How to recognize and treat thoracic osteochondrosis?

symptoms and treatment of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine

Thoracic osteochondrosis is rare, but it can cause many complications. It is important to perform a complete diagnosis to make an accurate diagnosis. Treatment must be timely and comprehensive. Preventive measures will help prevent the development of such a disease.

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine is a degenerative disease of the cartilaginous structures. Without timely and competent treatment, osteochondrosis can cause several complications, so it cannot be ignored. Preventive measures will help to avoid such pathology.

General characteristics of the disease

Osteochondrosis is a fairly common injury to the musculoskeletal system, but it rarely affects the thoracic region compared to other parts of the spine. This is due to the fact that this part of the spine is the least mobile, so it undergoes less stress.

This characteristic also represents the danger of the disease - its symptoms are less pronounced, so patients go to the doctor with advanced osteochondrosis.

The disease is characterized by the development of degenerative and dystrophic processes. They cause pathological changes that affect bone and cartilage tissue. If left untreated, the pathology changes the structure of the ligaments, intervertebral discs, joints, which causes their destruction.

With the development of osteochondrosis, bone structures are affected first, then the pathological process spreads to cartilage structures, muscles and connective tissue. At a young age, these pathological changes cause premature aging of the body.


The pathology is characterized by gradual progression, therefore, there are four stages (degrees), each of which is characterized by certain clinical manifestations and complications:

  1. The first stage usually involves rupture of the intervertebral disc, which can cause excessive stress or sudden movement.
  2. In the second stage, protrusion of the intervertebral discs is observed. In this case, the disc protrudes into the intervertebral channel - the protrusion is usually no more than half a centimeter. In this phase, spinal instability develops.
  3. The third stage of osteochondrosis is characterized by an increase in the intensity of clinical manifestations and is usually accompanied by an intervertebral hernia.
  4. The fourth stage of the disease is called the most serious and dangerous. At this stage, osteophytes appear. Its proliferation creates pressure on the spinal cord and nerve endings.


Osteochondrosis can develop at any age. The risk of its occurrence is not related to gender.

The disease often develops in the context of the following factors:

  • age - people over the age of 40 are at risk;
  • various pathologies of the spine, including curvature of the spine;
  • hereditary predisposition;
  • trauma resulting in damage to the intervertebral discs;
  • chronic stress;
  • hypothermia;
  • hormonal imbalance, material metabolism;
  • impaired blood circulation in the thoracic region;
  • characteristics of professional activity that increase the load on the thoracic region.

Symptoms of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine

The disease can have several symptoms and sometimes manifests itself in an atypical way. Most of the time, the pathology is expressed by the following signs:

  • Pain. This symptom is the main one. Painful sensations usually arise when the body is in a position for a long time, physical exertion, weight lifting. As the pathology progresses, the pain can also be observed at rest, intensified with any movement. She may be numb or sore.
  • Crushing in the middle of the back. In that case, it is more difficult for a person to breathe. Pain is felt as you inhale or exhale deeply.
  • Body parts go numb.
  • There may be chills and chills.
  • The local temperature in the legs is decreasing.
  • Itching and burning can be felt in the lower extremities.
  • If the pathology affects the cardiovascular system, causing it to malfunction, it may be accompanied by skin peeling, thinning of the nail plates and increased fragility of the nails.
  • With the progression of osteochondrosis, the functioning of the organs of the gastrointestinal tract is interrupted, which can lead to a whole series of symptoms: nausea, heartburn, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, painful sensations in the abdomen.
signs and symptoms of breast osteochondrosis

Pain is one of the main symptoms of breast osteochondrosis, but it can manifest itself in completely different ways. In some cases, back pain is seen - painful sensations appear at the injury site and continue for a long time. In other cases, dorsal pain occurs - the pain manifests itself in an intense and acute form, appears in paroxysms, restricts the muscles and disturbs the breathing.

The clinical picture of osteochondrosis depends a lot on its stage:

  1. In the first stage of the disease, a rupture of the intervertebral disc is usually observed. This phenomenon is expressed by severe pain and muscle tension. The sensations resemble the effect of an electric current, the discharge of which seems to pass through the column.
  2. In the second stage, protrusion is observed, which is accompanied by pain in the thoracic region, which can also affect internal organs.
  3. In the third stage of pathology, pain occurs more frequently. It becomes more difficult for the patient to breathe, headaches arise. The disease can slightly disrupt the functioning of the heart.
  4. In the fourth stage, due to compression of the nerve roots, intercostal neuralgia may occur. In that case, acute chest pain occurs. At first, it affects only one area, but then it spreads throughout the chest. This makes breathing difficult. The patient is sometimes unable to change the position of the body, the pain during several movements intensifies many times, it can be unbearable. Due to the intense pain, the pupils may dilate.

The symptoms of osteochondrosis of the thoracic region usually increase at night, which is associated with a long stay of the body in a horizontal position. After awakening, the symptoms become less intense or disappear entirely, but sudden movements or low body temperature can increase them.

Atypical manifestations of thoracic osteochondrosis include the following symptoms:

  • Painful sensations in the heart region. This manifestation raises suspicions of heart attack or angina pectoris. Sometimes this symptom lasts for several weeks.
  • Concentration of pain in the abdomen, resulting in severe discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract. This symptom increases with physical activity.
  • Acute spastic pain in the upper abdomen. This symptom is characteristic of gastritis, pancreatitis, cholecystitis.
  • In women, an exacerbation of the disease can cause acute pain in the mammary glands. In this case, malignancy is suspected.
  • Violation of Organs genitourinary organs.
  • If the pathological changes are concentrated in the upper part of the thoracic region, the pain can affect the esophagus or the pharynx. In this case, patients complain about the sensation of a foreign object in the throat.

Only a doctor can make a diagnosis. Thoracic osteochondrosis is accompanied by many symptoms that are also characteristic of other pathologies. A qualified specialist will be able to understand all the nuances of the clinical picture.


The doctor can make a preliminary diagnosis at the stage of the initial examination of the patient. Usually, a neurologist deals with the problem of osteochondrosis. The doctor examines the spine in various positions on the body.

To confirm the diagnosis and identify the characteristics of the pathology, they resort to instrumental diagnosis. The basic study is the X-ray.

how to diagnose thoracic osteochondrosis

In addition, the following measures can also be applied:

  • computed tomography;
  • magnetic resonance imaging;
  • scintigraphy;
  • discography
  • ;
  • electromyography.

They also use laboratory diagnostics. It may consist of general and biochemical tests of blood and urine. Such studies are carried out with the objective of differential diagnosis, identifying the characteristics of the pathology, associated complications.

The diagnosis is necessary not only to confirm the diagnosis, but also to differentiate osteochondrosis from other pathologies. With its atypical course, the clinical picture may resemble other pathologies that may not even be associated with the thoracic region.

Treatment of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine

The disease requires complex treatment. It involves not only the use of drugs, but also several physical therapy methods, physical therapy exercises, massages.

During an exacerbation of the disease, bed rest is necessary. Mobility should be limited as much as possible. Often, the pain syndrome is so strong that the patient calls an ambulance. The treatment, in this case, is carried out in a hospital environment.

Restrict movement during treatment. When bed rest is no longer necessary, you can walk, but long walks are prohibited. The walk should be alternated with the rest. You should also not sit in the same position for long.

When the disease is advanced, they resort to traction. This technique involves stretching the spine. This allows you to increase the distance between the vertebrae, reduce the size of the intervertebral hernia and activate the nutrition of the intervertebral discs.

Medical therapy

Various drugs for breast osteochondrosis are used to relieve pain, muscle tension and improve blood supply. The following drugs can be prescribed for such purposes:

  • The basis of drug therapy is usually non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which relieve pain and eliminate inflammation. These drugs are prescribed in the form of ointments and gels for external use, tablets and capsules for oral administration, solution for injection. Therapy may involve the simultaneous use of several forms of medication from the same group. The therapeutic course usually lasts 1-2 weeks.
  • For severe pain, use glucocorticosteroids. Usually, medications are used for intramuscular injections or applications through physical therapy.
  • For severe pain, pain relievers are also used.
  • In case of unbearable pain, they resort to drug block. The blocks are performed strictly according to the indications in a hospital environment.
  • Topical irritants can help reduce pain. They can be based on natural ingredients - pepper extract, bee or snake venom.
  • To restore blood circulation to the affected area, intramuscular injections of nicotinic acid are prescribed.
  • Muscle relaxants are used to relieve muscle tension.
  • After stopping the exacerbation of the disease, medications are often prescribed to activate metabolic processes and restore cartilage structures. This effect is provided by chondroprotectors. These drugs involve a long therapeutic course that takes several months.

Only a doctor can prescribe necessary drugs in a specific case. It is necessary to determine the duration and schedule of taking each drug, taking into account the compatibility of the various drug substances.

Physiotherapy and massage

In case of thoracic osteochondrosis, physiotherapy methods allow you to get rid of pain, restore mobility. The doctor can prescribe the following treatments:

  • electrophoresis or phonophoresis with drugs, including anti-inflammatories and analgesics;
  • magnetic therapy;
  • darsonvalization;
  • paraffin wax applications;
  • ozokeritoterapia;
  • balneotherapy; ultrasound
  • ;
  • mud therapy;
  • UHF therapy.
massage for osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine

Special attention should be paid to massage for thoracic osteochondrosis. In the treatment of such pathology, the following techniques may be involved:

  • Classic.In this case, the massage consists of caressing, kneading, pinching and lightly rubbing. This treatment must be clear. A course can include up to 15 sessions, each with a maximum duration of 20 minutes.
  • Spot.The impact can be made on painful or acupuncture points. The movements are performed with the fingertips in a circle with a gradual increase in the pressure force.
  • Canned.The use of cans allows to create a vacuum, which increases blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. The suction massage increases muscle tone, eliminates pathological reflexes and accelerates the microcirculation of various fluids in the body.
  • Segmental.This massage is performed to improve the blood supply to the affected area, stimulate lymphatic drainage and oxygenate tissues.

Corrective Gymnastics

Physiotherapy exercises provide an excellent effect in the case of thoracic osteochondrosis. It must be done under the supervision of a specialist, but some exercises can be performed at home:

  • Warm up before corrective gymnastics. For this, you can shower and do a little warm-up. It consists of swinging the arms, turning, turning the body.
  • Lie on the floor, face down. Place both hands behind your head, opening your elbows wide. Slowly lift your shoulders and your body. Pull your right elbow first, then your left. Do 5 repetitions.
  • In the same starting position, place your hands behind your back and secure them in the lock. Doing a torso flexion, raise your arms without opening them. At the extreme point, you need to take a few seconds, smoothly return to your original position.
  • Lie on the floor and place your hands behind your shoulders. Lift your shoulders alternately, moving your head in the same direction.
  • Lie on a hard surface, face down. Stretch your arms forward while lifting your body. Do several repetitions and then do the same body lifts, but with your arms extended across your body.
  • Sit on a chair and place both hands on the belt. Move the scapular waist, gently lifting and lowering it to its original position. At the extreme point, you need to take a few seconds. Do 5 repetitions.
  • This exercise should be done with a gymnastic stick. It is necessary to sit and raise your arms while inhaling, holding a stick in them. As you exhale, return to your starting position and lean your body forward.
  • Lie on the floor and place your hands with a gym cane on your shoulders. Then tilt your body to the left and right. This exercise is contraindicated in scoliosis.
  • Sit in a chair with a backrest, lean over and lean back.

All exercises should be done smoothly and slowly. Abrupt movements are excluded. If an exercise is painful, stop doing it and get some rest. If the pain persists, exercise should be stopped and a doctor should be consulted.

Prognosis, complications

Subject to timely detection and competent treatment of thoracic osteochondrosis, the prognosis is favorable. If the disease is neglected, life expectancy is reduced by about 7%.

The progression of osteochondrosis can lead to the development of other pathologies:

  • protrusion of the intervertebral disc when it projects into the intervertebral canal;
  • intervertebral hernia - unlike protrusion, it involves rupture of the fibrous ring;
  • stenosis of the intervertebral canal, vertebral artery;
  • radiculopathy - a complex of symptoms that occurs when the roots of the spinal cord are damaged;
  • kyphosis - popularly called hunchback and implies the curvature of the spine with the direction of the bulge backwards (sagittal plane);
  • pneumosclerosis;
  • tiles;
  • malignant neoplasms;
  • sexual dysfunction
  • .


Any disease is easier to prevent than to stop and cure the pathological changes that have already occurred.

Compliance with the following preventive measures will help prevent breast osteochondrosis:

  • Maintain a normal body weight.
  • Moderate physical activity. It is necessary to exercise regularly or at least daily. It is imperative to include elements to strengthen your back muscles in the exercise set.
  • Avoiding injuries, physical overload.
  • Maintain the correct posture, if necessary, making your correction.
  • Avoiding emotional overload, stress.
  • Adequate nutrition.
  • Elimination of bad habits.
  • Correct organization of the sleeping place. It is important to correctly select the mattress stiffness, orienting it to your individual characteristics.
  • Properly organize the workplace. If the job is sedentary, then a high-back chair should be taken care of. It is necessary to take breaks and warm up during them.
  • Timely medical examinations.
  • Complete and timely treatment of any pathology.

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine can lead to several complications that negatively affect quality of life. It is necessary, at the first signs of pathology, to consult a doctor who will diagnose and prescribe competent treatment. All regulations must be strictly followed.