What is osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine: symptoms and treatment

Osteochondrosis is a leading cause of back pain. The thoracic spine is less frequently affected than other parts, initially less mobile. Due to the lack of characteristic symptoms, degenerative diseases are more difficult to diagnose. Unpredictable treatment leads to serious consequences.

Stages and symptoms of osteochondrosis

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine

Dystrophic lesions of bone and cartilage tissue are the most common chronic human diseases. The pathological process begins with the nucleus of the intervertebral disc, then spreads to the annulus fibrosus. Atrophic cartilage loses its protective properties, and the load on the bone increases. The gap between the vertebrae is reduced, protrusions and hernias appear, nerve endings are pinched.

Pathological symptoms:

  • dorsalgia (pain in the back), exacerbated by body movements, palpitations, deep breathing and coughing;
  • discomfort in the left sternum, shortness of breath, a feeling of a lump in the throat;
  • excessive sweating;
  • numbness of the skin and limbs;
  • painful sensation in the xiphoid process, extending to the shoulder blades and arms;
  • dorsago - acute pain in the chest when in one position for a long time.

Irritation of receptors in the spine in the chest area is indicated by impulses that mimic heart disease. This pseudo-coronary pain is called anterior chest wall syndrome. The aching pain on the left side lasted for weeks, it did not relieve the heart medication. At the same time, the ECG did not show a violation in the work of the organ.

The symptoms of the disease are often similar to other pathologies. Patient complaints may indicate heart failure or gastrointestinal problems. Only a comprehensive examination will help establish the correct diagnosis.

The clinical picture of the disease varies depending on the form of compression or the compressive form of osteochondrosis. When nerve endings are squeezed (compressed), pain, numbness, muscle weakness, and difficulty moving appear. The non -compressive form is indicated by acute or chronic pain syndrome in the damaged area of the spine, as well as reflex pain in the area of the heart, abdomen, liver. The clinical signs of pathology vary depending on the stage of the disease and the age of the person.

Symptoms of non -typical breast osteochondrosis include sensation in women with pain in the mammary glands, brittle nails, and peeling skin. The disease is triggered by pregnancy. At this time, the female body experiences increased stress on the spine and a lack of nutrients.

In men, compression of the nerve root in the lower part of the thoracic region causes discomfort in the groin area, pain in the kidneys.

Stages of osteochondrosis

Depending on the condition of the cartilage tissue, 4 degrees of the disease are distinguished:

  • 1 degree - in the early stages of the disease, cracks appear in the annulus fibrosus. The nucleus pulposus protrudes through them. There is an unpleasant sensation in the sternum, heart. This stage is characterized by pulling pain and muscle spasms.
  • 2 degrees - the condition is exacerbated by pathological movements of the vertebrae. The sign of this level is pain that increases when moving and being in one position for a long period of time. Spinal deterioration may occur.
  • Grade 3 - the structure of the spinal space is severely damaged, the fibrous ring is completely ruptured. Defeat of nerve endings leads to intercostal neuralgia. A person's mobility is limited, he takes a forced posture. Pain radiates to internal organs, abdomen, limbs.
  • 4 degrees - structures around the spine are involved in pathological processes. Excessive scar tissue growth causes ligament fibrosis. Severe neurological reactions require the use of regular supportive medications.

Early diagnosis of the disease can slow the destruction of the intervertebral disc. In the early stages, treatment is more effective. With prolonged back pain and other symptomatic manifestations of osteochondrosis, you should see a neurologist.

Delayed hospital visits lead to dangerous complications. These include herniated discs, inflammation of nerve endings, osteophyte proliferation, paresis. With the growth of bone formation, there is a great danger of damage to the tissues of the spinal canal. The dystrophic process that is launched is the complete destruction of the vertebrae. Patients can only be helped with surgery.

Causes and risk factors

The moving cervical and lumbar spines are often affected by this disease. The thoracic region is reinforced with ribs, which reduces the risk of pathology, but does not exclude its appearance. The disease can occur at any age. The ICD code 10 is M42. 14 - osteochondrosis of the spine in adults with localization in the thoracic region. For adolescent patients, there is a separate code - M42. 0. Poor posture, kyphosis or scoliosis are factors that provoke the onset of the disease in young people.

The main cause of this disease

Degenerative changes in the intervertebral disc occur with inadequate nutrition. The nucleus pulposus loses its ability to distribute the load evenly, and cracks appear in the annulus of the fibrosus. Doctors believe that the common cause of pathology is a genetic predisposition to osteochondrosis. Other factors include:

  • inactive lifestyle and work;
  • spinal cord injuries;
  • contagious disease;
  • increased physical activity;
  • hormonal disorders;
  • weak muscular corset.

The exact cause of the onset of degenerative changes is unknown. The disease can be identified by objective signs and symptoms. People who spend a lot of time in a sitting position, have problems with posture and spinal injuries should pay close attention to their manifestations.

With inactive work, the chances of osteochondrosis are higher

Provoking factors

The natural predisposition to cartilage dystrophy may not appear until middle age, when the body’s natural aging process begins. But there are factors that can provoke accelerated degeneration. This includes:

  • chronic stress;
  • hypothermia;
  • unbalanced diet;
  • difficult working conditions;
  • overweight.

With prolonged pinching and inflammation of the nerve roots, disturbances in the work of internal organs occur. Osteochondrosis is characterized by a wavy journey, periods of acute or dull pain replaced by remission.

Grade 4 thoracic osteochondrosis on CT scan

Diagnostic methods

To make a diagnosis, you need to collect the patient's history, perform a physical examination. Preliminary conclusions are made during the initial examination. The patient's spine was examined in various positions. Pathological confirmation and information on the condition of the spine are provided by instrumental diagnostics. Experts use:

  1. Radiography. Pictures of the thoracic region show the degree of pathology. Direct and lateral radiographs help establish changes in disc height, osteophyte appearance, vertebral body end plate compaction, spinal canal diameter narrowing, and Schmorl node formation.
  2. Computed tomography is performed to detect and measure bone structure.

If necessary, magnetic resonance imaging is prescribed.

Treatment and prevention

Relieving pain, inflammation and other problems is only possible with complex treatments. The choice of technique depends on the patient's condition. In the early stages, conservative therapy is practiced; in further cases, surgical intervention will be required.


A course of medications is prescribed to relieve pain and prevent destruction of the structure of the intervertebral disc. The basis of therapy is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. They are prescribed in the form of tablets and ointments.

For the treatment of osteochondrosis 3 degrees, hormonal drugs are used - corticosteroids. They have a significant anti-inflammatory effect. In acute pain syndrome, anesthetic injection is indicated. Muscle cramps and tension are relieved by muscle relaxants. To restore cartilage tissue, experts advise using chondroprotectors.

Healing of nerve root inflammation is facilitated by the intake of special vitamin complexes containing B group vitamins. Useful elements are well absorbed from food - eggs, herbs, beef and cheese. Patients are advised to rest and relax. He must have seen a sleep break in the first few days.

Electrophoresis for chest osteochondrosis


The effect of the apparatus has a significant therapeutic effect. Patients with osteochondrosis are prescribed:

  • shock wave therapy;
  • electrophoresis;
  • ultrasonic exposure;
  • magnetotherapy;
  • laser therapy.

Physiotherapy increases blood flow and relaxes muscles. During the electrophoresis session, the drug penetrates further into the body tissues.

Folk medicine

You can be treated not only with drugs, but also with the help of folk remedies. At home, various ingredients and foods can be used as a cure. Decoctions, ointments, rubs are prepared from them. Means allow to relieve inflammation, speed up the regeneration process. A warm bath with sea salt and chamomile helps relieve pain. Effective recipes:

  • Juniper ointment and butter - beat crushed junipers with butter until smooth. The composition is stored in the refrigerator.
  • Ointment from hot pork and hop cones - dried cones are ground into a powder and mixed with fat. Ointment is used 2-3 times a day.
  • Honey compress - for the composition you need 2 tablespoons of honey, 2 tablespoons of vodka, 1 tablespoon of aloe juice. The product is mixed and applied to the affected area.
  • Mustard compress - vodka, camphor alcohol and mustard powder mixed in equal parts. Add 3 proteins and incubate for 12 hours. This product has an irritating effect, so use with caution.

Before using the formulation, doctors advise checking it for allergic reactions.


One part of the complex treatment of thoracic spine osteochondrosis is massage. The procedure reduces pain, improves blood circulation, and stimulates muscles. The applicator can replace massage and acupuncture at home. This is a special rug with plastic needles.

Exercise therapy helps improve spinal mobility


When the period of exacerbation is over, it is recommended to switch to light physical activity. These include walking, swimming, yoga, and rehabilitation gymnastics. Doing special exercises is the easiest method to overcome the disease and forget about back problems forever. During exercise, emphasis is placed on stretching and strengthening the chest muscles. There are special techniques that help improve the health of the spine. Exercises are selected according to the individual characteristics of the patient.

Preventive recommendations

Doctors advise, as a prevention of disease, to do regular exercises aimed at strengthening the muscles of the back and chest. In addition to gymnastics, you must adhere to the following rules:

  • Rest while doing inactive work. Change your body posture regularly until the load is distributed to different muscle groups.
  • Choose a comfortable orthopedic mattress for a good spine rest.
  • Use a chair with a high back that supports the spine.
  • Balance your diet.
  • Reluctant to lift and carry weights.

A timely visit to the doctor allows you to determine osteochondrosis at an early stage. This provides a good prognosis for recovery.