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The Thoracic Vertebrae: A Simple Owners Manual

By Jayton Miller

Chronic back pain plagues over [16 million] adults in the United States. Back pain is not something you have to live with and learning about how the spine works, how things can go wrong, and how to support a healthy back and spine can help you avoid what so many people are facing everyday. Let’s take a look at the thoracic vertebrae and how they play a role in this in today’s article.


Structure And Function Of The Thoracic Vertebrae:

Structure and function of the thoracic vertebrae

The thoracic vertebrae are the vertebrae that lie above the lumbar spine and below the cervical spine. Consisting of 12 vertebrae they make up what is known as the thoracic spine. These vertebrae offer attachments for the ribs that sit in the same area as the intervertebral discs at the back side of the vertebrae for T2-T8.

T1 connects to the first rib and the first rib only rather that the rib connecting to two vertebrae. T9 is similar in that it only connects to the 9th rib (note this is only if the T9 lacks the bottom half connection). T10 only connect to the tenth rib. T11 only has one area for the connection of a rib head instead of two. T12 has characteristics that are similar to the lumbar spine as it is the transition point between the thoracic and lumbar spine.

Each of these vertebrae have four surfaces that allows for a synovial joint to form between them. This formation of a synovial joint helps with the mobility of the spine.

The thoracic vertebrae are different from the above cervical vertebrae in a few ways:

  • A single part rather than a two part spine
  • Facets allowing for the connection of the ribs
  • Larger vertebral canal

In general the thoracic vertebrae are larger and stronger than the cervical vertebrae but smaller and not as strong as the lumbar vertebrae (the strongest vertebrae). The main difference other than size and strength that the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae have is the ability to rotate at a significant degree.

Read More: Movement is Medicine | A Guide To Moving Better

Challenges Of The Thoracic Spine:

Issues Of The Thoracic Vertebrae


There are a few different challenges that can develop with the thoracic spine:

  • Kyphosis - abnormal curvature of the thoracic spine, also known as hunchback
  • Trauma
  • Inflammation
  • Muscular Imbalances in muscles around thoracic spine
  • Disc Herniation

Unless you are born with an abnormal curvature of the spine, prevention of thoracic pain from many of these conditions can be avoided with postural correction and intentionality.

Read More: 14 Hacks To Eliminate Inflammation Naturally

Ways To Keep The Thoracic Spine Healthy:

How To Keep Your Thoracic Vertebrae Healthy


The thoracic spine, as well as the rest of the spine, is a common place of dysfunction development over time. Some of the ways that you can prevent dysfunction are:

  • Correcting posture
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Lifting Weights
  • Walking
  • Hanging from something by your hands
  • Hanging from something by your ankles (look up “gravity boots”)

Being intentional about your posture will not only help with back pain but will have a significant impact on your hormones as well. Eating right will ensure that inflammation remains at bay and the body has the nutrients it needs to support healthy bones. Lifting weights will help increase bone density leading to less fragility as you age. Walking is good for everything, just do it. Hanging in different ways allows for spinal decompression and can release a lot of tension that builds up in the back.


Looking for a way to keep your spine healthy and moving well? Check out our UMZUfit Mobility program on UMZUfit! This program is designed to maintain and improve your strength across your joints range of motion, helping to "bulletproof" your joints over time!


Overall, back pain is an issue that many people face. Learning about how the spine works, and ways that you can support a healthy back will allow you to live a pain free life as you age. If you are looking for a good workout program or dietary philosophy make sure to check out the information we have inside of UMZUfit!