Diagnosis and therapy of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine

Breast osteochondrosis is a common degenerative disease. There are specific symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis that indicate the onset of the pathology. At the initial stage, the discomfort does not bother the patient very much, so he is in no hurry to seek help from a specialist. Over time, the symptoms intensify, forcing the patient to go to the doctor, where neglected pathology is found. You should find out what early signs will diagnose osteochondrosis and what treatments are most effective.

What is thoracic osteochondrosis and how does it develop?

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic region is characterized by the appearance of destructive-dystrophic processes in the middle section of the ridge. The destruction is between the 8th and 19th vertebrae. To find out which vertebra is affected, it is necessary to conduct accurate diagnostic studies. Osteochondrosis of the chest region is often accompanied by formidable complications, including prolapse or hernia. Without complications, the disease is rare, since the destruction of cartilage tissue inevitably leads to the destruction of the entire vertebral framework.

When a patient develops a circulatory disorder or age-related wear and tear of the joints, the fibrous ring in the cavity of the intervertebral disc begins to collapse and lose its normal structure. Since the destruction is slow, microcracks appear in the initial stage through which the nucleus pulposus seeps.

As the inner component emerges, the annulus fibrosus begins to weaken, causing it to gradually stretch and rupture. When the nucleus pulposus protrudes, an intervertebral hernia occurs, which is the most common complication of osteochondrosis. Pathology involves damage to the cartilage tissue, which causes significant discomfort. Severe back pain is also associated with neurological syndromes caused by pinching or irritation of the nerve roots.

Symptoms of chest osteochondrosis

At the initial stage, the patient does not feel any discomfort, so at this stage the disease can only be detected by chance. The disease has many symptoms that can be disguised as other pathologies.

Symptoms of breast osteochondrosis can be felt through the following manifestations:

  1. It is difficult to breathe. Problems occur which are manifested as shortness of breath and a feeling of shortness of breath. This indicates damage to the thoracic vertebrae and spinal cord.
  2. The main symptom is chest pain. There is also an oppressive feeling in the heart that is more reminiscent of an ischemic attack.
  3. Discomfort occurs when the back bends. As the disease progresses, the pain in this position increases.
  4. Against the background of deteriorating blood flow, there is a sensation of cold in the lower or upper extremities.
  5. Chest pain against the background of emerging intervertebral hernias. Discomfort is often felt more on the left or right side of the affected area.
  6. Sore throat and difficulty swallowing. When the nerve endings in the upper part of the chest region are irritated, a cough occurs.
  7. Women may experience chest pain that is unrelated to cyclical changes or hormonal imbalances.
  8. A tingling or burning sensation occurs in the legs and feet.
  9. Hair and nails become brittle and dull.
  10. Herpes zoster occurs less often.
  11. Back and chest pain occur at the same time.
  12. Symptoms in the stomach, liver or pancreas are less common.
  13. The onset of stiff pain in the ribs indicating intercostal neuralgia.
  14. There are signs of chondrosis and compression of the chest - a similar pathology.
  15. There are problems with the work of the gastrointestinal tract. Feels nausea, heaviness in the stomach.
  16. In men, some libido can drop. Problems arise in the genitourinary area.
  17. When standing or sitting for a long time, severe discomfort occurs.
  18. There is a severe headache, accompanied by dizziness. Migraines with aura can occur.
  19. The patient often develops intercostal neuralgia.
  20. The pain can radiate to the neck or lower back.

If in the entirety you find thoracic osteochondrosis and its signs or some of them, you urgently need to consult a therapist, neurologist or orthopedic surgeon. Such symptoms should also be warned if there are no problems with the gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular system and lungs.

There are also acute and subacute symptoms. If, during an exacerbation of osteochondrosis of the chest region, the patient experiences severe pain, which deprives the patient of the ability to work, and he can only observe bed rest, the subacute course is sluggish and does not significantly limit the patient's motor activity.

A clear sign of a sluggish lesion - there is no acute pain. Symptoms in the subacute stage are cleared. No discomfort with basic body movements, including breathing, sneezing, or turning. A person does not suffer from pain in a dream, so it is easier to fall asleep.

So that the subacute course of the disease does not worsen and go into remission, important rules must be observed:

  1. It is forbidden to lift weights.
  2. You cannot bend down sharply.
  3. Sitting or standing for long periods is prohibited. Often times, a person in this condition unconsciously adopts a harmful posture to the spine, putting excessive strain on the comb, causing another exacerbation.
  4. Avoid hypothermia. It has been proven that failure to observe a temperature regime that is comfortable for the body leads to an exacerbation of the inflammatory process. Moisture is also harmful to the joints.

The duration of the subacute course is individual. If you follow the medical recommendations, the patient will completely get rid of the discomfort within 2-3 weeks. If conservative treatment and rest do not help, and the patient suffers from nausea, dizziness and weakness, it is urgent to see a specialist. Such symptoms indicate another exacerbation.

Degrees of development of osteochondrosis of the thoracic region

There are 4 clinical stages of the disease, at the onset of which the patient develops signs of pathology:

  1. There are no clinical symptoms in the early stages. The first stage occurs against the background of the appearance of destructive processes in cartilage and bone tissues. In the first stage, there is no rupture or stretching of the fiber ring, so there are no hernias either. You can see initial bulges and signs of cartilage degeneration.
  2. In the second stage, there is slight pain or discomfort. An attentive patient seeks a doctor, so osteochondrosis of the chest region is recognized immediately. People who do not want to see a specialist can still endure the second phase with available funds, but self-medication will not be enough for a long time. At this stage, the most common neurological symptoms may appear, including headache, burning sensation in the interscapular zone, neck pain, and increases in blood pressure. At this stage, too, there is an increase in degenerative destruction in the spine: the fibrous ring protrudes, which leads to the appearance of an intervertebral hernia of the thoracic region.
  3. Even the third stage is difficult for the patient. Persistent neurological syndromes develop, including constant referred pain in the shoulder blades, arms, collarbones, and lower back. The patient may have somatic and autonomic disorders that indicate a disturbance in the functioning of the nervous system. The patient is often tormented by nausea, incessant headache, dizziness, back pain. There may also be hidden cardiac, gastroenterological, or pulmonary signs of the disease. At this stage, bone and cartilage tissue is actively demineralized. There is a tendency to injury.
  4. The last stage is the fourth. Against the background of osteochondrosis and hernia, irreversible consequences appear - the mobility of the intervertebral discs is completely lost, and cartilage tissue is replaced by osteophytes instead of a long course of inflammation. Surgery is required to remove them.

In order not to bring the body into a state similar to stage 3 or 4, it is better to see a doctor at the slightest sign. The sooner the disease is recognized and therapy started, the faster the patient will return to normal and learn to live with osteochondrosis. The pathological process of destruction cannot be stopped completely, but it can be slowed down through a healthy lifestyle, the use of medicines and daily gymnastics. The later the patient turns to the doctor, the more difficult it is to stop the severe pain syndrome that accompanies the degeneration of cartilage tissue.

Risk factors and causes of the disease

There is no specific reason that causes destructive changes in the spine. An important role in the appearance of the pathology is attributed to a hereditary factor. It has been shown that people who suffer from physical inactivity are more likely to have problems with the comb than people who exercise regularly. Excessive physical activity can also provoke cartilage destruction at an early age.

The thinning and destruction of the intervertebral discs is closely related to the overloading of the spine. If the muscles are not strong enough and the back is regularly overloaded, the cartilage tissue is destroyed.

What reasons can cause osteochondrosis:

  1. Obesity. If you are overweight, there is strong weight pressure on the spine. As a result, there is premature destruction of bone tissue.
  2. The presence of an abnormality in the structure of bones and cartilage. Such problems are also laid during intrauterine development.
  3. Congenital asymmetry of intra-articular gaps in the intervertebral joints of the tropism anomaly type, which contributes to the appearance of a degenerative-dystrophic process in the spine.
  4. The presence of muscle spasms, spondylosis, chronic persistent trigger points and vascular diseases in the chest area. These pathologies also contribute to the appearance of osteochondrosis of the chest region.
  5. Prolonged vibration exposure of the spine in a sitting position. A working example is a minibus or bus driver.
  6. Frequent physical exertion from heavy lifting. Examples are work as a loader or professional sporting activities.
  7. Smoking and alcohol abuse. People with an unhealthy lifestyle are more likely to have a lack of minerals in their body and poor blood circulation, which leads to back problems.
  8. Sedentary lifestyle. With insufficient physical activity, there is an accelerated leaching of calcium, which is associated with poor metabolic processes. This makes the bones brittle. In addition, the muscle tissue atrophies, which greatly increases the load on the spine. The result is pain, frequent complaints with minimal physical exertion.

The intervertebral discs give the ridge sufficient mobility. The intervertebral discs play a shock-absorbing role. With the development of osteochondrosis, there is an accelerated demineralization process, vital moisture from the joints is lost. This leads to discomfort, decreased mobility of the spine.

Risk factors for breast osteochondrosis are:

  1. Advanced age. Natural degeneration occurs in the elderly, so the disease is more often detected after 40 years.
  2. Female. In girls, there are periods that contribute to the active leaching of calcium from the bones - pregnancy and menopause. Spinal disorders can occur without adequate pharmacological support.
  3. The presence of hormonal disorders, endocrinological diseases. Disc degeneration can occur at a young age in patients with diabetes mellitus or uncompensated hypothyroidism.
  4. Longer immobilization. If the patient is sick and has to lie down for a long time, atrophic processes occur in the muscles that cause back pain.
  5. Previous back injuries. If the ligaments and tendons are stretched, the risk of osteochondrosis in the chest area increases.
  6. The presence of scoliosis. Bad posture in the future leads to serious spinal problems, including osteochondrosis and hernia.

Diagnosis of thoracic osteochondrosis

If the patient suspects back problems, it is necessary to consult a therapist. The doctor conducts a general examination of the patient, asks about complaints, measures the blood pressure. If a neurological problem is suspected, the patient is referred to a close specialist - a traumatologist, neurologist or orthopedic surgeon.

When making an appointment with a specialist, they also ask about complaints and carry out an initial diagnosis of the patient. Based on a visual examination, a number of diagnostic measures are prescribed, including:

  1. Radiography. With the help of an X-ray, you can generally assess the condition of the skeletal system. If the patient has a hernia or osteochondrosis, evidence of pathology can be found - the distance between the intervertebral discs is reduced, and sometimes darkening is noted at the site of the alleged rupture. If the results of the picture do not match the specialist, the cause of the pain and discomfort must be further searched for.
  2. CT or MRI. The most accurate diagnostic methods that will allow you to carefully examine the condition of the focus of inflammation in the image. A more detailed picture can be seen on MRI, but if there are contraindications (the presence of a pacemaker or prostheses in the joints), computed tomography is prescribed. CT is an enhanced x-ray that allows you to see bones, tendons, and ligaments in detail. The image reproduces the image in the form of a three-dimensional image so that the details of the damage are clearly visible.
  3. Biochemical and general blood test. These analyzes are necessary to assess the patient's state of health. If an increase in leukocytes, ESR, is detected, it indicates an active inflammatory process in the body. When bone tissue is actively destroyed, blood calcium levels are lowered and there is a deficiency in cholecalciferol (vitamin D3).
  4. Spine scintigraphy. The research method shows active destruction of bone tissue. Weak bone tissue is very susceptible to fragility. The method shows the tendency and signs of degeneration.

To diagnose the disease, you need to go to an experienced specialist. A complete clinical picture, taking into account several laboratory research methods, is required for the final diagnosis.

Thoracic osteochondrosis of the spine requires differentiation along with the following pathologies:

  1. Dyshormonal spondylopathy.
  2. Urinary system pathologies, including urolithiasis, cystitis, or pyelonephritis.
  3. Cardiovascular diseases, excluding sinus arrhythmia, tachycardia and angina pectoris.
  4. Gastrointestinal disorders, including chronic pancreatitis, gastric and duodenal ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome.
  5. Previous injuries, fractures.
  6. Tumors in the breast, including a malignant course.
  7. Rheumatoid arthritis (determined by a blood test for C-reactive protein, rheumatoid test and ESR).
  8. Spinal osteomyelitis.
  9. Acute inflammatory process.
  10. Ankylosing spondylitis.
  11. Spondylolisthesis.

Treatment of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine

An integrated approach to therapy is required to slow the progression of the disease. At the initial stage, only conservative therapy is shown, which consists of the use of drugs and physiotherapeutic methods of treatment. In advanced cases, when the patient has large hernias and extensive bone loss, surgery is prescribed. No self-medication at home. Folk remedies do not eliminate osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine.

In which cases do you operate?

The initiated osteochondrosis of the chest region has a negative effect on the patient's quality of life. If the patient constantly has ailments that interfere with normal life, then, taking into account the lack of effect of drug treatment, a surgical solution to the problem can be offered.

The absolute indications for an operation are:

  1. Lack of sensitivity in the bladder and intestines.
  2. When the sensitivity in the legs disappears and the patient loses the ability to move independently.
  3. Paralysis from excessive hernia growth.

In other cases, the patient makes the decision to independently remove the hernia formation. If the disease brings really severe agony, and against the background of conservative treatment, the patient's condition does not improve, then doctors recommend surgery.

Drug treatment of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine

During the exacerbation, the attending physician prescribes various drugs that are necessary to relieve the inflammatory process. The acute phase is characterized by severe pain that can only be relieved with medication. When enough medication is taken, the patient is better off. Only an experienced specialist can prescribe medication, self-medication is not acceptable.

The following drugs are used to treat osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine:

  1. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, pain relievers, or analgesics. These drugs are designed to quickly relieve back pain associated with an active inflammatory process. The effects of taking pills or injections can be felt the next day. Long-term use of drugs from the NSAID group is associated with side effects. Therefore, experts recommend limiting the use of medication to the minimum period of no more than 1-2 weeks. Pain relievers are the most harmful to the lining of the stomach, causing gastropathy and inflammation. Patients at risk are given certain drugs to protect the gastrointestinal mucosa. Examples are proton pump inhibitors, H2-histamine receptor blockers, and antacids. People with ulcers and gastritis should better refrain from taking NSAIDs or take modern analogues with a selective effect.
  2. Muscle relaxants. These drugs are very effective in treating spasm of the muscles. Relieves pain associated with muscle tension. They act on trigger points that are located in the pinched muscle tissue. The more overwhelmed a person, the higher their number. Muscle relaxants are good at relieving tension in the muscles and therefore have an analgesic effect. You need to take drugs in one course, the average duration of therapy is at least 2-4 weeks.
  3. Vitamins of group B. Assign B1, B6, B12 in the form of injections with a combined composition. In high doses, these substances have an analgesic effect and have a positive effect on the nervous system. Neurotrophic drugs are effective in treating pain associated with pinched nerve roots. With the help of nutrition, it is impossible to replenish the norm of these substances necessary to achieve a therapeutic effect, so they are prescribed in the form of medicinal products. The average duration of an injection cycle is 2-3 weeks. Then they switch to tablets if necessary.
  4. Anti-inflammatory ointments, gels. If the pain is tolerable and systemic forms of NSAIDs are contraindicated, external drugs are prescribed. The advantage of external remedies is that they do not cause any side effects. In rare cases, skin allergies may occur, but the ointment does not cause gastrointestinal or laboratory blood deterioration. Another advantage of outdoor products is the possibility of long-term use. You can massage the gels in for up to 4 weeks, after which they take a break. The scheme and duration of therapy are determined by the attending physician.
  5. Honor protectors. These are complex substances that are used to nourish the cartilage tissue of the joints. It is necessary to use drugs for a long period of at least six months, after which they take a break of 2-3 months and the course of therapy is repeated. Injectable forms of release are used within 2-3 months because they are better absorbed. Then they switch to supportive care, including the use of tablets. It is important to understand that drugs do not stop the destruction of cartilage tissue. They just create extra nutrition that slows down the degenerative processes in the bones and joints.
  6. Complex preparations of calcium and vitamin D3. It has been proven that residents of northern latitudes are not getting enough vitamin D3 because solar activity in this region is low all year round. To get rid of hypovitaminosis, it is necessary to take cholecalciferol supplements in courses in winter and autumn, while solar activity is minimal. Without this vitamin, the absorption of calcium and other minerals is impossible. Due to a long-term calcium deficiency, bone tissue thinning occurs over time, so a person suffers from osteochondrosis and other complications. Calcium and D3 are better absorbed in combination, so complex preparations are prescribed. The dose and course of administration should be prescribed by the attending physician.

As a complement to treatment, homeopathy, anticonvulsants, and complex multivitamins can be prescribed.

Conservative therapy for breast osteochondrosis

During the recovery period, the patient should pay adequate attention to rehabilitation. The more carefully the patient maintains health, the less often the disease attacks occur.

Some of the most effective conservative treatments include:

  1. Exercise therapy. With the help of exercises, the patient learns to keep the back straight, strengthens the muscle corset. Physiotherapy can be done several times a week at any age. The complex is selected individually, taking into account the anatomical features of the patient. Start executing gradually, spending no more than 5 minutes a day at first. As the physical qualities improve, the patient learns to do more difficult exercises for a longer period of time.
  2. Supportive corset. Anatomical aids are used to support weakened muscles when there are contraindications to strengthening them. The patient chooses a bandage depending on the level and type of appointment. The attending physician must select the appropriate model. Wearing times and patterns are assigned individually. You cannot wear a corset around the clock, otherwise your back muscles will become even weaker.
  3. Massage. In medical practice, massage is one of the most popular and at the same time most effective methods of conservative treatment for osteochondrosis of the chest region in a patient. During the recovery phase, the muscles need additional support. It is useful in temporarily improving blood flow and releasing overstretched muscles with the right technique. In courses, you have to attend specialist meetings several times a year.
  4. Physical therapy. Physiotherapeutic procedures are widely used in traumatic, orthopedic, and neurological practice. With the help of procedures, local blood flow is improved, systemic drugs are used externally, and the apparatus acts on damaged tissues. This warms up the muscles and eliminates the chronic inflammatory process in the affected area. Examples of medical procedures - magnetic therapy, shock wave therapy, electrophoresis.

Manual therapy and acupuncture are less common.

Chest osteochondrosis is a serious condition when it starts. To prevent acute progression of the disease, it is necessary to comprehensively treat the pathology.