Thoracic osteochondrosis - symptoms that not everyone knows about

A characteristic symptom of thoracic osteochondrosis is back pain

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

Thoracic osteochondrosis - causes

Spinal osteochondrosis is a pathology in which negative changes occur in the tissues of the intervertebral discs - elements of the spinal column located between the two vertebral bodies. The intervertebral disc is a kind of flat, round pad made up of a gel-like collagen core, fibrous connective tissue and vitreous cartilaginous tissue. The main functions provided by these structures are:

  • connection and retention of adjacent vertebral bony bodies;
  • shock-absorbing protection of the spine, which protects against injuries due to body gravity and loads;
  • ensure the mobility of adjacent vertebrae relative to each other.

If the intervertebral discs are in satisfactory functional condition, the spine acquires elasticity, mobility and the ability to withstand various mechanical loads. When the cartilage structure changes shape, consistency, loses strength and elasticity, these functions cannot be fully performed. Basically, this happens against the background of metabolic disorders.

Thoracic osteochondrosis, accompanied by damage to the intervertebral discs

In part, 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 nearby structures (ligaments, vertebral bodies). The exact causes of poor nutrition of intervertebral structures and the mechanism of their destruction are unknown, but doctors identify a number of predisposing factors:

  • systemic metabolic disorders in the body;
  • excessive body weight;
  • poor diet, diet;
  • inactivity;
  • sedentary work;
  • bad posture;
  • flat feet;
  • injuries to the back, spine;
  • intense physical work or sports training;
  • pregnancy;
  • wear uncomfortable shoes, high heels.

Degrees 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 poor 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, four degrees of pathology are distinguished, depending on the developed deviations.

Thoracic osteochondrosis 1st degree

The preclinical stage is grade 1 osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine. At this stage, partial dehydration and compaction of the central part of the intervertebral discs occurs, their height decreases, which leads to a decrease in their elasticity and firmness. The ability of the spine to withstand usual loads is still preserved. Disc bulges begin to form.

2nd degree thoracic osteochondrosis

When grade 2 thoracic osteochondrosis develops, the disease is characterized by the appearance of cracks in the fibrous ring. The sagging (thinning) of the discs 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.

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

Thoracic osteochondrosis 3rd degree

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

Thoracic osteochondrosis 4 degrees

The last, most severe stage of the disease is characterized by displacement, torsion, deformation of the vertebral bodies, further increase in their area and proliferation. The fibrous tissue of the affected disc 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 peculiarities of the localization of pathological processes, osteochondrosis of the thoracic region has both typical and atypical symptoms, repeating the manifestations of other diseases. This is due to the fact that due to compression of blood vessels and nerve fibers, structural changes in the spine and the functions of nearby internal organs are disrupted.

We list what symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis are characteristic and most common:

  • back and chest pain;
  • sensation of compression in the chest;
  • tingling sensations in the limbs;
  • numbness in the 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 bending the body).

Pain due to osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine

When "thoracic osteochondrosis" is diagnosed, symptoms associated with pain come to the fore among other ailments. Their intensity and duration depend on the stage of the pathological process. The localization of pain can periodically change rapidly, 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, acute. Increased pain is observed at night and with:

  • raising hands;
  • neck turns;
  • carry heavy objects;
  • sudden movements;
  • increased physical activity;
  • strong breathing, coughing, sneezing;
  • hypothermia.

Can there be shortness of breath with thoracic osteochondrosis?

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

  • headache, dizziness;
  • pain in the heart area;
  • pain in the mammary glands;
  • pain in the hypochondrium (similar to the appearance of pancreatitis, cholecystitis);
  • epigastric pain not associated with eating;
  • discomfort in the pharynx, esophagus, foreign body sensation;
  • sexual dysfunctions.

Heart pain with thoracic osteochondrosis, often pressing, crushing, can be misleading when making a diagnosis, becausesimilar to manifestations of angina pectoris, myocardial infarction. A feature of these sensations is their long duration and lack of effect when taking drugs to dilate the heart vessels. There are no changes in the cardiogram.

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine can manifest itself as pain in the heart area

Syndromes with thoracic osteochondrosis

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

  • dorsalgia;
  • Dorsago.

Dorsalgia of the thoracic spine

Prolonged, not very pronounced pain with thoracic osteochondrosis in women, often characterized by aching, pulling, is inherent in dorsalgia. Complaints may be present for 2-3 weeks, with the discomfort decreasing slightly (especially when walking) or intensifying (often at night, when bending over or breathing deeply). In the presence of this syndrome, thoracic osteochondrosis may also present symptoms associated with difficulty breathing and muscle stiffness.

Dorsago of the thoracic spine

Paroxysmal manifestations of the disease are called "dorsago" or "thoracic lumbago". In this case, the pain appears sudden, sharp, often similar to 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, in the interscapular area;
  • often the attack appears after a long stay in one position;
  • the pain intensifies when you rotate your torso;
  • there is difficulty breathing, severe muscle tension.

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine - consequences

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

  • vegetative-vascular dystonia;
  • migraine;
  • disruption of the functioning of internal organs (liver, kidneys, etc. );
  • decreased hearing, vision;
  • epicondylitis of the elbow joint;
  • paresis and paralysis of the arms;
  • rachiocampus;
  • loss of sensitivity of the skin tissue;
  • disabilities, etc.
A neurologist examines your back to diagnose thoracic osteochondrosis

How to treat thoracic osteochondrosis?

If symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis appear, it is recommended to consult a neurologist who, after examining the back and examining the spine in different positions of the patient, will be able to make a primary diagnosis. To determine the extent of damage, X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography are prescribed. Treatment tactics depend on the results obtained.

Often painful symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis of the spine are eliminated 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 can be prescribed as part of conservative therapy:

  • muscle relaxants;
  • chondroprotectors;
  • corticosteroids, etc.

To improve metabolic processes, eliminate muscle hypertonicity and prevent various complications, the following treatment methods are used:

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

Surgical treatment is necessary in case of compression of the spinal cord by a fragment of the intervertebral disc. In this case, it is possible to perform laminotomy - excision of the vertebral arches or discectomy - removal of part of the intervertebral disc or its complete removal with the installation of a graft. In clinics equipped with modern equipment, surgeries are performed using low-trauma methods through small incisions.