Although relatively uncommon, thoracic herniated disc is a workers’ compensation injury we see on a regular basis in our office. Often referred to as a slipped disc, the thoracic disc doesn’t actually slip out of place. Rather, the term herniation means that the material in the center of the disc has squeezed out of the normal space. In the thoracic spine, this condition mostly affects people between 40 and 60 years old. In workers compensation we see herniated thoracic discs most often after a traumatic fall off a ladder or scaffold, but we have had serious cases involving motor vehicle collisions, blows from falling debris and being pinned between machinery.

The human spine is formed by 24 spinal bones, called vertebrae. Vertebrae are stacked on top of one another to create the spinal column. The main section of each vertebra is a round block of bone, called the vertebral body. The thoracic spine is made up of the middle 12 vertebrae. Doctors often refer to these vertebrae as T1 to T12. The thoracic spine starts at the base of the neck. The upper half of the thoracic spine is much less mobile than the lower section, making disc herniation in the upper thoracic spine rare. About 75 percent of thoracic disc herniation occur from T8 to T12, with the majority affecting T11 and T12.

The intervertebral disc is a specialized connective tissue structure that separates the vertebral bodies. The disc is made of two parts. The center, called the nucleus, is spongy. It provides most of the disc’s ability to absorb shock. The nucleus is held in place by the annulus, a series of ligament rings surrounding it. Ligaments are strong connective tissues that attach bones to other bones.

Healthy discs work like shock absorbers to cushion the spine. They protect the spine against the daily pull of gravity and during activities that put strong force on the spine, such as jumping, running, and lifting.

The spinal canal is a hollow tube inside the spinal column. It surrounds the spinal cord as it passes through the spine. The spinal cord is similar to a long wire made up of millions of nerve fibers. Just as the skull protects the brain, the bones of the spinal column protect the spinal cord. The spinal canal is narrow in the thoracic spine. Any condition that takes up extra space inside this canal can injure the spinal cord.

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin McCormick Law Office represents injured workers with thoracic herniated disc or disc bulging as a result of a traumatic injury or job duties over time, for lost wage benefits and permanent disability benefits. Believe in better.