Osteochondrosis of the thoracic region.

Osteochondrosis is a long-term disease. Most often, when assessing the severity of pathological processes, four stages are distinguished:

  • The first stage is the period of initial changes that occur in the annulus fibrosus of the disc, which often goes unnoticed by the patient;
  • The second stage corresponds to the appearance of instability in the affected segment of the spine, a decrease in the height of the disc;
  • The third stage is characterized by the appearance of hernias or osteochondral growths - osteophytes, the annulus fibrosus at this stage is almost destroyed;
  • The fourth stage is characterized by irreversible damage to all structures that provide the intervertebral joint, fibrosis of the disc and loss of mobility in the affected segment.
diagnosis of intervertebral osteochondrosis

Causes of osteochondrosis of the thoracic region.

It has been shown that around the age of 20 our vertebrae begin to slowly deteriorate. With age, wear and tear on the spine progresses. Due to degenerative processes, there is a decrease in the thickness of the intervertebral disc, which acts as a shock absorber. In addition, abnormal structures appear on the bone edges of adjacent vertebrae: bone spurs, spondylophytes, which reduce the range of motion.

Degenerative-dystrophic changes begin with the nucleus pulposus, then spread to the annulus fibrosus, as well as other structural elements of the vertebra, causing the appearance of characteristic symptoms.

Due to the loss of water, the nucleus pulposus stops distributing the vertical load evenly. This negatively affects the annulus fibrosus. Excessive compression (compression) causes mechanical damage, the appearance of breaks and cracks. The joints begin to experience excessive stress, which gradually leads to instability and pain in the spine.

Therefore, the main cause of osteochondrosis is natural aging. However, its development is also facilitated by a combination of many unfavorable factors that increase the likelihood of the disease manifesting itself. These include:

  • Of smoking;
  • Surgical interventions performed on the spine;
  • Injuries to this part of the spine;
  • Curvature of the spine (scoliosis);
  • Weakness of the back muscles;
  • Excess body weight;
  • Greater load on the spine.

It is assumed that the involution (aging) of cartilage and bone tissue of the vertebrae is genetically determined and that the progression to a pathological state with characteristic symptoms and manifestations occurs under the influence of external and internal factors. The processes may begin earlier if they are preceded by damage (mechanical, inflammatory, etc. ).

Symptoms of osteochondrosis of the thoracic region.

The symptoms of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine will depend on the stage of the pathological process and the existing structural disorders. Unlike other areas of the spine (cervical, lumbar), radicular syndrome and other neurological complications are less typical for the thoracic region. This is explained by the presence of a bony structure of the thorax, which limits the displacement and compression of this part of the spine. Most often, pain in the thoracic region (thoracic back pain or lumbago) is associated with immobilization of the intervertebral joints.

Reference! Thoracic lumbago, or dorsago, in neurology refers to acute, high-intensity pain that occurs in the thoracic spine, often associated with difficulty breathing. The cause of the condition lies in a severe spasm of the back muscles. It cannot be ignored, because. . . Myocardial infarction can also begin, and frequent low back pain can be associated with serious pathologies of the body.

The pain can last from several hours to several days. As a rule, it is not as intense as in the case of damage to other parts of the spine, but it is also associated with movement of the spine. In addition, muscle hypertonicity is detected in this area, which can be combined with weakness and numbness in the hands.

The pain may be dull, burning, deep, paroxysmal or constant. It can be felt in the chest, in the heart area and other organs. Patients describe it as "a stake in the chest", "compression of the chest with a hoop", "a blow with a knife between the shoulder blades". This section is characterized by radiating, tightening pain associated with deep sighs, coughing, and sudden chest movements.

Without treatment, osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine is often complicated by intercostal neuralgia. In this case, the burning pain may be localized in the region of the heart and the patient may confuse it with manifestations of cardiac pathology.

pain in the thoracic spine

Important! If you feel pain in the heart area, you should not try to make a differential diagnosis on your own. To exclude heart diseases and prevent the progression of pathological processes in the spine, it is important not to delay consulting a doctor, not to wait for the pain to pass and not to self-medicate.

Pain may increase with physical activity, bending, and psycho-emotional stress. When the extreme vertebrae in this area are affected, the pain can radiate to the lower back, the sacrum and even the buttocks.

Diagnosis of osteochondrosis of the thoracic region.

Diagnosis of osteochondrosis of the thoracic region is a multi-stage process. First of all, the doctor will collect a history:

  • Find out your medical history;
  • Has any close family member had spinal diseases?
  • How long ago did the symptoms start and what is their intensity?
  • What concomitant diseases exist?

A physical examination of the patient is required, including examination of the skin, evaluation for postural disorders, and palpation (feeling) of the muscles located near the spine. Neurological tests may be performed to make a diagnosis.

Instrumental diagnosis

Diagnostic imaging allows you to assess the degree of cartilage damage, identify other existing disorders, and exclude diseases with similar symptoms. The recommended methods for instrumental diagnosis of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine include:

  • X-ray (spondylography) - provides information about the structure of the bone, the presence of osteophytes and the condition of the facet joints;
  • CT (computed tomography) allows you to examine everything in detail and, if necessary, take measurements, it has advantages over MRI in the diagnosis of pathologies of bone structures;
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows you to assess the condition of soft tissues, diagnose inflammatory processes, tumors, spinal hernias, identify pathological changes in cartilage, bones, ligaments, blood vessels, and determine the narrowing of the spinal canal. Using magnetic resonance imaging, vascular pathologies and tissue circulation disorders in the thoracic spine are detected.

Pharmacological blocks can also be used for diagnostic purposes. Due to the variety of pain manifestations, additional investigations are often necessary to exclude:

  • Angina pectoris;
  • Myocardial infarction;
  • aortic aneurysms,
  • cholecystitis,
  • Gastric ulcer;
  • Pneumonia;
  • Oncological diseases, etc.

Treatment methods for thoracic osteochondrosis.

therapeutic massage room

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine is a disease that requires complex treatment. In addition to drug treatment to relieve pain, it is important to consult specialists in the field of traumatology and neurology to find out the exact causes of disturbing symptoms.

Treatment tactics will depend on the severity of the disease. Typically, the first treatment option is conservative therapy, such as physical therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, heat therapy, and nerve block injections.

Exercise therapy for osteochondrosis of the thoracic region allows you to strengthen the muscles of the back and the interscapular region, form a muscle corset and correct posture, provide muscle relaxation and improve blood circulation in this segment of the spine. For osteochondrosis in this area, breathing exercises, bringing the shoulder blades together and rotating the shoulders are useful.

Massage helps to normalize blood supply, lymphatic drainage and activates metabolic processes. It is prescribed outside of an exacerbation, when the patient is not suffering from severe pain. Various types of medical massage are used: manual (hand), underwater, vacuum.

Manual therapy methods are also popular. Chiropractors work with blocks and braces of the musculoskeletal system, removing them using various techniques. Acupressure or acupressure can also be performed for acute pain. During it, the doctor, pressing certain points with different intensity with his fingers, has a therapeutic effect on the entire body.

Physiotherapy techniques are quite effective in the treatment of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine. They help reduce pain, improve blood circulation and strengthen spinal muscles. Among them:

  • Ultrasound therapy;
  • Drug electrophoresis;
  • Laser therapy in the spinal area;
  • Transcutaneous electrical neuromyostimulation;
  • Exposure to magnetic fields;
  • Electrical impulse therapy.

To enhance the therapeutic effect, a combination of pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods of therapy is recommended. Treatment of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine can take a long time, but the results will be visible after the first procedures. The main thing is not to delay visiting the doctor and start treatment in the early stages of the disease.

If conservative treatment does not help, surgery may be required. Most often, decompression and stabilization operations are performed. They allow to stop the compression of the spinal cord, nerve roots due to hernias, osteophytes or hypertrophied ligaments and to fix the affected segment.

After surgical treatment, it will be necessary to wear a special corset for some time. Upon discharge from the hospital, a course of medical rehabilitation is prescribed.

Treatment of thoracic osteochondrosis at home.

Treatment of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine at home can be effective if a number of conditions are met. First of all, the diagnosis must be established by a specialist after a complete examination. Treatment methods should also be discussed with a doctor to ensure that there are no contraindications in the presence of concomitant pathologies.

The most important and basic thing is to maintain a healthy lifestyle, control body weight and add sufficient physical activity. The best way to deal with back pain is to exercise. They will help strengthen the back muscles, improve blood circulation, cope with stress more easily and thus prevent the progression of the disease.

If the condition worsens or there is severe, sharp pain, it is best to lie down and ensure that the spine remains at rest. Thermal treatments and massages help to cope with unpleasant sensations. In any case, home treatment does not replace consultation with a specialist and the application of his recommendations. Uncontrolled self-medication can lead to a worsening of the condition and the development of complications.

Which doctor should I contact?

Neurologists and orthopedists treat osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine. They carry out diagnoses, make a diagnosis and select the appropriate treatment. Patients may also need to see a physical therapist and a physical therapy doctor.

If you have pain in the thoracic region, you can also consult a therapist. He will analyze the clinical manifestations, prescribe the necessary tests and refer you to a specialist.

Treatment of thoracic osteochondrosis.

Doctors at your regional clinic will help you cope with the symptoms of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine. For the most part, almost any clinic has the necessary modern diagnostic equipment, which allows you to obtain the most accurate information about the condition of the spine and select the most effective method of treatment. Experienced specialists of various profiles help patients regain their health in comfortable conditions: neurologists, orthopedists, physiotherapists, masseuses, therapists.

If necessary, in modern reality it is possible to receive advice from other specialized specialists in the shortest possible time and without queues. Consultants are ready to help if any questions arise. Fill out the feedback form on the Internet and they will definitely call you back.