When it comes to the health and function of your spine, you may be surprised by exactly how much each vertebra does to protect and facilitate the function of the rest of your body. We recently talked about the function of the nervous system and how your spine is a key part of it, as well as the function and importance of your cervical spine, or the vertebrae in your neck.
In today’s post, we’ll continue to move down the spine and explore the structure, role, and importance of your thoracic spine, or your upper and middle back. We’ll also talk about how a chiropractor can help you protect your thoracic spine, as well as the other vertebrae in your back.
We’ve learned that one of the main roles of the spine is to protect the spinal cord, but vertebrae serve multiple functions. The vertebrae in the thoracic spine also hold your rib cage in place, as well as protect the heart and lungs. While larger organs and the rib cage limit the range of motion in the thoracic spine compared to other spinal sections, it’s important for each vertebrae to move as freely as possible so that they can function correctly.
If you’re experiencing shortness of breath, pain in your chest or upper back, indigestion, or pain in your lower arm and hand, you could have a misalignment in your thoracic spine. Schedule an appointment with a chiropractor to identify and treat the misaligned vertebrae.
T1 & T2
The T1 vertebra meets with the C7 vertebra from the cervical spine to form the cervicothoracic junction. This vertebra is particularly important because it supports two sets of ribs.
Together, the T1 and T2 vertebrae protect the top thoracic nerves, which travel to the chest, down the arms, and into the hands.
T3, T4 & T5
These vertebrae form the upper back with spinal nerves passing through them. The nerves that come from this area of the spine travel to the chest wall and aid in breathing.
The location of the T4 and T5 vertebrae is also where the trachea splits into the two main bronchi that aid lung function.
T6, T7 & T8
These three vertebrae protect the nerves that control functions in the chest and down into the abdomen. If you’re experiencing stomach issues like acid reflux or indigestion, a misalignment in these vertebrae could be the cause. If you’re experiencing these problems, stop in and visit one of our chiropractors.
T9, T10, T11 & T12
The nerves in this area of the spine branch off into the stomach and lower back. Thoracic vertebrae start to look more like lumbar vertebrae the closer they get to the lumbar section of the spine. T11 and T12 in particular resemble lumbar vertebrae.
The thoracic spine does many things, including supporting the rib cage and facilitating the proper function of our body by protecting nerves that stem out from the spinal cord. Just how many parts of our body does the thoracic spine assist with function, though?
The upper part of the thoracic spine has contains nerves that lead to the arms from the elbows down to the hands, wrists, and fingers. Nerves also travel to:
- The esophagus and trachea
- The heart — which includes valves, coverings, and coronary arteries
- The lungs, bronchial tubes, pleura, chest, and breast
The middle of the thoracic spine protects nerves that help control the function of the gallbladder, liver, solar plexus, stomach, pancreas, and duodenum.
The lower part of the thoracic spine contains nerves that are connected to the adrenal and suprarenal glands, kidneys, ureters (in men), the small intestines, as well as lymph circulation.
All of these parts of the body can be affected by the spine if it becomes misaligned. This is because a misaligned thoracic spine can put pressure on these organs and parts of the body, as well as pinch nerves that help these parts of the body function normally.
For example, if you’re having difficulty breathing and are experiencing chest pain, you could be experiencing a misalignment in the T2–T4 section of your spine. If you’re feeling fatigued and generally unwell, your T12 vertebra may be misaligned and causing issues with your lymphatic system (which supports your immune system).
While visiting a general practitioner may help you treat the symptoms of these issues with medication, this doesn’t actually address the cause of these health problems. A chiropractor, on the other hand, can make adjustments to your thoracic spine to relieve pressure and pain in your body and associated nerves.
Protect Your Spine with Senara
At Senara Health and Healing Center & Spa in Peoria, we care about more than just the alignment of your spine — we care about your overall well-being and whether or not you’re able to live your life to the fullest. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our chiropractors.