The thoracic spinal vertebrae consist of 12 total vertebrae and are located between the cervical vertebrae (which begin at the base of the skull) and the lumbar spinal vertebrae. The sixth thoracic vertebrae (T6), located just below the level of the shoulder blades, works in conjunction with the remaining 11 segments to protect the nerves of the spine.

Each vertebra is larger than the one above it, increasing in diameter as they run the length of the spine. The larger the segment, the more weight it is able to support. All vertebrae contain two stalks (pedicles) that envelope the vertebral foramen, which is nothing more than open space that the spinal cord runs through. Each vertebra contains additional open spaces called vertebral foramina that house smaller nerve roots.

The ribcage protects the T6. But this does not mean that injury or degeneration is impossible. Neural compression, stenosis or herniation can result in radiating pain, localized pain, instances of numbness and feelings of weakness. Because this vertebra is in close proximity to the stomach, injury or damage to the T6 may cause problems such as heartburn, dyspepsia, and indigestion.

Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
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In Depth: T6

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