Symptoms and treatment of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine is much rarer compared with similar pathologies affecting adjacent segments. This is due to the strengthening effect of the chest - a strong and flexible framework made of ribs supporting the intervertebral joints. Although osteochondrosis develops in this segment, it rarely reaches its final stages. The ribs partially release the load from the cartilaginous disc, preventing it from collapsing under strong and prolonged pressure.

Chest osteochondrosis often develops in men - they naturally have to do more difficult and dangerous work. But if a woman is in a similar working condition, then her risk of osteochondrosis increases dramatically. Female ligaments and muscles are naturally more flexible and expandable, which protects the weaker sex from degenerative damage to the chest.

In men, on the other hand, as adults, there is an "ossification" of all moving joints - first of all, such changes are observed in the intercostal joints. Thus, the clinical picture develops gradually, as it is associated with slow damage to the joints between the ribs and vertebrae. The sooner a person determines the first symptoms of chest osteochondrosis, the more effective and shorter the subsequent treatment.


Chest osteochondrosis is rare even without minor manifestations, but in the early stages, patients are usually unaware of the signs of the disease. All discomfort is caused by superficial fatigue, which arises as a result of long work or uncomfortable posture. But the symptoms of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine have a dangerous nature - it grows rapidly.

That is, the development of manifestations does not occur gradually, but suddenly-under the influence of external factors. Their development depends on certain mechanisms that occur in the joints between the spine and ribs:

  • Throughout a person’s life, chest movement decreases - this is due to the thickening of the connective tissue that connects adjacent bones.
  • From a long and heavy load, metabolic products accumulate in it, which causes damage to the "soft" structures - ligaments and cartilage.
  • At the intercostal joints, they begin to be replaced by bone tissue, which forms small growths at the site of the defect.
  • First, this spine begins to irritate nerve roots that emerge from the spinal cord in the neighborhood. From the effect on them, reflex contractions of the surrounding muscles occur - spasms.
  • This exacerbates the impaired movement by making the ribs less flexible and elastic. From this change, the nutrition of the surrounding tissue changes, as its blood supply declines.
  • A vicious circle gradually forms - disrupted blood flow eliminates the possibility of tissue healing quickly. If the load continues to act, then osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine gradually develops.

The rate of progression of the disease depends on the severity of the damaging factors and the ability of the body - in most patients the disease remains in its early stages until old age.

First degree

back pain with chest osteochondrosis

In the early stages, it is difficult to diagnose thoracic osteochondrosis - the symptoms of the disease are still too nonspecific. A large number of patients miss the first stage of the disease, going to the doctor only when severe symptoms arise. But with a careful attitude towards your health, the pathological signs can be easily recognized:

  1. As the soft tissue is compacted in the joint area between the ribs and the spine, its flexibility and elasticity decrease. Therefore, while doing stretching or doing exercise, there is pain and cramping in the thoracic area, which occurs between the shoulder blades.
  2. A similar sound can be heard in the clavicle or sternum, where cartilage and connective tissue also thicken.
  3. Along with them, the flexibility of the shoulder belt is impaired, which is indicated by the difficulty of placing the hands behind the buttocks. It becomes difficult for the patient to perform some movements - scratching his back, uniting the shoulder blades.
  4. There is discomfort in any part of the chest, but more often in the interscapular area. This is where most of the nerve roots coming out of the spinal cord in this part are projected.
  5. Resistance to the maintenance of prolonged physical labor and posture is reduced - a feeling of fatigue in the back quickly arises.
  6. There is a decrease in the depth of breathing - when you try to inhale deeply, the limitations are observed.

At this stage, the disease can be safely treated at home, as irreversible changes in the soft tissues in the joint area have not yet formed.

Second degree

pain in chest osteochondrosis

Although the influence of negative factors persists, the symptoms of chest osteochondrosis begin to increase - at this stage the patient usually seeks help. The disease begins to limit a person's activity - the symptoms are not only disturbing during work, but also during rest. Their occurrence is associated with the formation of continuous changes that lead to the confirmation of the costal-vertebral joints:

  1. Pain, which is the result of pressure on the nerve roots, has appeared among its symptoms. It has several characteristics - a burning or shooting character, contact with physical activity or prolonged uncomfortable posture.
  2. The unpleasant sensation is usually determined between the shoulder blades, from where it spreads along the ribs. The pain impulse is always unilateral.
  3. The intensity of these symptoms depends entirely on the movement of the trunk or respiration - even with calm breathing, an increase in pain is observed.
  4. The disease is distinguished from the usual intercostal neuralgia by the onset of symptoms - in the first case, the pain syndrome persists on its own and rapidly (within minutes). Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine is distinguished by periods of pain - they persist, decreasing only at rest.
  5. Discomfort and stiffness in the chest increase, which leads to decreased exercise tolerance. It becomes more difficult for patients to do work related to prolonged stress.

At home, it is almost impossible to get rid of symptoms at this stage - they try to use long -term medications, combined with physiotherapy procedures, for treatment.

Third degree

pain between shoulder blades with thoracic osteochondrosis

In the later stages of the disease, there is a strong deformation of the joints between the ribs and the vertebrae. This puts pressure on the surrounding ducts and nerves, which are directed to the internal organs. Therefore, the symptoms of this disease have special features that are not uncommon from other pathologies:

  1. Persistent pain syndrome, acquiring a strong and persistent character. Lumbago between the shoulder blades and along the ribs disturbs the patient even at rest, which is associated with constant pressure on the nerve roots.
  2. There are areas of sensitivity in the abdomen and chest - look like lines along the direction of the ribs. They are characterized by numbness, a tingling sensation, or "creeping".
  3. There are periodic reflex spasms of the abdominal muscles, accompanied by unpleasant sensations.
  4. Because the nerves of the internal organs are involved in the process, symptoms of their defeat may occur. Often an attack of false angina pectoris, hepatic or renal colic is observed, which simulates a similar organ disease.
  5. Chest osteochondrosis often leads to the formation of irritable bowel syndrome - a disorder of the gastrointestinal tract, the cause of which was not identified during the examination.

Even long -term treatment will not allow you to eliminate symptoms permanently if the patient persists at this stage. Supportive therapy will only reduce the symptoms of the disease, which is strong on the thoracic spine.


How to treat thoracic osteochondrosis? Help tactics based on the duration of the disease - the clearer the symptoms, the greater the degree of coverage of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine. Despite often having difficulty in prescribing medication, many patients want to undergo all treatment procedures at home. The patient does not want to waste the extra time needed from him to visit the hospital or clinic.

Also, sick leave is rarely issued for the disease, which forces people to stop from activities they have started quickly. After feeling a slight improvement, the patient recently returned to normal activities. But incomplete treatment of breast osteochondrosis results in a rapid return of previous symptoms. Therefore, patients who are too "busy" can perform some procedures at home - the main thing is that they do not give up what they have started.

At home

You can do it without going to the hospital only in the early stages of the disease, when all the changes in the spine can be reversed. With the help of several measures, it is possible to eliminate muscle spasms, which are the cause of manifestations:

  • It is necessary to change the place of rest - the bed, where the soft tissues of the spine are restored during sleep. To do this, you need to make it more rigid, buy an orthopedic mattress to exclude incorrect back position.
  • For any activity, you need to use support for the spine - a soft corset that catches the lumbar and thoracic areas. It should be worn periodically for work, last while resting or sleeping.
  • It is recommended to use a warming ointment to relieve symptoms. They are used between the shoulder blades before the next load to artificially warm up the muscles.
  • You need to get used to it - do exercise at home after waking up. Moreover, there is no need to do it only in the morning - for discomfort in the back, you need to find a few minutes to warm up.
  • You need to change your diet, increase the amount of vegetables and fruits in your diet-the vitamins they contain slow down the destruction of connective tissue.

Patients who have enough free time are advised to do physical activities - walking or swimming.


medication for chest osteochondrosis

With the development of obvious symptoms, treatment of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine begins with the help of medications. They allow you to get rid of pain and other manifestations that interfere with normal activity:

  • First of all, anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed, which have analgesic effects. They inhibit the process of soft tissue destruction, which inevitably leads to the formation of bone growth.
  • Also used are muscle relaxants - drugs that relieve painful muscle contractions. Its use allows the chest to return to its previous flexibility and mobility.
  • Next, a vitamin complex is prescribed, which aims to protect nerve tissue. They allow you to quickly restore the roots of the spinal cord, which is under stress.
  • Painkillers and anti-inflammatory can also be used in the form of creams applied between the shoulder blades. But they are usually only combined with medication to ensure synergy.

Medication usually lasts from 2 to 3 weeks, after which the patient is transferred to a treatment home.


surgical treatment of chest osteochondrosis

Surgical treatment methods are usually used when medications are ineffective. Moreover, interventions are not always radical:

  • The most commonly used restriction is the introduction of the drug directly into the lesion with a needle. Local anesthetics are usually used to relieve symptoms. After the procedure, the effect lasts for several days.
  • Blockage performed with the help of glucocorticosteroids is more effective - it provides a therapeutic effect that lasts for several weeks. The composition contains hormones that suppress the inflammatory process in the administrative area.
  • In the worst cases, surgery is performed - removal of the deformed joint area between the ribs and the vertebrae. In this way, it is possible to relieve pressure on nerve roots and blood vessels, which leads to the elimination of most of the manifestations.

Surgical correction does not result in complete cure of the disease, but only makes the patient’s condition easier. Therefore, after performing the manipulation, it is necessary to continue conservative therapy, which aims to slow the progression of the disease.


Elimination of the main signs of osteochondrosis does not indicate the end of treatment. In the post -treatment period, patients undergo rehabilitation measures:

  1. In the early period, a procedure is prescribed that has a reflex effect. Electrophoresis and phonophoresis, UHF and laser can eliminate reflex muscle contractions in the thoracic spine.
  2. Then more active procedures begin - massage, therapeutic exercises. They help strengthen the skeletal muscles of the chest.
  3. Recovery ends with independent training, which should be continued in a continuous mode. They allow you to slow the progression of osteochondrosis.

Such patients are advised to choose a sports discipline that allows them to develop endurance and muscle strength at the same time. Therefore, patients are advised to swim and race running, which allows you to create an even load on all muscles. Daily exercise is optional - three sessions a week is enough.