Thoracic osteochondrosis

pain in the spine with thoracic osteochondrosis

Thoracic osteochondrosis, which we will consider today in our article, is one of the varieties of manifestation of osteochondrosis - a disease of the spine, as a result of which intervertebral discs with cartilage are affected in the corresponding area of its concentration. Thoracic osteochondrosis, the symptoms of which are based on concentration in the thoracic region, provokes the development of secondary changes directly in the vertebrae with a simultaneous negative effect on the work of internal organs.

Do not self-medicate. At the first sign of illness, consult your doctor.

general description

Thoracic osteochondrosis is a fairly common pathology, although it is diagnosed somewhat less often than other types of osteochondrosis. Its course can be defined as milder than in diseases such as cervical osteochondrosis or lumbar osteochondrosis (also consider these options in future articles). As for the painfulness of the manifestations, here too we can distinguish their lesser intensity.

Meanwhile, despite such a seemingly mild description of this disease, the unpleasant features in it are no exception, and the main among them is the difficulty of diagnosing this particular disease. Thus, the symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis manifest themselves similarly to angina pectoris and gastrointestinal diseases (gastritis and peptic ulcer, gastrological syndrome with colitis), or even completely similar to myocardial infarction. In addition to these conditions, "chameleon disease", as often defined thoracic osteochondrosis, in the painful manifestations can correspond to the symptoms inherent in the conditions with appendicitis, with renal colic, with cholecystitis.

Over time, thoracic osteochondrosis can cause the development of serious organ diseases, including those in the area where the pain appears, leading to confusion in diagnosing the condition (heart, organs of the gastrointestinal tract). The most serious complication, for example, is the pathology of the coronary (i. e. heart) vessels, as well as changes in the heart muscle of the dystrophic nature of the manifestation. These pathological conditions occur against the background of receptor irritation, which manifests itself in this case in the thoracic region (and in general, in the cervix), as well as with symptoms directly related to such irritation.

To understand the essence of the processes relevant to the state under consideration, it is necessary to clarify what osteochondrosis itself means in the essence of the processes occurring during it.

So, in the human spine (that is, in the spine) there are, as you know, the vertebrae, in the amount of 33-35 pieces. Separately, its vertebrae are joined together by intervertebral discs, which, in turn, are quite elastic. The intervertebral discs, in turn, consist of a nucleus and connective tissue. It is thanks to the intervertebral discs that the strengthening of the spine is ensured, thanks to which it has the appropriate strength and elasticity.

When considering osteochondrosis, in the foreground, there is damage to the connective tissue with a nucleus in the intervertebral discs, which, most likely, occurs against the background of metabolic disorders. Due to the damage that occurs in the connective tissues of the vertebrae, the discs, in turn, lose their elasticity, as well as their inherent elasticity and strength. Ultimately, osteochondrosis leads to the rupture of damaged intervertebral discs, as a result of which intervertebral hernias develop.

In addition to such a "scenario" for the development of osteochondrosis, changes in the structure of the vertebrae, which are relevant for this process, also lead to curvature of the spine. The individual vertebrae of the spine are also prone to damage. This is due to the growth of sharp bone growths along the edges of the vertebrae, thinning of the vertebrae and their deformation. The joints of the ligament of the spine also suffer, providing strength and mobility in its normal state - in this case, they are ossified.

In most cases, osteochondrosis is generally considered to be a disease that accompanies the natural aging process of the spine. Meanwhile, osteochondrosis, in contrast to other changes in the body that accompany aging, can be significantly accelerated (although the reverse process, that is, its slowing down, is not excluded), which is ensured, in particular, by the influence of factors different in their specificity. As a result, osteochondrosis (as well as its main manifestations in the previously listed areas of concentration) is considered not only as a complex of processes indicating the aging of the body, but also as a separate independent disease.

the area of ​​damage to the body with thoracic osteochondrosis

Osteochondrosis: risk factors for development

Osteochondrosis, and consequently the form of its development, has a number of factors that influence this process. We highlight the following:

  • overweight (obesity) - against the background of this state of the body, the level of load experienced by the spine also increases;
  • work / sedentary lifestyle - in this option the load experienced by the spine also increases, as a result of which muscle tone decreases, that is, it ensures the correct shape assumed by the spine, ensuring the correct posture (which, if we consider the disease, as a result, becomes incorrect);
  • smoking - due to this factor of influence on the body, the metabolic processes contained in it are disrupted, which also contributes to the development of osteochondrosis;
  • increased physical activity - in this case, we are not talking about isolated cases, but about constant exposure, due to which a dynamic and static load is provided directly on the spine;
  • posture disorders - in this context, as you can imagine, there is a pathological curvature of the spine.

Dorsago and dorsalgia in thoracic osteochondrosis

Dwelling a little more in detail on the causes of osteochondrosis (breast and other variants of it), we note that, as we examined earlier, they consist of dystrophic changes that occur directly in the tissues of the vertebrae, as well as a general deterioration of the metabolic processes caused by irrational burden and malnutrition.

Thoracic osteochondrosis itself develops due to an uncomfortable position of the body and frequent sitting, which is relevant both for working conditions in offices, and in driving a car, and in the patient's history of scoliosis, to cause of which (according to the disturbance posture point above), an uneven load is created. Pain in thoracic osteochondrosis by its nature is determined on the basis of the main accompanying symptoms that characterize this disease, are the back and back pain.

As dorsago, in particular, acute and sudden pain is defined in its manifestation, which arises, as can be assumed, directly in the thoracic region. It is observed, as a rule, in those people who are forced to sit for a long time at the table with a certain inclination in a sitting position with a strong rise, or rather, when getting up. The manifestations of pain in the back are quite painful, and it also hurts to breathe at this time. Muscle tension and limited movements are noted, concentrated specifically in the lumbo-thoracic and cervicothoracic regions.

As for back pain, it manifests itself in an imperceptible and gradual way, its duration is about two, or even three weeks. This condition is characterized by the appearance of not pronounced pains that occur in the area under examination, as well as discomfort phenomena of different intensity. An increase in pain is noted during deep breathing, bending (in different directions, forward / backward). In addition, the condition is accompanied by muscle tension with the same restriction that occurs in the cervicothoracic or lumbar-thoracic regions (depending on the concentration of pain and tension, the upper or, respectively, lower dosalgia is determined).

The mostly painful sensations intensify at night and in the morning, upon awakening, they are not at all (after a short "swinging" walk). An increase in pain is also noted at the time of deep breathing or during a long forced occupation of a certain position of the body.

Protrusion with thoracic osteochondrosis

Thoracic osteochondrosis often causes problems with the kidneys, heart and pancreas, because the spinal canal is narrow and even small bumps and hernias can cause compression of the spinal cord, against which the listed problems develop.

Before moving on to the symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis, let's dwell on what this protrusion is and how it differs from a hernia.

We have already determined that the intervertebral disc consists of a nucleus (gelatinous type) and connective tissue in the form of a fibrous ring, due to the peculiarities of which fixation in the vertebral disc is ensured. Meanwhile, some negative influencing factors can provoke a rupture of this ring, as a result of which part of the core begins to simply protrude outward. In fact, this determines the essence of the process of forming an intervertebral hernia. At the same time, it also happens that the ring does not break, but only undergoes thinning, through which the core also protrudes. In fact, such a protrusion already determines the protrusion.

Protrusion, of course, is not such a difficult diagnosis, compared to the process of formation of an intervertebral hernia, however, figuratively speaking, only one step separates from one formation to another, which can be understood already from the description of the development of both processes. The first symptoms of protrusion manifest as pain concentrated in the affected area.

Protrusion in the thoracic region, that is, with the form of the disease that interests us, with thoracic osteochondrosis, appears quite rarely, which is explained by the attachment of the ribs to the vertebrae, due to which additional stiffness is provided while simultaneously reducing the mobility of the thoracic vertebrae. Consequently, in this case, unlike cervical or lumbar osteochondrosis, excessive impact on the discs is called minimal. Meanwhile, some motor activity is present and therefore, when disc degeneration is relevant to protrusion, it still occurs. Swelling occurs in the spinal canal, resulting in the appearance of the corresponding symptoms. In turn, it is determined, as we have already found out above, by the specific place of localization of the process, including the degree of influence exerted on the nerve formations relative to the localization area.

The symptomatology of protrusion, which was also initially noticed, manifests itself in the form of pain, as well as stiffness and soreness in the back, numbness in the chest, pain in it, in the form of pain in the intercostal space and abdomen, as well as weakness of the muscles abdominal muscles. Conservative methods of treatment of protrusion in most cases determine the maximum effectiveness.

Thoracic osteochondrosis: symptoms

Given the controversial nature of the manifestations of symptoms inherent in this disease, as well as their variety, it is not so easy to determine specifically thoracic osteochondrosis, starting only from them.

Most often, the symptoms of this disease are manifested as follows:

  • intercostal pain;
  • pain in the hands (often accompanied by their numbness, tingling);
  • the appearance of pain when lifting the left / right arm;
  • pain that occurs upon inhalation / exhalation;
  • low back pain, in which a very sharp pain spreads to the fingers of the hands, which is transferred as an extremely unpleasant symptom in its manifestation;
  • numbness of the tongue (occurs in some cases of the course of the disease in patients, this determines on their part complaints about speech changes, in which the voice acquires a pronounced rudeness);
  • difficulty in trying to lean to one side or the other, made by the body.

Difficulty in breathing occurs in this case precisely against the background of intercostal pain, especially painful sensations are intense, as we have already noted, at night. In addition, an increase in pain during rotation, flexion, hypothermia, vibrations is also noted. This pain also radiates to the anterior surface of the chest, which determines the similarity to heart pain. Meanwhile, the difference from complications in terms of cardiology (especially angina pectoris) is that the pain in thoracic osteochondrosis is long-lasting, which does not correspond to pain in angina pectoris, the duration of which does not exceed five minutes. Therefore, using the same nitroglycerin used for heart pain will not help eliminate the pain.

An exacerbation of the disease is accompanied by pain in the sternum, and this condition is often diagnosed by women independently as a pathology that directly relates to the mammary glands. If we are talking about an exacerbation of thoracic osteochondrosis, then the duration of pain in this case can be on the order of several weeks.

What is noteworthy is that the increase in pain, relevant for the disease under consideration, is not related to the quality of food or dietary errors, if we consider them against the background of pathologies of the gastrointestinal tract or in general, as it is not even linked to seasonality. Meanwhile, here it is still possible to determine the connection with physical activity, as well as the time of intensification of pain - it is noted from the second half of the day. Night rest, as noted earlier, leads to the disappearance of pain.

In the event that the symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis are determined by the mechanisms and specific localization, against the background of which the pathological process develops, the disease manifests itself in the form of compression of the spinal roots. A little less often, the complications of this pathology manifest themselves in the form of compression of the spinal cord (compression myelopathy); we will consider both options for the development of these complications below in their characteristics.

Compression of root structures in thoracic osteochondrosis: symptoms

Also, this pathology is defined as radiculopathy and develops against the background of the formation of an intervertebral hernia. This hernia can appear within any level of the thoracic region of our interest, however, a hernia is most often noted in the region of the segment with the greatest mobility. What is noteworthy, the symptoms of radiculopathy appear immediately after a certain type of physical activity has been performed and, within a few weeks, the symptoms only increase in the intensity of their manifestation.

In the event that there is a connection between the manifestations of the symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis and the protrusion or hernia localized on the side of the upper segment of the thoracic spine, pains appear that are concentrated in the shoulder joint and shoulder, in the scapula, chest or in the abdominal cavity.

Mainly the symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis are determined according to the specific direction of the hernia, that is, it is a lateral hernia or a median hernia. Complicated by a lateral hernia or protrusion of thoracic osteochondrosis is accompanied by a one-sided manifestation of pain, which, by the way, can occur in combination with loss of sensation locally and pain directly at the level where the hernia is located. A lateral hernia determines the minimum symptoms of compression and their reversibility, while in this case there is an increase in pain when moving the spine, during breathing (inhalation / exhalation), during coughing.

As for the median hernia, here the pain is characterized by the duration of the manifestation and their general obstruction (that is, the possibility of a course for several weeks). In this case, the main danger of the condition lies in the possible compression of the structures, which is relevant to the spinal cord.

Compression myelopathy (compression of the structures of the spinal cord) with thoracic osteochondrosis

Although this variant of the development of the disease is quite rare, unfortunately it cannot be excluded. This condition is associated with the features of the anatomical and functional order. Symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis here are the appearance of girdle or local pain, weakness in the legs and numbness. In addition, disorders associated with the functioning of the pelvic organs are also possible. Pain, which is the main symptom of the pathology under consideration, with compression myelopathy can radiate, that is, spread to the abdomen and groin, legs and intercostal space.


Treatment of thoracic osteochondrosis determines the possible use of methods reflected in it. It is possible to restore the mobility of the back, as well as eliminate muscle hypertonicity and spasms using acupuncture (or acupuncture). This method is quite effective, and it is with its help that the work of blood vessels can be simultaneously improved, thanks to which the blood supply and nutrition of tissues in the area of the intervertebral discs are provided.

Acupuncture can also be supplemented with methods such as manual therapy, physiotherapy, vacuum therapy, moxibustion, cupping massage. The listed options are also quite effective and, moreover, they are safe. With their help, the progression of thoracic osteochondrosis can be stopped, and the intervertebral discs, after their use, can acquire normal function. A stimulation of the regenerative process concerning the tissues of the vertebrae, reduction / elimination of pain can also be provided.

Drug therapy focuses on the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; thanks to their use it is also possible to reduce the painful manifestations, simultaneously suppressing the inflammatory reactions of the affected vertebrae (which is particularly important at the time of the exacerbation of the manifestations of the disease). Using muscle relaxants will allow you to relax tense spinal muscles, significantly reducing pain once again.

In addition, traction treatment of the disease can also be applied - treatment by traction, to which the paravertebral tissues, muscles and ligaments are exposed, which helps to increase the distance between individual vertebrae. The result in the range up to 1. 5 mm is sufficient to ensure the reduction of swelling, reduction of compression, relieve muscle tension and normalize blood circulation.

Sedatives are also recommended, because due to constant pain (regardless of the form of osteochondrosis), patients become agitated and irritable, which, as a result, leads to the corresponding fatigue of the central nervous system.

Diagnosis of various forms of osteochondrosis and thoracic osteochondrosis, in particular, is carried out by a neurologist.