Thoracic osteochondrosis - symptoms that not everyone knows about

A characteristic symptom of thoracic osteochondrosis is back pain

Recently, doctors have been receiving more and more complaints about back pain, and young women often suffer from them. If the discomfort is localized in the thoracic spine, then it may be caused by a disease such as thoracic osteochondrosis, the symptoms of which are described in detail below.

Thoracic osteochondrosis - causes

Osteochondrosis of the spine is a pathology in which negative modifications occur in the tissues of intervertebral discs - elements of the spinal column located between two vertebral bodies. The intervertebral disc is a type of flat round cushion consisting of a gel collagen core, connective fibrous and vitreous cartilage tissue. The main functions provided by these structures are:

  • fusion and retention of adjacent vertebral bodies;
  • spine protection that absorbs shocks, protects against injuries due to body gravity and loads;
  • ensuring mobility of adjacent vertebrae in relation to each other.

If the intervertebral discs are in a satisfactory functional state, the spine is provided with elasticity, mobility and the ability to withstand various mechanical loads. When the cartilage structure changes shape, texture, loses strength and elasticity, these functions cannot be fully performed. Basically, it happens against the background of metabolic disorders.

Thoracic osteochondrosis, accompanied by damage to the intervertebral discs

In part, the pathological changes in the intervertebral discs that cause thoracic osteochondrosis are explained by the fact that with age, their nutrition through their own blood vessels stops, and the supply of nutrients becomes possible only thanks to neighboring structures (ligaments, vertebral bodies). The exact causes of poor nutrition of intervertebral structures and the mechanism of their destruction are not known, but doctors identify a number of predisposing factors:

  • systemic metabolic disorders in the body;
  • overweight;
  • poor diet, drinking regime;
  • inactivity;
  • sedentary work;
  • bad posture;
  • flat feet;
  • injury to the back, spine;
  • intensive physical work or sports training;
  • pregnancy;
  • wearing uncomfortable shoes, high heels.

Degree of thoracic osteochondrosis

A disease such as thoracic osteochondrosis does not show symptoms immediately, because it develops gradually and over a long period of time. In addition, due to the low mobility of the spine in this area, osteochondrosis of the thoracic region manifests itself in later stages, in the presence of significant pathological changes. In total, there are four stages of pathology, depending on the developed deviations.

Thoracic osteochondrosis of the 1st degree

The preclinical stage is osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine of the 1st degree. In this phase, there is partial dehydration and compaction of the central part of the intervertebral discs, their height decreases, which leads to a decrease in their elasticity and strength. The ability of the spinal column to withstand normal loads is still preserved. Disc bulges begin to form.

Thoracic osteochondrosis 2 degrees

When thoracic osteochondrosis of the 2nd degree develops, the disease is characterized by the appearance of cracks in the fibrous ring. Disc subsidence (thinning) continues, the amount of intervertebral fluid decreases significantly, and the vertebrae begin to rub against each other as the load on the back increases. This stage is sometimes called discogenic radiculitis.

Sitting work is one of the causes of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine

Thoracic osteochondrosis 3 degrees

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine of the 3rd degree is accompanied by the destruction and rupture of the fibrous disc tissue, the release of the core part, i. e. a hernial protrusion of the intervertebral disc occurs. As a result, nerve roots begin to be pinched, nearby vessels are compressed, and veins and arteries are compressed.

Thoracic osteochondrosis 4 degrees

The last, most severe stage of the disease is characterized by movement, twisting, deformation of the vertebral body, further increase in their surface area and proliferation. The affected fibrous disc tissue begins to be replaced by bone tissue in the form of specific growths - osteophytes, which compress the spinal cord. As a result, the mobility of the spine is significantly reduced.

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine - symptoms

Due to the specificity of the localization of pathological processes, osteochondrosis of the thoracic region has typical and atypical symptoms, repeating the manifestations of other diseases. This is due to the fact that due to the compression of blood vessels and nerve fibers, structural changes in the spinal column, the functions of nearby internal organs are disturbed.

Let's list the characteristic and most common symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis:

  • back and chest pain;
  • feeling of tightness in the chest;
  • burning in the limbs;
  • numbness in arms, legs, neck, shoulders;
  • stiffness, pain in the back and limbs;
  • muscle spasms in the upper and middle back;
  • limited mobility of the spine in this area (difficulty in bending the body).

Pain due to osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine

When "thoracic osteochondrosis" is diagnosed, symptoms related to pain come to the fore among other complaints. Their intensity and duration depend on the stage of the pathological process. The localization of pain can occasionally change quickly, for example, moving from one area of the chest to another, covering the entire chest. Pain is often felt in the area between the shoulder blades. The nature of pain in thoracic osteochondrosis is dull, compressive, sharp. Increased pain is observed at night and with:

  • raising hands up;
  • turn the door;
  • carrying heavy objects;
  • sudden movements;
  • increased physical activity;
  • strong breathing, coughing, sneezing;
  • hypothermia.

Can there be shortness of breath in thoracic osteochondrosis?

Due to displacement of the vertebral bodies, pathological changes in the structure of the chest, pinching of nerve fibers and blood vessels connected to the lungs, shortness of breath often occurs in thoracic osteochondrosis. In addition, in the thoracic region there are structures responsible for the innervation of the heart, intestines, liver, kidneys and some other organs; the disease is often accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • headaches, dizziness;
  • pain in the region of the heart;
  • pain in the mammary glands;
  • pain in the hypochondrium (similar to pancreatitis, cholecystitis);
  • epigastric pain not associated with eating;
  • discomfort in the pharynx, esophagus, feeling of a foreign body;
  • sexual dysfunctions.

Pain in the heart in thoracic osteochondrosis, frequent pressing, squeezing, can be misleading when establishing a diagnosis, because it is similar to the manifestations of angina pectoris, myocardial infarction. The characteristic of these sensations is their long duration and lack of effect when taking drugs to dilate heart vessels. There are no changes on the cardiogram.

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine can be manifested by pain in the region of the heart

Syndromes with thoracic osteochondrosis

Symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis in women, associated with one mechanism of origin, are present in many cases in a complex way. There are two syndromes with a set of specific pathological conditions caused by thoracic osteochondrosis:

  • dorsalgia;
  • dorsago.

Dorsalgia of the thoracic spine

Dorsalgia is characterized by long-lasting, poorly expressed pain with thoracic osteochondrosis in women, often characterized as pain, pulling. Discomfort can be present for 2-3 weeks, with the discomfort slowly receding (especially when walking) or intensifying (often at night, when bending over or breathing deeply). In the presence of this syndrome, thoracic osteochondrosis may also have symptoms associated with difficulty breathing and muscle stiffness.

Dorsago thoracic spine

Paroxysmal manifestations of the disease are called "dorsago" or "chest lumbago". In this case, the pain appears suddenly, acutely, often resembling signs of a heart attack. An attack of thoracic osteochondrosis has the following symptoms:

  • sharp, dagger-like pain;
  • pain is felt in the area between the ribs, interscapular area;
  • often the attack appears after a long stay in one position;
  • the pain intensifies when rotating the torso;
  • difficult breathing, strong muscle tension occurs.

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine - consequences

If the treatment of the pathology is not started on time, osteochondrosis of the thoracic region can have the following consequences:

  • vegetative-vascular dystonia;
  • migraine;
  • dysfunction of internal organs (liver, kidneys, etc. );
  • reduced hearing, vision;
  • elbow epicondylitis;
  • paresis and paralysis of hands;
  • rachiocampsis;
  • loss of skin tissue sensitivity;
  • disability etc.
A neurologist examines the back to diagnose thoracic osteochondrosis

How to treat thoracic osteochondrosis?

If symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis appear, a consultation with a neurologist is recommended, who will be able to make a primary diagnosis after examining the back and examining the spine in several positions of the patient. In order to determine the degree of damage, X-ray imaging, magnetic resonance or computer tomography is prescribed. Treatment tactics depend on the results obtained.

Often, painful symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis of the spine are removed by taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In case of exacerbation, accompanied by intense pain, paravertebral blocks can be performed with an anesthetic solution. In addition, the following drugs may be prescribed as part of conservative therapy:

  • muscle relaxants;
  • chondroprotectors;
  • corticosteroids etc.

The following treatment methods are used to improve metabolic processes, remove muscle hypertonicity and prevent various complications:

  • physiotherapy;
  • massage;
  • manual therapy;
  • spinal traction;
  • physiotherapeutic procedures (laser, ultrasound, etc. ).

Surgical treatment is necessary if there is compression of the spinal cord by a fragment of the intervertebral disc. In this case, either laminotomy - excision of the vertebral arches, or discectomy - removal of a part of the intervertebral disc or its complete removal with the installation of a graft can be performed. In clinics with modern equipment, surgical procedures are performed using low-traumatic methods through small incisions.