Thoracic osteochondrosis is a degenerative disease of the thoracic spine in which there is literally "premature aging", "wear and tear" of intervertebral discs, joints and the vertebrae themselves. The disease is not as common as cervical or lumbar osteochondrosis due to the structural features of the thoracic spine:
- The thoracic vertebrae are attached as they are connected to the ribs and through them to the sternum, forming a single structure - the chest. This part of the spine has less mobility compared to the lower back or cervix.
- In the thoracic region, the spine has a physiological flexion - kyphosis. It is an arc with the tip facing backwards. The spine is bent forward so that the highest mechanical load falls on the anterior and lateral parts of the vertebrae, the degenerative process developing predominantly in the anterior part.
- Osteophytes - bone growth on the vertebral bodies - with thoracic osteochondrosis are predominantly located in the anterior part, because of this the symptoms of the disease are poorly expressed and may be absent for a long time.
What happens in the vertebrae with osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine?
With osteochondrosis of this part of the spine, the degenerative process begins with the intervertebral disc. There are changes to it at the biochemical level, due to this the disc swells for a while, then its height decreases. He stops performing his function normally.
Then in the peripheral part of the intervertebral disc - the annulus fibrosus - tears and cracks appear. This predisposes to the subsequent development of an intervertebral hernia.
The degenerative process also develops in the intervertebral, spinal-costal joints (spondyloarthrosis). This leads to a narrowing of the intervertebral foramen, through which the roots of the spinal cord leave, squeezing, irritation and dysfunction of the latter.
Due to the dysfunction of the intervertebral discs, the load on the vertebrae increases. A compensatory mechanism is activated - along the edges of the vertebral bodies, bone growths are shown - osteophytes. This condition is called spondylosis.
Treatment of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine according to modern standards
The disease continues in the form of alternating exacerbations when all the symptoms are clearly manifested and remissions are periods of improvement.
During an exacerbation of osteochondrosis, spinal traction is used. The patient is placed on a bed with a raised headboard and fastened with special rings to the armpits, and therefore stretching occurs due to the weight of his own body. Underwater traction can also be used. The patient is in an upright position in the pool, a special float is attached to his neck, and a weight of a certain weight is hung from his legs.
Chest pain osteochondrosis is controlled with painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. The physician may apply paravertebral blockade when an anesthetic solution is injected into the area of the affected nerve roots. According to indications, sedatives are prescribed, which help relieve stress and nervous tension caused by the disease.
From physiotherapeutic procedures are prescribed ultrasound treatment, electrophoresis with novocaine, diadynamic currents, UHF therapy. To read the spine, a neurologist may prescribe wearing the cross.
During remission, treatment of thoracic osteochondrosis includes massage, exercise therapy, physiotherapy, spa treatment.
The need for surgical treatment of osteochondrosis in the thoracic region is very rare.
Do not self-medicate - it can not only be useless, but also harmful. To receive effective treatment of breast osteochondrosis, you need to undergo a study to understand the causes of the problem, the pathological processes that occur in the body.
The main symptom of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine is pain. It is characterized by some features:
- By nature, she is most often boring. Burning, sore pains are less common.
- The pain intensifies during sudden movements, twists of the body, during a deep breath, after prolonged strain on the back, sleep (especially on an uncomfortable mattress, pillow).
- Most often, pain is localized between the shoulder blades, but can be shingles in nature.
- At night, there may be sensations that many patients describe as "as if their backs were pinched by iron ticks. "
In addition to pain, with thoracic osteochondrosis, other symptoms may occur due to compression of the nerve roots.
Other symptoms of osteochondrosis of the thoracic region
The pain leads to cramps in the blood vessels. This manifests itself in the form of coolness in the legs, peeling of the skin, increased fragility of the nails.
Symptoms of the disease may mimic internal organ abnormalities. If the degenerative process affects the upper part of the thoracic spine, a so-called pseudocardial syndrome can occur. There is a sharp pain in the chest, sometimes giving it under the shoulder blade, in the hand on the jaw. A person is scared, freezes, is afraid to move, take a deep breath as this increases the pain. In such cases, it is necessary to make a differential diagnosis between osteochondrosis and angina pectoris.
Sometimes pain occurs under the spoon, under the right rib - in this case, the manifestations of the disease resemble pathologies of the stomach, liver, gallbladder.
Sometimes there are disorders of the digestive organs, urinary disorders in the genital area.
It is not always easy to understand the symptoms of breast osteochondrosis. Often, in order to make the correct diagnosis, the doctor must prescribe a further examination to rule out violations of the cardiovascular system and digestive organs.
What causes the symptoms of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine?
The manifestations of the disease are caused by a number of pathological processes that occur in the spine:
- Decrease in the height of the intervertebral disc: as a result, the diameter of the intervertebral foramen, where the nerve roots pass, decreases, .
- Compression of the nerve roots in pathologically altered intervertebral joints.
- Compression of the roots of osteophytes - bone outgrowths on the vertebrae.
- The formation of intervertebral hernia - in the thoracic spine they are much less common than in the lower back, the cervix.
Effective treatment of symptoms of breast osteochondrosis
It is often possible to cope with the symptoms of breast osteochondrosis at home. Many people "save themselves", without doctors, over-the-counter and painkillers, by applying heat.
However, self-medication is only a temporary reduction of symptoms, and if done incorrectly, the problem can only get worse. During an exacerbation of osteochondrosis of the thoracic region, gymnastics and massage are contraindicated. The muscles of the spine, on the contrary, at this point try to relieve as much as possible.
An experienced neurologist will properly assess your condition, prescribe treatment that will help. The symptoms described in this article do not always indicate thoracic osteochondrosis; it is often necessary to have a competent differential diagnosis.
The causes of breast osteochondrosis are not fully understood, and in general, this disease raises a large number of questions for many physicians. Some even claim that such a disease does not actually exist, and its manifestations are usually due to completely different pathologies. By the way, in English-speaking medicine, this term denotes completely different diseases.
Possible causes of cervicothoracic osteochondrosis
It is currently believed that the disease may be due to one of the following causes or a combination of them:
- Autoimmune disorders in the body. Immunity begins to malfunction and attacks its own connective tissue, ligaments, the body's cartilage.
- Deferred damage. For example, a subluxation or compression fracture of a thoracic vertebra increases the risk of osteochondrosis in the future.
- Age. Degenerative changes occur in the spine in many people over the age of 40. But not all lead to disease.
- Permanent damage to the spine. Most often this happens in people who are constantly working sitting or standing in the same position, making the same movement.
- Congenital malformations of the vertebrae. Due to them, the work of the spine is disturbed, loads on the vertebrae and intervertebral discs are not distributed correctly. This contributes to the development of the degenerative process.
What causes can aggravate osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine?
The disease continues in waves - an exacerbation occurs, the symptoms of osteochondrosis become pronounced, then they subside - remission occurs. Factors that may cause further aggravation:
- In more than half of the cases, this happens after sudden movements, a prolonged stay in a monotonous position (static load on the spine), intense physical exertion and lifting of weights.
- Hypothermia - both general and direct thoracic spine.
- Nervous strain, stress.
- Spinal injuries - acute (contusion), chronic (with prolonged and intense strain on the spine).
- Various infections.
Sometimes (in 15-20% of cases) an exacerbation of breast osteochondrosis occurs without apparent cause.
What diseases can cause symptoms similar to thoracic osteochondrosis?
The diagnosis of osteochondrosis is not always justified, even the doctor can not always find out what is happening to the patient. Back pain often occurs due to other diseases:
- Myofascial pain syndrome. . . A common condition in which pain occurs as a result of persistent cramping in the back muscles.
- Herniated discs. . . They are rare in the thoracic region, but can also be a major cause of pain between the shoulder blades and neurological disorders.
- Trauma. . . If the injury was relatively mild - for example, soft tissue contusion, muscle strain - bothers the symptoms of "osteochondrosis" for some time, and then goes away on its own, even though no treatment has been performed. Pain can also be caused by more serious injuries - for example, a compression fracture, vertebral subluxation.
To correctly understand the causes of back problems, the patient must be examined by an experienced doctor, a complete examination must be performed.
Once the manifestations of "osteochondrosis" began to be disturbed, it is necessary to make the correct comprehensive diagnosis and understand the true causes of the symptoms that occurred. They are far from always located in the spine itself. This helps to prescribe the appropriate treatment, as quickly and efficiently as possible to cope with the problem.
Diagnosis of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine at the doctor's office: what happens during a visit to a neurologist?
The initial appointment begins with the doctor asking you some questions:
- What symptoms bother you? How long ago did they show up? How often do exacerbations occur?
- What is the nature of the pain? Does it give it to the arm, the neck, under the shoulder blade? How is the feeling the most?
- After which the pain usually intensifies? After what do you feel better?
- Have you had previous injuries, other problems with the spine? Have you already received treatment? Which one?
- Do you have problems with the cardiovascular system, stomach, liver, gallbladder?
Next, a neurological examination will be performed. The doctor will press points on the back of the thoracic spine to determine if pain is occurring. You will then be referred for examination.
What diagnostic methods are used for osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine?
In case of breast osteochondrosis, the doctor prescribes an examination, which may include the following diagnostic methods:
- X-ray. . . Usually, pictures are taken in two projections: full face and profile. From the image on the pictures you can assess the condition of bodies and arches, the joints of the vertebrae, the height of the intervertebral discs, the width of the spinal canal.
- X-ray contrast examinations. Discography(images after injection of contrast solution into the intervertebral disc) and myelography (injection of contrast solution into the space around the spinal cord) help to detect the level at which the spinal cord and its roots are compressed by the deformed intervertebral disc. Recently, these studies were practically not used, as more accurate diagnostic methods have been shown - CT and MRI.
- CT scanin the case of thoracic osteochondrosis, it helps to detect the affected intervertebral disc, assess its size, the degree of "wear", compression of the spinal cord and its roots.
- MRI scanningallows you to examine the spinal cord and its roots, the degree of their damage, detect an intervertebral hernia, narrowing of the lumen of the spinal canal.
The scope of diagnosis is exactly such that the neurologist can get all the necessary information, determine the correct diagnosis and prescribe the optimal treatment.
Why is it difficult to diagnose osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine?
The main manifestation of breast osteochondrosis is back pain, chest pain. This symptom can occur in a variety of diseases. Moreover, they are not always connected to the spine.
For example, pain in myofascial pain syndrome is a result of chronic spasm in the back muscles. Often the disease must be differentiated with pathologies of the heart, stomach, liver and other internal organs.
Diagnosis of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine always requires a careful approach by the doctor, it is important not to miss other possible pathologies.