Symptoms and treatment of thoracic osteochondrosis of the spine

Unlike cervical and lumbar spine, which is found in every 2-3 patients aged 18 years and older, it is rarely possible to diagnose thoracic osteochondrosis (GO) of the spine. This phenomenon is explained by the special structure of the thoracic region - the presence of more discs, which in turn has a more delicate structure. This part of the spine has low mobility, and therefore the load on it is not high, because the main "shock" is received by the sternum along with the ribs.

The main reason for the onset of the development of thoracic pathology is an increase in the load on the intervertebral discs and, consequently, a violation of metabolic processes, as well as their structure.. . . In the presence of such a disease, the shock-absorbing properties of the disc are lost, the fibrous ring becomes thinner and drier, after this process the nerve endings become inflamed, the person feels constant pain, discomfort, and motor activity decreases. . With the rapid progression of the disease affects the ligaments of the spine and articular joints.

Many experts now accept osteochondrosis as a rule, not according to the stages of the course, but according to the degree to which they differ in addition to the characteristics of the symptoms.

Given the general symptomatology, osteochondrosis of the thoracic region is less pronounced than other types, although there is a characteristic clinical picture. Thus, the patient may complain of the following symptoms:

  • pain in the thoracic region, often aggravated by prolonged exposure to one position or at night;
  • pain between shoulder blades, increases when lifting arm or after physical exertion;
  • anxiety, pain when trying to breathe deeply, this symptom is also noted when you breathe;
  • There is pain in the ribs and a feeling of tightness in the chest during walking.

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

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

  • numbness of the upper extremities, the feeling of "gas sticks" passing through the skin;
  • disorders of the organs of the gastrointestinal tract;
  • feeling of coldness in the legs, inability to warm them.

Also, a characteristic symptom of such a disease is dorsago - the formation of sharp pain between the shoulder blades and dorsalgia - a slow pain syndrome that does not have a clear picture.

It should be noted that, like any other type of osteochondrosis, chest diseases often affect people who lead a sedentary lifestyle. Constant sitting at the computer, bending over, and heavy physical exertion also become a motivating factor in the development of the disease.

How the disease manifests itself in women and men

The development of degenerative-dystrophic processes in the thoracic region in patients is accepted as a diagnosis - thoracic osteochondrosis. With this disease, there is destruction of the intervertebral discs and nutrition in the connective tissue structures. In addition, the circulatory system is disrupted because the chest area is immobile. And the pain syndrome itself occurs due to compression of the nerve endings during the development of the pathology.

X-ray of the thoracic region showing a decrease in the space between the vertebrae along the spine from bottom to top

Statistics show that HO is diagnosed more often in women than in men and at a younger age. The main reason for this phenomenon is a change in hormonal levels as you enter menopause. The impetus for the development of the disease is also osteoporosis, which is often found in women at the beginning of menopause.

Therapeutic measures are developed taking into account the clinical picture of the pathology. Severe symptoms do not appear immediately, and often take a long time to suspect the presence of the disease. In particular, when the symptoms become clear, it is possible to make a diagnosis during an already clear picture. When it comes to a certain period, it is necessary to distinguish two types of symptoms:

  1. Development of painful feelings. . . Here we are talking about the formation of pain in the thoracic region, which spreads to the area of the solar plexus between the shoulder blades. Pain syndrome can migrate to the neck and arms, mimicking cervical osteochondrosis. Women often observe pain in the mammary glands and confuse them with breast pathology. As a rule, the pain is not lasting, it hurts, but at the same time there is no intensity.
  2. Blood pressure disorders. . . Women with osteochondrosis of the breast have something like hypertensive syndrome, which is characterized by an increase in blood pressure and can lead to a hypertensive crisis. A distinctive feature of normal hypertension may be the minimal effect of the use of drugs that lower blood pressure. If you encounter similar situations, you should additionally consult a vertebrologist.

In addition to the above, it is necessary to distinguish other symptoms of degenerative-dystrophic disorders of the thoracic spine:

  • Pain in the left side of the thoracic region,not associated with heart damage. . . In medical terminology, this phenomenon is called cardialgia. It is not difficult to diagnose, because the development of such a symptom can not be stopped by the use of cardiac drugs.
  • Disorders of the digestive system. . . Often, with the onset of osteochondrosis, problems begin in the internal organs, more often in the gastrointestinal tract. The most striking example is the appearance of heartburn, increased acidity and a constant feeling of swelling (flatulence). Among other things, there may be problems with digestion - nausea, heaviness, bloating after eating. Against the background of all of the above, the work of the department is also disrupted - often constipation or diarrhea.
  • Respiratory disorders. . . As the dystrophic process occurs in the chest, respiratory disorders are not uncommon. All of this is accompanied by unexplained dizziness, general weakness, shortness of breath, and other symptoms that may indirectly resemble heart pathology or pressure problems (arterial / intracranial).

As for therapy, it mainly depends on the symptoms of the pathological process. Painkillers, including NSAIDs in the form of ointments or gels, are prescribed to relieve pain. During exacerbations, muscle relaxants become more effective, reduce smooth muscle spasms, relax muscles, relieve pain syndrome, and feedback on their use is positive. When the pain becomes completely unbearable, blockers are used with painkillers.

Thoracic treatment

How accurately GO manifests itself depends on pathological changes in the intervertebral discs. It is common to distinguish four stages in the course of degenerative-dystrophic disorders of the chest:

  • First. . . The symptoms are not particularly pronounced, but the process of dehydration of the thoracic lumbar discs has already begun. As a result, they lose their elasticity, begin to acquire a flatter appearance, but at the same time can withstand certain loads. Sometimes the painful type of pain is disturbed, but not mild and often does not require the use of painkillers.
  • The second. . . Adverse changes at this stage affected the annulus fibrosus, various types of damage are observed - cracks, loss of stability. There are changes in the pain syndrome, more intrusive, palpable, intensified by increased motor activity - bending, twisting.
  • Third. . . X-rays show a rupture of the annulus fibrosus and a hernia begins to form. Feelings of pain become more pronounced, may change from a wheezing to a more severe one, intensified by movement and even at rest.
  • Fourth. . . Spondyloarthritis actively develops against the background of the convergence of the vertebrae and the removal of the discs. As a result, the connective tissue of the annulus fibrosus is replaced by bone tissue, which significantly limits motor ability.
Stages of formation of osteochondrosis of the spine

The clinical picture of thoracic osteochondrosis is that the diagnosis of this disorder is higher:

  • Pain. . . Its localization is almost always in a certain place, often to the left. After a while, it spreads to the entire chest, making it difficult to breathe, difficult to climb stairs or exercise.
  • Increased pain. . . Stiffness occurs when turning or bending, and generally the same thing is observed with any physical activity, when trying to take a deep breath.
  • Muscle spasm. . . Muscle spasm is in addition to the above symptoms, the contraction is mainly in the upper back. More rarely, such a symptom is present in the lumbar region.

Separately, intercostal neuralgia lasting several weeks and then disappearing spontaneously should be noted. During this time, a person is accompanied by chest discomfort, aggravated by movements, anxiety when trying to breathe in / out deeply. Women may have the impression that they have problems with the mammary glands, which will make them think about treatment, and in men, the feeling of a foreign body behind the breastbone.

It should also be noted that the entire clinical picture described above is exacerbated at night or after hypothermia. The next morning, as a rule, it gets easier, but in the evening everything repeats itself.

How to treat, what methods are available, what to take? When it comes to therapeutic measures, they should start as early as possible. Often, in the early stages, it is possible to do even without the use of drugs, but with regular gymnastics - exercise therapy.

The next stages in the development of the pathology, grade 2, involve the use of drugs. This includes different groups of drugs, the most popular of which are presented in the table below.

Group of drugs The main action of the drug
Analgesics, analgesics They eliminate the pain syndrome and reduce its manifestation.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) Eliminate inflammation, eliminate pain, swelling.
Chondroprotectors They increase the production of intraarticular secretions, slow down the process of destruction of cartilage and reduce the manifestation of the inflammatory process.
Muscle relaxants They reduce the tone of skeletal muscles, have a calming effect and help to effectively combat back pain.
Sedatives, sedatives For more effective therapy, because severe pain can cause stress, which worsens the effect of treatment.

In addition to the main drugs, a course of medications-vitamins is recommended.

When the whole clinical picture worsens, the main goal of therapy will be to eliminate the symptoms. For a clearer and faster action, analgesics are prescribed in the form of injections, as well as steroids.

Once the exacerbation has been resolved and the condition has stabilized, basic therapy should be started. A wide range of drugs can be prescribed, because only a complex effect on the disease can give positive results.

The main drugs are described in more detail in the table above. Thus, the main treatment includes the appointment of such drugs:

  • Chondroprotectors.They are used in tablet form and in the form of ointments or gels for topical therapy. It is impossible to rule out the use of such drugs, they are the basis for a complete therapy. Their action is aimed at preventing the process of destruction of cartilage tissue and the further development of dystrophic changes. In addition, they increase the regenerative capacity of cartilage. However, with the help of such a drug it is impossible to completely get rid of the pathology, it should not be considered a panacea.
  • Vasodilator. . . They are needed to improve blood circulation and nutrition in the affected area. Often a fairly effective drug is prescribed, which improves blood microcirculation and helps to cope with the pain that occurs at rest.
  • Local therapy. . . Ointments or gels are prescribed for the best effect. Thus, good results can be achieved only with the help of a complex effect, so when prescribing NSAIDs and chondroprotectors, it is customary to recommend the addition of ointments of 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, B vitamins are prescribed. They have analgesic properties, help to cope with inflammatory processes and with the destruction of nerve endings.
  • Undoubtedly, in addition to the drug effect, a course of physiotherapy, therapeutic massage, exercise therapy is prescribed.

What other therapies should be included in the treatment of thoracic osteochondrosis? An experienced specialist will recommend the following techniques:

  • magnetotherapy, electrophoresis, therapeutic mud;
  • complex of physiotherapy exercises;
  • acupuncture, acupressure.

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

Therapeutic exercises should be given special attention, daily and preferably several times a day. Keep in mind that the set of exercises is prepared individually by the attending physician - orthopedist or traumatologist. Physical training is carried out in the absence of aggravation, in the absence of acute pain, during acute pain syndrome, maximum rest should be observed.

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

We should also mention traditional medicine. You can find many recipes based on natural ingredients on the Internet. It is not recommended to engage in folk remedies as an independent method, because their effectiveness will be minimal and in many cases zero. However, in addition to the main therapy, folk remedies may be recommended. The following homemade recipes are known:

  • Ingredients for the first: 3 tablespoons rye flour, 1 tablespoon turpentine and a teaspoon iodine and garlic. Mix everything well and use as an ointment at night.
  • For the second: 5 tablets of metamizole sodium and 5 ml of camphor alcohol. Make the tablets into a powder, then pour the alcohol and apply overnight.

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

Treatment of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine with a needle applicator

If all the described methods of therapy do not give the desired result or are not long-term, it is decided to prescribe surgery. Surgery is necessary when it is impossible to eliminate the pain syndrome, when the degenerative-dystrophic process continues to develop, as well as when there are negative changes in the functioning of internal organs. If your doctor still recommends surgery, you should not refuse immediately. Timely intervention will allow to get rid of such a problem, to fully restore the function of the organs and to rule out further complications.

The operation usually consists of two stages. The first is aimed at eliminating the cause - decompression, which eliminates the pain syndrome. The second stage is the subsequent stabilization of the spine.

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic region is a serious pathology that not only disrupts the functioning of the musculoskeletal system, but also adversely affects systems and organs.

It is important to monitor your health, take preventive measures, follow your diet and be smart in physical activity. Regular exercise is an effective prevention of osteochondrosis, but keep in mind that any load should be moderate.

Treatment of cervicothoracic type

Osteochondrosis of the cervicothoracic region is not considered an independent pathology. In this case, we are talking about a number of disorders that appear in the intervertebral discs and can affect muscle tissue, as well as nearby organs.

Cervicothoracic osteochondrosis is not uncommon, with more than 20% of diagnoses. The disease is very insidious, the diversity of the clinical picture often makes the doctor suspect other diseases not related to the spine. For example, a doctor may suggest the presence of angina pectoris, recommend taking medication, which will simply not work and, worst of all, will adversely affect the condition of the heart system. For this reason, it is very important to distinguish osteochondrosis from pathologies of internal organs. Thus, the following symptoms are characteristic of dystrophic disorders in the cervicothoracic region:

  • frequent headaches;
  • loss of strength, followed by dizziness;
  • aching pains in the neck, flowing to the shoulders, shoulder blades, muscle stiffness condition;
  • compression of the intercostal nerve roots, and therefore the pain syndrome, as well as its exacerbation;
  • blood pressure disorders, from hypertension to hypotension, may be more common in women;
  • decreased visual acuity, hearing problems (hearing loss);
  • in men, a decrease in potency with nerve overload in the background of the disease.
Computed tomography is used to diagnose osteochondrosis.

An important point is to make a correct diagnosis, which will require a number of diagnostic measures, including: X-ray, ultrasound, MRI, CT.

Complex treatment is mandatory and should include:

  • medicines;
  • various physiotherapy methods;
  • physiotherapy;
  • non-traditional therapy (acupressure, acupuncture).

It is also important to pay attention to non-medical measures, for example: to minimize the load, to reduce physical activity, including changing the mattress and buying an orthopedic pillow.

Atypical symptoms, sensations and pains

In addition to the typical pain that manifests itself in thoracic osteochondrosis, there are many atypical pains that are not associated with diseases of the spine. But you should be aware of these:

  • Heartache. . . Often with such a pathology, heart pain appears while mimicking heart attack attacks. One of the distinguishing features is their duration. Unlike real heart pain, the pain with osteochondrosis is prolonged, which can be bothersome for several weeks. In addition, the use of traditional medicines does not reduce the appearance of pain. 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, thoracic osteochondrosis makes a person think about breast disease, because a woman can observe pain in the chest for a long time, it spreads to the glands. Only after a mammologist's examination is it possible to determine the true cause of such a symptom, or at least to rule out problems with the mammary glands.
  • Pain in the abdomen. . . This symptom is suspected of gastritis and other diseases of the digestive system. By mistake, a gastroenterologist may diagnose pancreatitis or cholecystitis. Such diagnoses can be refuted or confirmed with a thorough examination.
  • In addition to these symptoms, the patient may feel pronunciationchest discomfortdescribed as the presence of a foreign body. It is often difficult to breathe deeply or to breathe, the feeling of not being able to breathe deeply, shortness of breath with little physical activity.

Treatment of degenerative-dystrophic disorders is not easy and requires a long time, the patient's efforts and the skills of the attending physician.

Be sure to consult your doctor before treating the disease. This will help to take into account individual tolerance, confirm the diagnosis, make sure the treatment is correct, and rule out adverse drug interactions. If you use prescriptions without consulting your doctor, then the risk is on you. All information is provided for informational purposes only and is not medical assistance. All responsibility for the application is on you.