Having a basic understanding of the parts of the thoracic spine and the role each part plays in your life can go a long way toward helping you understand and care for your back problem.
Immediately beneath the cervical vertebra reside the bones of the thoracic spine. This section of the spine starts at the base of the neck and extends to the bottom of the rib cage. Doctors refer to the vertebra in the thoracic spine as T1 through T12.
These vertebra are larger than the cervical spinal bones, and are the strongest and most stable of the spinal bones. This makes sense, because the thoracic spine is attached to the rib cage. "Spinous processes" are the bony structures that attach the thoracic section to the rib cage. Also lending to the stability of this group of bones is the fact that it has a ligament system that limits the thoracic section's range of motion. The thoracic spine is designed to stabilize the body and protect major organs.
The "anterior" of your thoracic spine refers to the front of the spine. "Posterior," understandably, refers to the back of the spine. Your thoracic spine is a complex arrangement of bones, joints, nerves, connective tissues, and muscles.
Pain in the thoracic area is less common than lower back pain, and is often indicative of some deeper issue, such as injury or scoliosis. Compression fractures in the thoracic spine can be a sign of weakness in the bone, or a problem with a disc. Often, thoracic pain has more to do with weakness of the muscle surrounding the spinal structure. Causes of this weakness can be poor posture, obesity, or sedentary lifestyle.
Injury to the thoracic spine can occur when more force is applied to the spinal column than it can withstand. These injuries result in pain, numbness, tingling and weakness.