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Symptoms of thoracic disk herniation vary widely. Symptoms depend on where and how big the disk herniation is, where it is pressing and if the spinal cord has been damaged.
Pain is usually the first symptom. The pain may be centered over the injured disk, but it also may spread to one or both sides of the middle back. Patients also commonly feel a band of pain that goes around the front of the chest. Patients may eventually report sensations of “pins and needles” and numbness. Others say their leg or arm muscles feel weak. Disk material that presses against the spinal cord also can cause changes in bowel and bladder function.
Disk herniations can affect areas away from the spine. Herniations in the upper thoracic spine can radiate pain and other sensations into one or both arms. If the herniation occurs in the middle of the thoracic spine, pain can radiate to the abdominal or chest area, mimicking heart problems. A lower thoracic disk herniation can cause pain in the groin or lower limbs, and it can mimic kidney pain.