Thoracic back pain


This guide gives a general overview of the anatomy of the thoracic spine. It also includes some facts regarding pathophysiology in this region.

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The sagittal plane alignment of the Thoracic spine is on average 35% (normal range is 20° to lớn 50°).<1>

Important Structures

The important parts of the thoracic spine include:

JointsStructure/motionNervesNigamentsIV disc

Bones (vertebrae và ribs)

The human spine is made up of 24 spinal bones, called vertebrae. Vertebrae are stacked on top of one another to create the spinal column. The spinal column is the body’s main upright support.


T5-T8 tover khổng lồ be the most “typical” in that they contain features present in all thoracic vertebrae. T5-T8 have the greachạy thử rotation ability of the thoracic region.The primary characteristic of the thoracic vertebrae is the presence of costal facets. There are 6 facets per thoracic vertebrae: 2 on the transverse processes and 4 demifacets. The facets of the transverse processes articulate with the tubercle of the associated rib. The demifacets are bilaterally paired và located on the superior & inferior posterolateral aspects of the vertebrae. They are positioned so that the superior demifacet of inferior vertebrae articulates with the head of the same rib that articulates with the inferior demifacet of a superior rib. For example, the inferior demifacets of T4 and the superior demifacets of T5 articulate with the head of rib 5.The length of the transverse processes decreases as the column descends.The positioning of the ribs & spinous processes greatly limits flexion and extension of the thoracic vertebrae.Thoracic vertebrae have sầu superior articular facets that face in a posterolateral direction.The intervertebral disc height, is, on average, the least of the vertebral regions.Vertebral body toàn thân size: increases progressively from T1 lớn T12

Ribs và sternum ( see link)

The ribs are the bony framework of the thoracic cavity.

There are twelve pairs of ribs.

According to their attachment lớn the sternum, the ribs are classified inlớn 3 groups: true, false, & floating ribs<4>.



There are 3 types of joints present in the thoracic spine:

Between vertebral bodies – adjacent vertebral bodies are joined by intervertebral discs, made of fibrocartilage. This is a type of cartilaginous joint, known as a symphysis.

Between vertebral arches ie facet joints – formed by the articulation of superior và inferior articular processes from adjacent vertebrae. It is a synovial type joint. In the thoracic spine facet joints angled at:

60° to lớn the transverse plane20° khổng lồ the frontal plane, with the superior facets facing posterior & a little up & laterally và the inferior facets facing anteriorly, down, and medially.motion: lateral flexion và rotation; no flexion/extension

Costovertebral joints, chất lượng to the thoracic spine - consists of the head of the rib articulating with:

Superior costal facet of the corresponding vertebraInferior costal facet of the superior vertebraIntervertebral disc separating the two vertebrae

Within this joint, the intra-articular ligament of head of rib attaches the rib head to the intervertebral disc. Only slight gliding movements can occur at these joints, due lớn the cthua articulation of their components.

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Structure and Function

The anatomy of the Thoracic spine is related directly lớn its function. The facets & demifacets devoted khổng lồ rib articulation demonstrate the main function of the thoracic spine.

The zygapophyseal joints are tight enough to lớn protect vital organs but loose enough to allow for respiratory movements as well as khổng lồ allow the thoracic segment lớn have the greademo freedom of rotation of the entire spine.The zygapophyseal joints, as well as the relatively thin intervertebral discs, cause the thoracic region lớn have the least flexion/extension ability of the spine. Prevents downward flexion on heart & lungsThe increase in vertebral body form size as the spinal column descends is directly related to the increased weight-bearing requirement; further down the column, the greater the proportion of body mass that rests upon it.


The hollow tube formed by the bony rings on the bachồng of the spinal column surrounds the spinal cord. The bones of the spinal column protect the spinal cord.In the thoracic spine, the spinal canal is narrower than in the rest of the spine, giving very little extra space for the spinal cord as it passes through the thoracic spine.

The 12 pairs of thoracic nerves are derived from dorsal & ventral roots of their corresponding segments. These nerves

Also send motor fibers lớn muscles of the thoracic và abdominal wall and carry preganglionic và postganglionic sympathetic nerve fibers into and out of the sympathetic chain.



Several long ligaments connect on the front và bachồng sections of the vertebrae.

The supraspinous ligament, a svào fibrous cord that connects together the apices of the spinous processes from the seventh cervical vertebra lớn 3rd or 4th lumbar vertebrae.Two other ligaments run full length within the spinal canal.

Thiông chồng ligaments also connect the ribs lớn the transverse processes of the thoracic spine.

Intervertebral Disc


The intervertebral disc (IVD) is important in the normal functioning of the spine.

There are 12 in the thoracic region.IVDs allow the spine khổng lồ be flexible without sacrificing a great khuyễn mãi giảm giá of strength & provide a shock-absorbing effect within the spine và prevent the vertebrae from grinding together.They consist of three major components: the inner, nucleus pulposus (NP), the outer, annulus (AF) and the cartilaginous endplates that anchor the discs to adjacent vertebrae.Disc thickness generally increases from rostral to lớn caudal.The thickness of the discs relative sầu khổng lồ the size of the vertebral bodies is lowest in the thoracic regions. This reflects the decreased range of motion found in this region.

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The muscles of the thoracic spine are arranged in layers.

NB The Thoracolumbar Fascia (important lớn thoracic musculature) is a large area of connective tissue - roughly diamond-shaped - which comprises the thoracic và lumbar parts of the deep fascia enclosing the intrinsic baông xã muscles.

4. Muscles also connect from one rib to lớn the next. eg Muscles of Respiration


Final Remark

Now you know all about the anatomy, go on to lớn look at this page Thoracic Examination