Symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis

Osteochondrosis rarely develops in the thoracic spine - the intervertebral discs in it are smaller and thinner in size than in the cervical or lumbar spine. The thoracic region is less mobile, the main load falls on the ribs and sternum.

Unlike cervical and lumbar osteochondrosis, the symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis differ only in the place of pain. The nature of pain and their duration are similar. In case of prolapse in the thoracic region, the spinal cord is not affected. Read on for this and more.

Stages of pathology

Over time, progression of osteochondrosis usually occurs. According to the severity of the manifestation, the pathology is divided into 4 stages.


There are minimal disorders in the spine. There may be a mild pain syndrome, the back muscles tense up. It is possible to develop thoracic pain - chest pain, but this is a rare occurrence.

Discogenic sciatica

There is a change in the structure of the intervertebral discs. Pain of moderate intensity may occur in the part of the spine that is affected. The patient is able to work. But his muscle endurance is declining.


At this stage, the fibrous ring is completely destroyed. A disc herniation forms, the process of deformation of the fibrous ring continues, leading to its rupture. Then the nucleus pulposus prolapses into the space below the ligaments. A herniated disc develops. The process affects the tissues near the disc, the work of blood vessels, muscles, nerves, ligaments is disturbed. The disease becomes chronic.

Change in the shape of the bone structure

The vertebra becomes rough, its surface becomes ribbed, uneven. Muscles begin to contract spontaneously, leading to limited mobility of the entire spine or a particular vertebra. There are pinched nerves that leave the spinal cord. This leads to the deterioration of the impulses that come from the brain to the body's tissues and organs.

The mobility of the spine as a whole is preserved, but individual vertebrae become fragile and can easily collapse. If you do not treat the disease, it enters the fourth stage.

Regeneration of intervertebral disc tissue and replacement with scar tissue

A damaged intervertebral disc is not able to perform its functions well, leading to convergence of the bodies of neighboring vertebrae. This leads to disorders of the intervertebral joints, called spondylarthrosis. In this case, there may be twisting or displacement of the vertebrae relative to the neighbors.

The body includes its own compensation mechanisms. To relieve the damaged disc, the vertebra becomes flat and grows in width. So its area increases. And the tissue in the fibrous ring, which has collapsed, can be replaced by bone.

Sometimes this reduces pain, but by growing, the vertebrae make the spinal foramina even narrower - the nerve is pinched.

Symptoms of the disease

Symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis are often due to such factors:

  • the patient's age;
  • spinal cord injury;
  • the developmental stage of the disease;
  • the patient's condition is remission or worsening of the disease.

Symptoms may also include:

  • radiculopathy - painful damage to the nerve endings in the spinal cord;
  • abdominal syndrome;
  • heart syndrome, changes in the heart muscle - it is characterized by severe pain and is not affected by nitroglycerin;
  • lung syndrome: stagnation, hypoxia occurs in the lungs;
  • paresthesia - a feeling of "goosebumps" in the body;
  • pain in the area of the compressed nerve;
  • decreased sensitivity to temperature fluctuations and to touch;
  • violations of the motor function of the spine.

The patient's body temperature does not rise. This serves as a sign that allows you to differentiate the pathology.

Degrees of disease


It is a sharp pain that permeates the body. It shows up when lifting heavy objects and other physical exertion - the pain looks like an electric current discharge.

In terms of morphology, an unexpected rupture of the intervertebral disc capsule occurs when the load is too high. Such traumatic injury leads to irritation of the nerves - pain occurs.

The muscles are tense and it is well expressed. Lumbar lordosis is smoothed out. So the load is redistributed and the intervertebral disc is even more compressed, leading to swelling, which increases the pain.

When the pathology is concentrated in the neck area, cervicalgia appears - it is manifested by pain when the head is turned and palpation of the cervical muscles. With an exacerbation, cervicocranialgia is often observed, which is manifested in the fact that a person has a severe headache in the back of the head. There may be tinnitus, dizziness, a feeling of flies in the eyes, and the teeth may hurt.


They appear as a result of a narrowing of the cavity in the spinal canal. The intervertebral disc protrudes and compresses the vessels. The brain fails to get the right amount of blood. There may be severe headache, numbness in the arms and pain in the shoulders.

Breathing becomes difficult, which means that not enough oxygen enters the brain. This leads to stabbing pain in the area of the heart.

Intervertebral hernia

At this stage of development, the picture looks quite serious - the spinal canal and intervertebral cavities are very narrowed. As a result, a hernia can form - a dangerous defect. Often at this stage of the disease it is necessary to resort to surgery.

Treatment of third degree osteochondrosis depends on root compression. It is possible to use the same techniques as in other degrees. However, when the pain is not relieved within fifteen days and symptoms of prolapse (falling out of a vertebra), surgery is required.

intervertebral hernia in thoracic osteochondrosis

Growth on the vertebrae

Usually at this stage of the disease the manifestations of a hernia disappear, the symptoms of the disease are less pronounced, but it is noteworthy that the spine is unstable, the vertebrae may slip or twist relative to each other.

At this point, the growth of the vertebral bodies can occur - this is called osteophytes. Growth leads to compression of the spinal nerves, which is an overlap of the spinal canal, called secondary stenosis of the spinal canal. As a result, compression of the spinal cord is possible, leading to ischemia.

This degree of the disease also includes the consequences of previous surgeries to remove the hernia. They may manifest as decreased innervation, paresis, inflammation.

Dorsago and dorsalgia

The symptomatology of thoracic osteochondrosis depends directly on the area of injury to the spine. The most common vertebral syndromes are dorsal and dorsal.

Dorsago manifests itself in the form of sudden sharp pains that occur in the chest area. This often happens if a person is in a sitting position for a long time without changing his position. Pain can occur when a person's position from a physiological point of view is uncomfortable. In addition, long-term monotonous work is possible.

Dorsago is also called "chest chamber". When this happens, the muscles in your back and chest tighten so much that it becomes difficult to breathe.

Sometimes the pain passes along the ribs to the sternum and radiates to the area of the scapula. Sometimes the patient may think it is a myocardial infarction. However, when performing an electrocardiogram, deviations from the norm are not detected. If you take nitroglycerin or another remedy for the heart, then there will be no result.

sedentary work as the cause of thoracic osteochondrosis

Avoid staying in one position for long periods of time. Sedentary work is one of the leading causes of osteochondrosis.

Dorsalgi is a mild pain that is present for a long time, sometimes up to these weeks. The inflamed area of the spine gives a "soft" pain. It is uncomfortable so the person usually comes to the doctor.

Dorsalgi can be expressed in the fact that:

  • soreness becomes stronger when a person takes a deep breath or coughs;
  • muscles are overloaded;
  • motor activity in the neck or lower back decreases;
  • there are muscle spasms;
  • the pain intensifies at night and when a person is engaged in physical education.

Dorsalgia is upper and lower. At first, the main painful manifestations are concentrated in the region of the upper chest, in the neck. In the second case, it hurts mainly in the region of the sacrum and lower back.

The symptoms of Dorsalgia are very similar to the first manifestations of pneumonia. This is important to remember in order to diagnose the disease in a timely manner. If the diagnosis is made incorrectly and treatment is prescribed, the patient's condition will only worsen.

When a woman is breastfeeding, she may experience such manifestations of osteochondrosis. It is necessary to treat the disease in this situation only by consulting a doctor taking into account all the nuances.

It is important to weigh all the risks of using certain drugs so as not to harm the child and your own health.

Atypical symptoms

In some cases, the symptoms of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine are completely atypical. A person may not even be aware of the disease as the symptoms often resemble signs of other pathologies. They should be considered in more detail and analyze the situation as a whole:

  • the appearance of pain mimicking the heart that develops during angina pectoris and heart attack is possible; coronary dilatants, such as nitroglycerin, do not work; and the ECG shows no abnormalities;
  • there may be pain similar to that which occurs in women with the development of diseases of the mammary glands; such pain may persist for a long time; when examining problems in the mammary glands is not detected;
  • the pelvic region and abdomen may be painful, the symptoms not similar to those occurring with gastritis and colitis; there may be pain below the right rib, similar to those characterizing hepatitis or cholecystitis; digestion is usually disturbed - this is also a characteristic symptom of osteochondrosis, which occurs due to violations of internal organ innervation; it is necessary to find out what caused the violations of the process of digestion of food, it is really the cause of thoracic osteochondrosis;
  • the process of urination and sexual function may be disturbed because the innervation of the genitourinary system is distorted;
  • when thoracic osteochondrosis worsens, there may be prolonged weeks, pain in the sternum, very similar to those present in diseases of the mammary gland; a visit to a mammologist allows you to identify the cause of the pain.

These symptoms are associated with manifestations of back pain, as well as with intercostal neuralgia. The onset of atypical symptoms is usually observed in the evening. In the morning there is usually no whiter. The tenderness increases during the day if appropriate conditions are created for this, causing pain.