Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine: symptoms and treatment

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine is a rare disease. However, it is considered quite dangerous. Pathology is difficult to diagnose. This leads to the fact that the disease is detected in the last stages of progression. And treating a neglected disease is an extremely difficult task.

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine

Thoracic osteochondrosis is a pathology characterized by the development of degenerative and dystrophic processes. Against their background, structural changes occur in the bones and muscles. If such an ailment is not treated in a timely manner, then a progressive disease destroys joints, intervertebral discs.

Osteochondrosis of the chest is much less common than in the cervical or lumbar region. Such "selectivity" is dictated by the anatomical structure of this department.

The thoracic region is characterized by the following features:

  • large and powerful vertebrae;
  • small load on the thoracic region;
  • connection with ribs provides sufficient mobility and strength of the structure;
  • strong muscular corset holding the skeleton.

According to statistics, pathology affects both men and women equally. It can even be diagnosed in children.

Reasons for the development of the disease

Pathology is most often detected in people prone to hypodynamia. So, osteochondrosis is diagnosed in women who are forced to spend a lot of time at the computer or in men who are constantly driving.

The main reasons that provoke the development of the disease are as follows:

  • hereditary predisposition;
  • congenital or acquired pathologies in the intervertebral discs;
  • destruction of cartilage, the presence of osteophytes;
  • thinning discs;
  • violation in the blood supply to the brain (with narrowing, clamping of veins, arteries);
  • hernia development;
  • incorrect weight lifting;
  • dystrophic processes occurring in cartilage, muscles, bones;
  • uneven load on the discs as a result of curvature of the spine;
  • disturbed mineral metabolism;
  • prolonged sitting, especially in an uncomfortable position;
  • errors in active or power sports;
  • suffered injuries (falls, various bruises, blows).

Degrees of pathology

Depending on the progression of the degenerative-dystrophic process, the disease is classified into 4 stages.

So, analyzing the signs of osteochondrosis of the thoracic region, the following degrees are distinguished:

  1. Discs lose their original elasticity. Their height is reduced. Sometimes there are protrusions of the discs - protrusions. It is important to start treating the disease at this stage. A good therapeutic effect will provide special exercises, massage.
  2. The height of the intervertebral discs continues to decline. Their elasticity deteriorates. The spinal column becomes unstable. Such a clinic can provoke a rupture of the fibrous ring, against which a hernia will appear. The second degree is characterized by the presence of pain. There are neurological symptoms that most women interpret as completely different pathologies.
  3. A hernia is forming. Symptoms of osteochondrosis are pronounced. Patients are in severe pain.
  4. At 4 degrees of progression, the disc loses its cushioning properties. The vertebrae are as close as possible. Mobility in this area is completely lost. Nerves get pinched from time to time. Bone tissues are destroyed.


Signs of pathology are usually not pronounced. Symptoms are quite nonspecific and very diverse. Therefore, the disease, even experts, is sometimes confused with other ailments.

Thoracic osteochondrosis is manifested by 2 syndromes:

  1. Dorsago. This condition is characterized by a sharp, piercing pain in the sternum. Most often, the phenomenon is observed in people who are in one position for a long time or perform monotonous movements.

    Dorsago is characterized by the following signs of thoracic osteochondrosis:

    • between the shoulder blades there is a strong sharp pain (it is called "chest backache");
    • muscle tissue is overly tense;
    • there is difficulty in breathing;
    • pain syndrome resembles intercostal neuralgia;
    • discomfort extends to the ribs, sternum, shoulder blade;
    • rotational movements of the upper body lead to increased pain.

    The symptoms characteristic of dorsago are very similar to those of a myocardial infarction. It is possible to correctly determine the source of the negative clinic only after an electrocardiogram.

  2. Characteristic signs of thoracic osteochondrosis in a man
  3. Dorsalgia. Discomfort appears imperceptibly, gradually increasing. The clinical symptoms of dorsalgia can last for 2-3 weeks, seriously complicating the patient's normal life.

    The syndrome is manifested by a combination of such signs:

    • unexpressed pain in the affected area;
    • certain movements and exercises lead to increased discomfort (leaning forward, backward, to the side);
    • significantly limited range of motion;
    • a deep breath is accompanied by increased pain;
    • muscle spasms;
    • feeling of lack of air;
    • discomfort is most pronounced at night;
    • after a short walk the pain subsides.

    Dorsalgia in its manifestations is similar to pneumonia. But the latter is characterized by pulmonary symptoms: hyperthermia, shortness of breath, cough.

With osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine, the patient may experience numerous symptoms that can rarely be associated with a joint problem:

  • some parts of the body become numb;
  • fragility of nails;
  • there is a feeling of "crawling crawling";
  • pain in the esophagus, sometimes in the throat;
  • limbs feel cold;
  • there is a burning sensation, excruciating itching in the legs;
  • disorders of the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract;
  • peeling of the skin.

Treatment Methods

If the disease is not treated in a timely and correct manner, then the patient may develop unpleasant consequences.

Thoracic osteochondrosis can become a source of the following ailments:

  • intercostal hernia;
  • disc protrusion;
  • pathologies of the heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas, intestines, gall;
  • intercostal neuralgia.

Pathology can lead to infertility, both in women and in the strong half of humanity. The fight against the disease must be complex and long-term.

It is impossible to completely cure a complex pathology. After all, the degenerative process (disc destruction) is already running.

But if you start to treat the disease correctly, then therapy allows you to:

  1. stop the destruction of disks and restore them to some extent;
  2. eliminate pathologies in the work of the nervous system;
  3. restore the biomechanics of the spinal column.
A woman is undergoing treatment for osteochondrosis of the thoracic region

Treatment of thoracic osteochondrosis includes the following activities:

  • drug therapy;
  • exercise therapy complex (exercises to ensure mobility);
  • physiotherapy;
  • massage.

Medical treatment

The main objective of drug therapy is pain relief.

Therapy of pathology is carried out with such medicines:

  1. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The main group of drugs recommended for osteochondrosis. Medicines relieve pain, relieve inflammation.
  2. Glucocorticosteroids. If the use of NSAIDs did not give a stable positive effect, hormonal agents are prescribed. Their goal is to eliminate pain.
  3. Diuretics. Diuretics are prescribed to relieve swelling.
  4. Chondroprotectors. Such medicines contribute to the restoration of damaged cartilage.

Doctors do not recommend treating osteochondrosis in the thoracic region with various creams or ointments. In this area there is a thick layer of muscles and a rib cage. They will not provide the necessary substances to the source of the problem. But if the pathology is complicated by intercostal neuralgia, then at home it is recommended to use local remedies based on anti-inflammatory substances.

Patients diagnosed with osteochondrosis should always have effective analgesics with them in order to quickly eliminate unpleasant symptoms at home.

Complex exercise therapy

The patient must be prescribed gymnastics.

Therapeutic exercises are aimed at providing such functions:

  • increase mobility in the vertebrae of the thoracic region;
  • get rid of muscle spasms;
  • eliminate spinal stiffness;
  • strengthen the muscular corset.

The first lessons should take place under the supervision of an experienced instructor. In the future, exercises can be performed independently at home.

The following exercises are useful (they can be easily performed at home):

  1. Sitting on a chair (necessarily with a low back). The shoulder blades should be in contact with the back. You need to slowly bend your back to notice the wall.
  2. Continuing to sit on a chair, hands are folded between the knees. Inhale - tilt to one side with the body. Exhale - return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise on the other side.
  3. On inhalation, you need to bend. While exhaling, straighten your back. Breathing should be calm and even.

All exercises are performed smoothly. As soon as the complex is fully mastered, you can try an increased load at home (after consulting with the instructor).


Such an event is assigned individually. The doctor, recommending massage, takes into account contraindications and the presence of chronic ailments in the patient. The procedure can be performed both in the hospital and at home.

Massage procedures allow you to achieve the following therapeutic effects:

  • reduce pain syndromes;
  • normalize microcirculation in the affected area;
  • protect the spine from further atrophy;
  • improve drive power;
  • relax static muscles in the affected area;
  • activate the natural processes of cartilage regeneration.
A woman undergoes a massage course to eliminate thoracic osteochondrosis


People who are diagnosed with thoracic osteochondrosis are recommended alternative, hardware-based treatment. Some physiotherapy is prescribed.

The following methods are in demand:

  • electrophoresis;
  • vacuum therapy;
  • direct stretch;
  • magnetopuncture;
  • acupuncture;
  • laser puncture;
  • osteopathy;
  • electrical stimulation.

Osteochondrosis of the chest is an extremely serious pathology that can not only lead to disability, but also adversely affect the internal organs. Therefore, with such a disease, treatment should be selected only by a doctor. At the same time, the therapy itself is excellent at home.