What Nerves are in the Mid Back?
The thoracic spine has 12 nerve root pairs each corresponding to the thoracic vertebrae above it. For example, the T2 nerve is below the T2 vertebrae and above the T3 vertebrae. The final thoracic nerve root, the T12, is between T12 and L1 at the top of the lumbar spine. All 12 thoracic nerve roots exit their vertebrae through the foramen, a bony hole within the vertebral structure. The thoracic nerve roots branch out into the front and back of the body typically in this pattern:
- T1 and T2 – top of chest into the arm and hand
- T3, T4, T5 – chest wall and pulmonary structure
- T6, T7, T8 – lower chest and abdomen
- T9, T10, T11 and T12 – abdomen and lower back
The structure and function of the thoracic spine can create issues for the thoracic nerves. Inflammation, compression, degeneration, and even severe muscle strain between ribs can create symptoms for patients both in the location of the nerve root and in the areas reached by the branching nerve endings. Symptoms can include pain, weakness, numbness, tingling and in some cases, breathing difficulty.