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Thoracic Bulging Disc Treatment in New Jersey

    The pain and discomfort caused by a herniated disc in your upper back can be debilitating. The experienced spine doctors at Redefine Healthcare specialize in treating a wide range of pain-related conditions, including bulging discs. Allow the pain experts in NJ to devise an effective treatment plan for a thoracic herniated disc that includes conservative methods such as medication, rest, and controlled physical therapy. If non-operative treatment options have been exhausted and your symptoms persevere, our neuro-spine team can perform minimally invasive spine surgery to treat the root cause of your pain. Don’t wait to consult the team of spine specialists and start your way towards a pain-free and active life.

    What is a Bulging Disc?

    Between each thoracic vertebra lies a fibrocartilagenous structure called the intervertebral disc. This disc is present at all levels of the thoracic spine. The intervertebral disc is comprised of a series of outer fibrous rings (annulus fibrosis) and a gelatinous center (nucleus pulposus). The walls of the disc are thinnest and weakest posterior laterally where the spinal nerves exit the spinal column. The disc serves as a joint between the vertebrae, functions as a cushion, and allows movement between the vertebrae.

    When the outer walls (annulus) of the disc become weak the nucleus polposus can push the walls out creating a bulge. Bulging discs are common and may be asymptomatic. They can occur as part of the aging process. If the bulge does put pressure on the nerves and surrounding soft tissue it can become symptomatic.

    Inflammation, damage or degeneration of a thoracic disc can cause a range of symptoms, which vary based on the severity of the problem. Disc pathology may produce a loss of back motion, back pain, pain that radiates from the back around the ribs and chest, numbness, tingling, muscle spasm or some combination of these symptoms. The thoracic level with the highest rate of disc degeneration and bulging is T8-T12. The incidence of thoracic disc problems is far lower than in the lumbar and cervical area.

    Thoracic Bulging Disc

    Have been under the care of Dr Freeman when I started and now under Dr. Cerrelo. Both doctors have only my best interest and quality of life as their main focus. I have numerous herniated disc and other health issues that have tortured me daily. Dr. Carrillo has me on minimum medication and to a point where I can enjoy each day. Highly recommend trying them if at wits end.



    • Degeneration or general wear-and-tear breaks down the walls of the disc.
    • Repetitive bending and twisting motions, especially in combination. These motions place the most stress on the outer fibrous rings.
    • Discs are most susceptible to injury in the sitting or bending position as the pressure on the disc is displaced to the front (anteriorly) pushing the contents of the disc posterior laterally toward the thinner and weaker disc walls.
    • A sudden fall or trauma, such as a motor vehicle accident.
    • Genetic factors may contribute to the likelihood of intervertebral disc disease.

    What Are the Symptoms of a Bulging Disc?

    When a bulging disc occurs the symptoms will depend on the location of the bulge and which soft tissue structures are involved. Symptoms can vary from none at all to mild if the disc is the only structure involved, or can be more severe. Other symptoms can include:

    • Pain in the upper back or radicular to the chest and stomach area.
    • Sensory changes such as numbness or tingling if the nerve is compromised.
    • Muscle spasm and changes in posture in response to the injury.
    • Loss of motion, inability to bend and stand erect or poor tolerance to sitting
    • Sitting and bending can be difficult if the bulge is severe. Often the patient will present in a shifted posture and have difficulty finding a comfortable position.
    • A patient with a bulge may be symptom-free if the disc does not press on a sensitive soft tissue structure.

    Treating a Bulging Disc

    Treatment of a bulging disc or injury will depend on the severity of the condition. When treating acute disc or back problems treatment recommendations include:

    • Rest. Avoid activities like bending, twisting, prolonged sitting, and lifting
    • Anti-inflammatory drugs and pain medications.
    • Apply ice to the thoracic spine to help reduce pain and associated muscle spasms. Apply ice right away and then at intervals for about 20 minutes at a time. Do not apply directly to the skin.
    • An exercise regiment designed specifically to address the cause of the symptoms.
    • The use of a brace or other support may be necessary to reduce stress on the discs, muscles, and lumbar spine.

    Mild Cases

    In mild cases, patients often found that rest, ice, and medication were enough to reduce the pain. Once the pain is reduced, physical therapy is recommended to develop a series of stretching and strengthening exercises to prevent the re-occurrence of the injury. Return to activity should be gradual to prevent a flare-up of symptoms.

    Moderate to Severe Cases

    If the problem persists, consult with your health care provider. Your NJ pain relief doctor will perform a thorough evaluation to determine the possible cause of your symptoms, the structures involved, the severity of the condition, and the best course of treatment.

    Medicine Intervenes

    In addition to performing a thorough examination by our pain management specialist Dr. Freeman of NJ pain control clinic may order the following tests to make a more precise diagnosis:

    • X-ray to determine if there is any joint degeneration, fractures, bony malformations, arthritis, tumors, or infections present.
    • MRI to determine any soft tissue involvement, including visualization of the discs, spinal cord, and nerve roots.
    • CT scans can give a cross-section view of the spinal structures.
    • EMG is used to determine nerve involvement or damage.
    • A myelogram involves the injection of dye into the spinal column followed by an X-ray to visualize the position of and the pressure being applied to the discs.

    Medications to consider

    Dr. Freeman, the best NJ pain relief doctor may recommend several medication options individually or in combination to reduce the pain, inflammation, and muscle spasm that may be associated with disc injuries.

    • Over-the-counter medications for mild to moderate pain.
    • If over-the-counter medications are not effective your physician may recommend stronger prescription pain medication.
    • Anti-inflammatory drugs or prescription NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to reduce inflammation following acute injury.
    • Muscle relaxers to reduce acute muscle spasms.
    • Prescription medication is designed specifically to reduce nerve damage and pain.
    • Injections such as facet injections, nerve blocks, or epidural injections. These may involve the injection of corticosteroids to a specific structure to reduce local inflammation.

    Severe or Non-responsive Disc Conditions

    The majority of thoracic bulging discs can be treated successfully without surgery. In the case of conditions that do not respond to conservative care, surgery may be recommended. If you continue to experience some of the following symptoms, your doctor may recommend you for a surgical procedure:

    • Increase in radiating or radicular pain
    • Pain or nerve damage that gets worse
    • The development of increased weakness
    • An increase in numbness or paresthesia

    Medical Procedures

    Injections like facet injections, nerve blocks, or an epidural. These may involve the injection of corticosteroids to a specific structure to reduce local inflammation.

    • Caudal Epidural Injections
    • Facet Joint Injections
    • Interlaminar Caudal Epidural Steroid Injections
    • Transforaminal Epidural Injections
    • Medial Branch Blocks
    • Selective Nerve Root Blocks

    Surgical Procedures

    • Endoscopic Decompression
    • Endoscopic Foraminotomy
    • Percutaneous Decompression
    • IDET Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy
    • Selective Endoscopic Discectomy

    Dr. Ceraulo is a caring and professional dr who understands what you are going through. Works with your Dr. Ceaulo I would recommend you to anyone who needs help.


    Page Updated on Jan 18, 2023 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare Dr. Eric D. Freeman

    Dr. Eric D. Freeman is a top-rated, best-in-class pain management doctor. He is a nationally recognized pain relief specialist and is among the top pain care doctors in New Jersey and the country. He is an award-winning expert and contributor to prominent media outlets.

    Dr. Eric D. Freeman has been recognized for his thoughtful, thorough, modern approach to treating chronic pain. He has been named a “top pain management doctor in New Jersey” and one of “America’s Top Physicians” for advanced sports injury treatments.

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