar
medical reality

100% Free