Symptoms and treatment of thoracic osteochondrosis of the spine

Thoracic osteochondrosis of the spine (GO) is rarely diagnosed, in contrast to the cervical and lumbar spine, which are found in 2-3 patients aged 18 and over. This phenomenon is explained by the particular structure of the chest area - the presence of a larger number of slices, which in turn have a finer structure. This part of the spine has little mobility and is therefore not heavily stressed because the main blow is absorbed by the sternum together with the ribs.

The main reason why the development of breast pathology begins is an increase in the load on the intervertebral discs, and therefore a violation of metabolic processes, as well as their structure. . . With such a disease, the shock-absorbing properties of the intervertebral disc are lost, the fiber ring becomes thinner, dries out, after this process the nerve endings become inflamed, the person feels constant pain, discomfort and motor activity decreases. With the rapid course of the disease, the ligaments of the spine and joints are affected.

In the meantime, many experts have made it a rule not to classify osteochondrosis according to stages, but according to degrees, which also differ in the specifics of the symptoms.

Taking into account the general symptomatology, osteochondrosis of the chest region, unlike its other types, is not as pronounced, but there is still a characteristic clinical picture. So, the patient can complain about the presence of the following signs:

  • Chest pain, often worsened with prolonged exposure in one position or at night;
  • painful feeling between the shoulder blades, while it worsens when lifting the arm or after physical exertion;
  • Discomfort, pain when trying to inhale deeply, this symptom is also noticed when exhaling;
  • when walking, there is pain in the ribs and a feeling of squeezing in the chest area.

Such manifestations can accompany a person for several weeks, which should be considered an exacerbation of the disease.

What other symptoms can be seen with HO? In addition to the main clinical picture, in some cases the following manifestations are possible:

  • Numbness of the upper extremities, a feeling of "goose bumps" running through the skin;
  • disruption of the organs of the gastrointestinal tract;
  • Feeling cold in the legs, inability to warm them.

Also, the characteristic signs of such a disease are dorsago - the appearance of sharp pains between the shoulder blades and dorsalgia - a slow pain syndrome that does not have a pronounced picture.

It should be noted that, like any other type of osteochondrosis, breast disease often affects people with an inactive lifestyle. Constant sitting at the computer, bending over, vigorous physical exertion also become a provoking factor in the development of the disease.

How does the disease manifest itself in women and men?

The development of degenerative-dystrophic processes in the chest area in patients is considered a diagnosis - thoracic osteochondrosis. This disease leads to the destruction of the intervertebral discs and malnutrition in the structures of the connective tissue. In addition, the blood circulation is disturbed because the chest area is inactive. And the pain syndrome itself occurs due to pinching of nerve endings during the progression of the pathology.

Chest x-ray showing a decrease in the gap between the vertebrae from bottom to top along the spine

As the statistical data show, HO is sometimes diagnosed more often in women than in men and, at the same time, at a younger age. The main reason for this phenomenon is the change in hormone levels when entering menopause. The trigger for the development of the disease is also osteoporosis, which is often noticed in women at the beginning of the menopause.

Therapeutic measures are developed taking into account the clinical picture of the pathology. Severe symptoms do not appear immediately, suspicion of the presence of the disease often lasts for a long time. Specifically, it is possible to make a diagnosis in the course of a pronounced picture when the symptoms have become obvious. If you have a pronounced period, you can distinguish between two types of symptoms:

  1. Development of painful sensations. . . Here we are talking about the appearance of pain in the chest area, between the shoulder blades, radiating to the area of the solar plexus. The pain syndrome can migrate to the neck area, mimicking cervical osteochondrosis, and migrate into the arm. Often women observe pain in the mammary glands, which they mistake for diseases of the breast. Pain sensations are usually not permanent, they are painful, but at the same time have no intensity.
  2. Blood pressure disorder. . . With breast osteochondrosis in women, there is such a thing as hypertensive syndrome, which is characterized by increased pressure and can provoke a hypertensive crisis. A distinctive feature of normal hypertension may be the presence of a minimal effect from the use of antihypertensive drugs. If you have had similar situations, you should also see a vertebrologist.

In addition, other signs of degenerative-dystrophic diseases of the thoracic spine must be distinguished:

  • Pain on the left side of the chest region,not associated with heart damage. . . In medical terminology, this phenomenon is called cardialgia. It is not difficult to diagnose, since if such a symptom develops, it cannot be stopped by the use of heart medication.
  • Disruption of the functioning of the digestive system. . . As osteochondrosis begins to progress, problems often begin with the internal organs, more often with the gastrointestinal tract. The most striking example is the formation of heartburn, an increase in acidity, and a constant feeling of fullness (gas). Among other things, it can lead to problems with food digestion - nausea after eating, feeling of heaviness, flatulence. Against the background of all this, the work of the stool is also disrupted - frequent constipation or diarrhea.
  • Respiratory diseases. . . Since the dystrophic process takes place in the chest area, cases of respiratory tract injury are not uncommon. All of this is accompanied by unreasonable dizziness, general weakness, shortness of breath, and other signs that may indirectly resemble heart disease or pressure problems (arterial / intracranial).

Regarding therapy, it largely depends on the signs of the pathological process. Pain relievers are prescribed for pain relief, including NSAIDs in the form of ointments or gels. During the period of exacerbation, muscle relaxants are more effective, they reduce smooth muscle spasms, relax muscles, relieve pain syndrome, the reviews of their use are positive. If the pain becomes completely unbearable, a blockade with painkillers is used.

Thoracic treatment

How exactly GO will manifest itself depends on the pathological changes that take place in the intervertebral discs. It is customary to distinguish four stages of the course of degenerative-dystrophic diseases in the chest:

  • The first. . . Symptoms are not particularly pronounced, but the process of dehydration of the intervertebral discs of the thoracic spine has already begun. As a result, they lose their elasticity and appear flatter, but at the same time they can withstand certain loads. Occasionally, painful sensations of the aching type are disturbed, but not mild, and often do not require the use of pain relievers.
  • The second. . . At this stage, negative changes affected the annulus fibrosus, various types of damage are observed - cracks, loss of stability. There are changes in the pain syndrome, it becomes more intrusive, palpable, intensifies with an increase in motor activity - bends, twists.
  • The third. . . On x-rays, the rupture of the annulus fibrosus is clearly visible and a hernia begins to form. Pain sensations become clearer, can change from a wailing character to a sharper one, intensify with movement and even at rest.
  • Fourth. . . Spondyloarthrosis actively develops against the background of the convergence of the vertebrae and the deletion of the intervertebral discs. As a result, the connective tissue of the annulus fibrosus is replaced by bone tissue, which significantly restricts motor skills.
Stages of formation of osteochondrosis of the spine

The clinical picture of thoracic osteochondrosis is such that this disease is more likely to be diagnosed:

  • pains. . . Its localization is almost always in a certain place, often on the left side. After a while, it spreads over the entire chest area, breathing becomes difficult, climbing stairs or exercising becomes difficult.
  • Increased pain. . . Strengthening occurs when turning or tilting, generally with any physical activity, the same is observed when trying to take deep breaths.
  • Muscle cramp. . . Muscle spasms add to the above symptoms, the contraction falls mainly on the upper back. In rarer cases, such a symptom is present in the lumbar area.

Separately, it is worth mentioning the intercostal neuralgia, which lasts for several weeks and then disappears on its own. During this period, a person is accompanied by discomfort in the chest, aggravated by movement, discomfort when trying to inhale / exhale deeply. Women may feel like they have problems with their mammary glands, making them think about treatment, and men may feel like a foreign object behind the breastbone.

It should also be noted that the entire clinical picture described above intensifies at night or after hypothermia. The next morning it usually gets easier, but everything repeats itself again towards evening.

How do you treat, what methods are there, what should be used? Therapeutic measures should be started as early as possible. Often in the first stages it is even possible to dispense with taking medication, but only with regular gymnastics - movement therapy.

Later stages of the development of the pathology involve the use of drugs at 2 degrees. This encompasses different groups of drugs, the most popular are listed in the table below.

Group of drugs The main effect of the drug
Pain relievers, analgesics They relieve the pain syndrome, reduce its manifestation.
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Agent (NSAID) Eliminate inflammation, relieve pain, swelling.
Chondroprotectors They increase the production of intra-articular secretions, slow down the process of cartilage destruction and reduce the manifestation of the inflammatory process.
Muscle relaxants They reduce the tone of the skeletal muscles, have a relaxing effect and help to cope with back pain effectively.
Sedatives, tranquilizers For more effective therapy, as severe pain can trigger stress, which makes the treatment less effective.

In addition to the indispensable medication, treatment with medication vitamins is recommended.

If the overall clinical picture worsens, the main goal of therapy is to relieve the symptoms. For a more pronounced and faster effect, analgesics are prescribed in the form of injections, as well as of the steroid type.

After the exacerbation is eliminated and the stability of the condition is achieved, it is necessary to begin basic therapy. A fairly wide range of drugs can be prescribed, since only a complex effect on the disease can give positive results.

The main medicines are described in more detail in the table above and then. So, the basic treatment includes the appointment of such drugs:

  • Chondroprotectors.They are used in tablet form and for local therapy in the form of ointments or gels. The use of such drugs cannot be ruled out, they are the basis for full therapy. Their action is aimed at inhibiting the process of destruction of cartilage tissue and the further progression of dystrophic changes. They also increase the ability of the cartilage to regenerate. However, it is impossible to completely get rid of the pathology with the help of such a drug, it should not be considered a panacea.
  • Vasodilator. . . They are necessary to improve blood circulation and, accordingly, nutrition in the affected area. Most often, a fairly effective drug is prescribed, which improves blood microcirculation and helps cope with pain at rest.
  • Local therapy. . . For the best effect, ointments or gels are prescribed. So, good results can only be achieved with the help of a complex action, so when prescribing NSAIDs and chondroprotectors, it is customary to recommend additional ointments from the same pharmacological groups. Creams based on bee or snake venom are also popular, they have a pronounced analgesic effect and are a good addition to the main therapy.
  • Vitamins. . . In particular, vitamins of group B are prescribed. They have analgesic properties, help with inflammatory processes and with damage to nerve endings.
  • In addition to the medicinal effect, physiotherapy, therapeutic massage and exercise therapy are necessarily prescribed.

What other therapy modalities should be included in the management of breast osteochondrosis? An experienced professional will strongly recommend the following techniques:

  • Magnetic field therapy, electrophoresis, healing mud;
  • Complex of physiotherapy exercises;
  • Acupuncture, acupressure.

It is also recommended to follow a certain diet, you should exclude the use of alcohol and spicy foods, and reduce the use of salt.

Particular attention should be paid to therapeutic exercises, they should be performed daily, and preferably several times a day. Please note that the exercise set is developed individually by the attending physician - an orthopedic surgeon or traumatologist. Physical education is carried out without an exacerbation, if there is no pronounced pain, in the case of acute pain syndrome, it is necessary to observe maximum rest.

Exercise with osteochondrosis is not the last. With this pathology, it is important to regularly perform all the prescribed exercises that will strengthen muscles and have a positive effect on the outcome of the treatment.

We should also mention traditional medicine. You can find many recipes based on natural raw materials on the Internet. It is not recommended to get carried away with folk remedies as an independent method, since their effectiveness is minimal, and in many cases, zero. However, folk remedies may be recommended as a complement to mainstream therapy. The following homemade recipes are known:

  • Ingredients for the first: 3 tablespoons of rye flour, 1 tablespoon of turpentine and a teaspoon of iodine and garlic. Mix everything thoroughly and use as an ointment in the evening.
  • For the second: 5 tablets of metamizole sodium and 5 ml of camphor alcohol. Bring the tablets to the state of a powder, then pour alcohol and apply in the form of applications overnight.

A needle applicator is considered another alternative therapy. Its action is aimed at reducing pain syndrome through needle massage.

Treatment of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine with a needle applicator

In the event that all the therapeutic methods described did not bring the desired result or turned out to be non-permanent, the question of prescribing an operation will be decided. Surgery is required if the pain syndrome cannot be eliminated, the degenerative-dystrophic process continues to develop, and at the same time negative changes in the functioning of internal organs are observed. If the doctor nevertheless recommends that you perform the operation, you should not immediately refuse. Timely intervention allows you to get rid of such a problem, fully restore the functioning of organs and exclude the further development of complications.

The surgery usually has two phases. The first is aimed at eliminating the cause - decompression, through which the pain syndrome is eliminated. The second step is the subsequent stabilization of the spine.

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic region is a serious pathology that can not only disrupt the work of the musculoskeletal system, but also negatively affect systems and organs.

It is important to monitor your own health, take preventive measures, monitor your diet, and exercise. Regular exercise is an effective prevention against osteochondrosis, but remember that any exercise should be moderate.

Treatment of the cervicothoracic type

Osteochondrosis of the cervicothoracic region is not considered an independent pathology. In this case, it is a series of disorders that occur in the intervertebral discs and can affect muscle tissue as well as neighboring organs.

Cervicothoracic osteochondrosis is anything but unusual; more than 20% of diagnoses are attributed to this disease. The disease is very insidious, the diversity of the clinical picture allows the doctor in many cases to suspect other diseases that have nothing to do with the spine. For example, a doctor may suggest the presence of angina, recommend taking a drug that, in the end, simply does not give a result and, worst of all, affects the condition of the heart system. Because of this, it is very important to distinguish osteochondrosis from pathologies of internal organs. So, the following signs are characteristic of dystrophic diseases in the area of the cervical spine:

  • regular headache;
  • Loss of strength followed by dizziness;
  • aching pains in the neck that flow into the shoulders, shoulder blades, a condition of muscle stiffness;
  • compression of the intercostal nerve roots, hence the pain syndrome, as well as its exacerbation;
  • blood pressure injuries, more common in women, from high blood pressure to hypotension;
  • decreased visual acuity, hearing aid problems (hearing loss);
  • in men, a decrease in potency with nervous overload against the background of the disease.
Computed tomography is used to diagnose osteochondrosis.

An important point is formulating the correct diagnosis, a number of diagnostic measures are required here, including: X-ray examination, ultrasound, MRI, CT.

Comprehensive treatment is mandatory and should include:

  • Medication;
  • various physiotherapy techniques;
  • Physical therapy;
  • non-traditional therapy (acupressure, acupuncture).

It is also important to pay attention to non-drug interventions, for example: reducing physical activity, which includes minimizing stress, changing mattresses, and buying an orthopedic pillow.

Atypical symptoms, sensations, and pain

In addition to the typical pains that manifest themselves in chest osteochondrosis, there are many atypical pains that cannot be associated with diseases of the spine. However, you should be aware of:

  • heart pain. . . With such a pathology, heart pain often occurs, while mimicking attacks of a heart attack. One differentiator is their duration. In contrast to real heart pain, the pain in osteochondrosis is prolonged and can last for several weeks. In addition, the use of traditional medicines does not reduce the manifestation of pain. Here it is worth thinking about the presence of another pathology that is not related to the heart.
  • imitationPathologies of the mammary glands. . . This clinical picture applies directly to patients. Often, breast osteochondrosis brings to mind breast disease, since a woman can observe pain in the chest area for a long time, spreading to the glands. Identifying the real cause of such a symptom, or at least ruling out problems with the mammary glands, is possible only after an examination by a mammologist.
  • Pain in the abdominal cavity. . . This symptom suggests gastritis and other digestive system diseases. A gastroenterologist can mistakenly diagnose pancreatitis or cholecystitis. It is possible to refute or confirm such diagnoses with the help of a thorough examination.
  • In addition to these signs, the patient may have a more pronounced oneChest discomfortdescribed as a foreign body. It is often difficult to breathe in and out deeply, the feeling that it is impossible to breathe deeply, shortness of breath with little physical activity.

The treatment of degenerative-dystrophic diseases is not easy, requires a lot of time, effort on the part of the patient and the qualifications of the attending physician.

Be sure to consult your doctor before treating any illness. This helps to consider individual tolerability, confirm the diagnosis, ensure correct treatment, and rule out negative drug interactions. If you use prescriptions without consulting your doctor, you do so entirely at your own risk. All information is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute a medical aid. You are responsible for the application.