What is this thoracic osteochondrosis? Predisposing factors for the development of thoracic osteochondrosis Causes contributing to the disease of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine Symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis and its signs Degrees of disease with thoracic osteochondrosis Complications that are possible with thoracic osteochondrosis Diagnosis of thoracic osteochondrosis and its methods Treatment of thoracic osteochondrosis
Osteochondrosis is the most common disease of all diseases of the spine. Since osteochondrosis is directly a dystrophic-degenerative lesion of the discs located between the vertebrae, then, as a consequence, this leads to their irreversible change in the structure, as well as the shape of the discs themselves.
With increasing age of a person, these changes in his spine develop more and more, and by the age of about 40 . . . 45 years, almost everyone suffers from osteochondrosis. By itself, osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine develops much less frequently than, for example, the lumbar or cervical spine, since the vertebrae in it are much less mobile than in other vertebral zones. In addition, the back area in the chest area has a more developed corset of muscles, which supports the spine in the thoracic region much better than in others.
What is this thoracic osteochondrosis?
Thoracic osteochondrosis directly represents a stratification of discs between the vertebrae, with a simultaneous decrease in their thickness and, as a result, the subsequent pinching of the nerve endings located in the intercostal zone of the human chest.
However, we note once again that due to the fact that physiological fixation by the ribs in humans is rather rigid, the spine in the chest area is the least prone to osteochondrosis.
Usually, this pathology process involves the discs between the thoracic vertebrae, which includes twelve thoracic vertebrae. But most often with osteochondrosis of the thoracic region, pathological changes occur in the upper thoracic vertebrae. There are several degrees of lesion with thoracic osteochondrosis, and we will consider them in more detail below.
Predisposing factors for the development of chest osteochondrosis
The exact causes of the occurrence of osteochondrosis of the thoracic region have not yet been fully established by modern science. At the moment, it is customary to distinguish the following predisposing factors in medicine, or the so-called risk factors:
- hereditary predisposition;
- excessive physical activity;
- injury to the spine, such as falls or bruises;
- changes that occur with age in the intervertebral discs and lead to a decrease in hydration in the disc tissues;
- blood supply disorders in the chest area.
Causes contributing to osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine
In general, the development of the disease with osteochondrosis, in general, is promoted by physical inactivity, that is, a lack of muscle loads, leading to a weakening of the functions of the muscular corset and, as a consequence, to an increase in the load on the intervertebral discs and ligaments.
Other, additional reasons for the development of chest osteochondrosis are also:
- the presence of chronic stressful situations;
- past infections;
- difficult physical labor conditions;
- arising hormonal disorders in the body;
- violation of the metabolic process in the body;
- the presence of congenital defects of the spine.
In the course of exposure to a combination of these factors, or sometimes even one, dystrophic-degenerative irreversible processes develop in the discs between the vertebrae over time:
- the nucleus pulposus of the intervertebral disc gradually begins to lose fluid, which was secreted by it to provide a lubricating function, which, ultimately, significantly reduces the amortization function of this disc;
- further, the fibrous ring of the vertebrae themselves, due to the increased load on it, becomes more vulnerable, which in turn leads to its gradual destruction
Symptoms of breast osteochondrosis and its signs
The clinical symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis depend entirely on the following factors:
- patient's age;
- the extent of the disease;
- stages of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine: remission or exacerbation.
The main signs of thoracic osteochondrosis are:
- chest pain in the spine, the so-called dorsago;
- painful damage to the nerve endings of the spinal cord - radiculopathy;
- abdominal syndrome;
- cardiac syndrome or changes in the heart muscle, with characteristic pains that persist even under the influence of nitroglycerin;
- pulmonary syndrome, in the form of congestion in the lungs with signs of hypoxia, that is, suffocation.
An increase in body temperature in a patient with thoracic osteochondrosis is not observed, which is also a direct differential diagnostic sign. Dorsalgia in the chest area indicates the occurrence of cracks in the annulus fibrosus and deformation of the nucleus pulposus. During palpation, the pain in this area of the chest only intensifies.
In addition, the characteristic symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis in compression myelopathy, that is, deformation of the nerve endings, are:
- feeling of "goosebumps" - paresthesia;
- pain along the compressed nerve;
- decrease in temperature and touch sensitivity;
- disorders in the spine of motor function.
Degrees of breast osteochondrosis
Different degrees of the disease with thoracic osteochondrosis are characterized by each with its own pathology, each of which has only its own clinical signs. Modern medicine distinguishes four degrees of osteochondrosis of the thoracic region and, accordingly, four periods of its development. Let's take a closer look at them.
First degree, which is characterized by the fact that cracks appear inside the fibrous ring, into which the nucleus pulposus subsequently penetrates. This period of development of the disease with thoracic osteochondrosis is characterized by the following features:
- the appearance of pain in the spine at the site of its lesion, but not beyond the localization of the onset of the disease;
- these pains can be either permanent or in the form of lumbago;
- convulsive muscle contraction may occur, accompanied by pain in the heart region.
Second degree, as the period of development of thoracic osteochondrosis, is characterized by the pathological occurrence of increased intervertebral mobility with the following clinical manifestations:
- subluxations appear in the thoracic spine;
- pain worse during movement;
- discomfort appears with prolonged posture.
Third degree, characterized by a period when the fibrous ring breaks and, at the same time, the nucleus pulposus extends beyond it. In this period of the disease with osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine, intervertebral hernias begin to appear, the clinical signs of which are rather severe. Namely - neurovascular, muscle-tonic and reflex-dystrophic.
In addition to the above, the third degree of osteochondrosis of the thoracic region is characterized by a change in the following conditions of the spine:
- weak fixation of the spine;
- limitation of mobility of the spine, manifested in the form of kyphosis or scoliosis.
Fourth degree, associated with the period in which the dystrophic-degenerative process already affects all the structures surrounding the spine. In this pathological, yellow, interspinous and other ligaments are involved, and fibrosis occurs in the structures surrounding the spinal column. In this period of the disease with thoracic osteochondrosis, the so-called state of remission is clinically observed.
Complications that are possible with chest osteochondrosis
With further progression of the disease, thoracic osteochondrosis, the development of concomitant complications is possible, such as:
- inflammation of the nerve endings of the spinal cord;
- occurrence of intervertebral hernias;
- development of vegetative-vascular dystonia;
- development of Schmorl's hernia;
- spondyloarthrosis disease;
- pathological growth of bone growths - osteophytes;
- significant reduction in the spinal canal.
It should be noted that the severity of complications arising in thoracic osteochondrosis depends entirely on the rate of progress of the process of the disease that has arisen and, of course, on the effectiveness of methods of treating osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine.
Diagnosis of thoracic osteochondrosis and its methods
In practice, several methods are used to diagnose breast osteochondrosis. Of these, the most common is X-ray examination, the results of which are quite informative. Signs of thoracic osteochondrosis identified in this study are:
- the contours of the discs between the vertebrae are broken;
- the edges of the integumentary plates have acquired a wavy character; the intervertebral discs have changed their shape;
- arisen osteophytes - pathological bone growths;
- the hook-shaped processes of the vertebrae are enlarged and pointed;
- the bodies of the thoracic vertebrae have changed their normal shape;
- the size of the height of the discs between the vertebrae is significantly reduced;
- the resulting herniated discs between the vertebrae.
In some cases, a method of diagnosing thoracic osteochondrosis is practiced by means of an X-ray contrast study, which determines the following signs of this ailment:
- in the case of advanced pathology, the contrast agent fills the disc between the vertebrae completely;
- with the help of contrast medium, the contours of the nucleus pulposus are visible, which are uneven;
- with the destruction of the intervertebral disc to a large extent, the contrast agent penetrates beyond its limits, up to penetration into the spinal canal.
Treatment of chest osteochondrosis
Treatment of thoracic osteochondrosis is possible in one of the following ways, applied taking into account the results of diagnostics of thoracic degenerative disc disease, namely:
- conservative-traditional treatment;
- treatment of breast osteochondrosis with traction;
- surgical intervention.
Nothing new, of course, has not yet been invented here, and as such, the treatment of chest osteochondrosis, called conservative, is already traditional for the treatment of any type of osteochondrosis. In any case, it is always preferable to use a conservative-medication method for treating breast osteochondrosis by prescribing non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs aimed at relieving pain. It should be noted that these medications very well eliminate inflammatory processes, as well as the resulting swelling, helping to reduce the compression of the nerve roots. In more complex cases of breast osteochondrosis, the attending physician may prescribe a number of additional medications, for example, some potent pain relievers and muscle relaxants that block the appearance of muscle spasms.
When the pain recedes or it was managed to stop, that is, during remission, additional physiotherapy treatment is prescribed, as well as, in addition, exercise therapy and massage. The main means of combating and preventing this disease in the treatment of physiotherapy is magnetotherapy through special medical devices, which are successfully used at home.
In addition to the above, traction treatment, that is, the treatment of chest osteochondrosis by means of special traction, can be successfully used for the treatment of chest osteochondrosis. With this method, the paravertebral muscles, tissues and ligaments are stretched, which leads to an increase in the intervertebral distance. Even a millimeter and a half will already be enough to reduce swelling, eliminate compression, as well as relieve tension in the muscles adjacent to the spine.
But surgical intervention is advisable only when the above methods of treating thoracic osteochondrosis do not give the desired result.