Osteochondrosis is one of the most frequently diagnosed spinal pathologies. This pathology has a degenerative-dystrophic nature, affects the intervertebral discs, which leads to their structural and external changes. Doctors define three types of disease: cervical, thoracic and lumbar osteochondrosis, depending on the location of the disorders in the spine. If we talk about the statistics of the identified pathologies, it is believed that thoracic osteochondrosis is less common than the other types. This is due to the peculiarities of the structure of the human spine in the thoracic region: the intervertebral discs in this part of the back have limited mobility, which significantly reduces the likelihood of their traumatic injury.
What is Thoracic Osteochondrosis
Identifying the disease is difficult, as its symptoms often resemble pathological changes in other organs: heart, stomach, and so on. Thoracic osteochondrosis is dangerous in its consequences, so its early detection offers more chances for timely correction and prevention of undesirable consequences. The disease is diagnosed with equal frequency in patients of both sexes of different ages, including children. Let us take a closer look at the causes of thoracic osteochondrosis, its symptoms, methods of treatment with medications and at home.
Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine manifests as degenerative-dystrophic disorders in the bone structure, cartilaginous tissue of the vertebrae, which causes the development of destructive processes in the vertebrae. In addition to the vertebrae themselves, the intervertebral discs suffer: they stratify, shrink in size, as the nerve endings in the intercostal space are pinched. All of these together affect the normal functioning of the spine. Treatment started at the wrong time aggravates the situation, which is then resolved exclusively with the aid of a surgical operation, which cannot always be resolved by the patient for various reasons.
Osteochondrosis of the chest can lead to the development of very serious and dangerous diseases and conditions. It frequently becomes the cause of pneumosclerosis, narrowing of blood vessels, dysfunctions of the genitourinary system, cancerous pathologies, etc. If osteochondrosis progresses quickly, this often limits a person's physical abilities: it is difficult for him to walk, work and work freely in usual activities.
With the development of osteochondrosis in patients, initially the bone component of the vertebrae is affected, then the cartilaginous component, and finally the connective tissue and adjacent muscles.
If the signs of osteochondrosis appear in childhood or adolescence, adolescence, then this is a dangerous situation, as it indicates that the person's musculoskeletal system has started to age without being fully formed and developed. Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine in a child is rarely diagnosed. But the disease detected usually indicates that some other dangerous disease exists.
The pathology is found with approximately equal frequency in men and women. There are also no age-specific priorities. But it is important to note that women are more prone to the disease during the period of hormonal changes in the body - menopause.
If you start treatment for osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine in the early stages, there is a much greater chance that the therapy will work positively.
The degree of the disease and characteristic symptoms
The development of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine is gradual, several stages are different. For the correct organization of the treatment process, it is necessary to understand the mechanisms of its development and progression.
- The early stage of degenerative dystrophic processes that occur in the spine is characterized by a slight decrease in the size of the intervertebral discs. Small cracks begin to appear on the fibrous ring surfaces of the intervertebral discs. The disc may be slightly outside the spine. At the same time, first-degree thoracic osteochondrosis does not reveal itself as painful sensations, often the person is not aware of an incipient dangerous disease. With the help of computed tomography, the protrusion of the discs (their slight loss) is detected.
- If a person has grade 2 thoracic osteochondrosis, painful manifestations begin to appear in the back, in the chest region. This is explained by the fact that the nerve fibers are pinched. The musculoskeletal system of the back, that is, the muscular corset, provides optimal support for the spine in anatomically correct form. To prevent spinal instability, it is extremely important to symmetrically shape the muscle structures of the back. Otherwise, there is not only a violation of posture, curvature of the spine, but also excessive mobility of its individual elements. It is due to the increased mobility of the vertebrae that the nerve fibers that exit the spine through the intervertebral space are compressed. How does osteochondrosis manifest itself in the second stage? Back pain in the second stage of thoracic osteochondrosis necessarily appears. It has different characteristics: it can pull for a long period of time or for a short term, in the form of seizures. The situation is aggravated by the fact that the nerve endings are compressed directly into the muscles, which are regularly raised in pitch.
- The morphological signs of third-degree thoracic osteochondrosis are very pronounced, affecting all structural anatomical components of the spine. The patient presents the following pathological condition: there are hernias and protrusions of the intervertebral discs, the muscles and ligaments become inflamed, lacerations appear, the vertebrae are displaced, and signs of arthrosis of the vertebral joints develop. The clinical picture of spinal disease in the third stage is very diverse. In addition to the fact that the person actually feels pain in thoracic osteochondrosis, the patient loses the tactile reaction of the part of the body through which the injured nerve passes; he has disorders of the autonomic nervous system, which are accompanied by dysfunction of the respiratory and circulatory systems. He finds it difficult to breathe, there is heart pain, arrhythmia, shortness of breath. In addition, the patient develops arthrosis of several joints at the same time, and pathological disturbances in the functioning of the organs that are in the chest region begin. Similar symptoms appear when the intervertebral fissure decreases by two-thirds of its height. Its size is assessed by a chest X-ray, which is taken in two projections: straight and lateral.
- With the development of degenerative processes in the spine up to fourth-degree osteochondrosis, the intervertebral cleft narrows to a minimal distance, dangerous conditions such as spondylosis, spondyloarthrosis (characterized by pathological changes in the intervertebral joints), spondylolisthesis (the vertebrae are twisted or dislocated) develop. The body mobilizes its compensatory capacities to reduce the static and dynamic load on the spine, to prevent injuries to the anatomical elements, due to which the vertebrae grow, flatten and grow together. The damaged area of the fibrous ring is replaced by a bony structure, osteophytes (bone bulges) are formed, due to the prolapsed vertebral disc, the spinal cord narrows, the nerve endings are tightly compressed, the motor activity of the thorax spinal column is significantly limited, the person constantly hurts in the chest region in the back.
- As the disease progresses, the patient has low back pain in the lower back (low back pain), the legs are totally or partially paralyzed, the person loses the ability to work, is incapacitated.
Various symptomatic manifestations of the disease depend on various reasons, including a person's genetic predisposition. The same symptoms of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine fail in different patients in different ways. There is an objective explanation for this: various causes, conditions of occurrence and the general state of human health lead to osteochondrosis. Symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis in men appear a little earlier than in women. The main reason for this phenomenon is in the physiological structure of the female body: the hormone estrogen protects the intervertebral discs, therefore, especially favorable conditions for the disease arise during changes in the hormonal background (during pregnancy, menopause).
Many are interested in whether they will be admitted to the army with osteochondrosis. If the recruit has first-degree osteochondrosis, he will be drafted into the army. In case a young person has a pronounced symptomatology of the disease, seen by a neuropathologist, then it is likely a delay, in a neglected state (if there is polysegmental osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine), they may not even call .
Reasons for Appearance
Thoracic osteochondrosis at the beginning of its occurrence practically does not manifest itself at all. However, you need to know why it might show up. The following reasons cause pathology:
- Regular static or dynamic overstrain of the spine due to active strength training in professional athletes or people involved in sports without the necessary load control.
- Traumatic damage to bone, articular elements of the spine often lead to the fact that they do not fuse properly, they quickly collapse. Any spinal cord injury is aggravated by pathological changes in the functioning of the structures of the nervous and circulatory systems. The necessary supply of nutrients to the bones is often restored over a long period of time.
- Poor posture, congenital or acquired curvature of the spine, which leads to an unbalanced effect on the intervertebral discs.
- Abrupt lifting of weights, when most of the load falls on the chest region on the back. If a person performs these movements constantly, the probability of developing thoracic osteochondrosis is high.
- Disorders of the endocrine system. In the event that metabolic processes are disturbed in the body, all other organs and tissues do not receive the necessary nutrients, and their regeneration is also incorrect.
- Genetic prerequisites for possible pathological processes in vertebrae, intervertebral discs. In this case, thoracic osteochondrosis manifests itself in absolutely any age group.
- Insufficient physical and physical activity of a person, sedentary work. The muscular structure of the back in this situation weakens, tissue nutrition deteriorates, spinal flexibility decreases, and the risk of developing thoracic osteochondrosis increases significantly.
- Underdevelopment of all the tissues of the musculoskeletal system, which causes degenerative disorders in the spine. The cause is an excessive and unbalanced load on the spine.
- Various pathological changes in intervertebral discs. They can become thinner or, on the contrary, grow, osteophytes can appear in them, interfering with the functioning of the joints, besides damaging the blood vessels and exerting compression on the nerve fibers. The development of intervertebral hernias often causes the progression of osteochondrosis.
- Inflammatory processes in the spine or nearby muscles often cause signs of thoracic osteochondrosis in women and men.
- Impaired blood supply to the spinal cord due to the fact that the veins and arteries are narrowed or compressed.
- The consequences of infectious diseases are the development or exacerbation of osteochondrosis.
- Hypothermia, abuse of bad habits, nutritional imbalance.
- Separately, psychosomatics is distinguished, that is, constant stress, nervous excitement can also cause osteochondrosis.
There are several reasons for the development of thoracic osteochondrosis, therefore, to prevent its development, it is necessary to pay attention to prevention.
The symptoms of breast osteochondrosis in women and men are similar. Typically, a progressive disease during an exacerbation is manifested by the following symptoms.
- Severe pain in the thoracic spine. They arise from a long stay in an uncomfortable position during physical work.
- Root syndrome as a result of compression of nerve endings.
- Intercostal neuralgia.
- The appearance of spasms in the back muscles.
- Altered state of the heart muscle, in which pain is not relieved with the use of special medications.
In addition, during an attack of thoracic osteochondrosis, the patient may experience atypical symptoms: tachycardia, dizziness, heartburn, an increase or decrease in blood pressure. Body temperature, as a rule, does not change.
If the doctor assumes that the patient has osteochondrosis, he will propose the following studies to diagnose the condition.
- X-ray examination, during which they determine: the limits and size of the intervertebral discs, existing bone growths, changes in the shape of the vertebrae, etc.
- Contrast radiography allows us to assess the degree of destruction of the discs in the diagnosis of osteochondrosis of the thoracic region.
- Computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging shows a layer-by-layer view of altered structures. These techniques are used in the most difficult situations.
- With the help of electromyography, the neurological signs associated with a disease in the thoracic region are differentiated.
The main rules of treatment
When treating osteochondrosis of the thoracic region, the following key points are noted:
- With the initial manifestations of the signs of osteochondrosis, you can prevent its development by correcting your posture.
- Any symptoms of the disease, even minor ones, require conservative therapy.
- Achieving a positive treatment outcome requires systemic and long-term application of techniques in addition to drug therapy.
- If the disease is neglected, surgery will be necessary.
When deciding how to treat osteochondrosis of the thoracic region, the physician will take into account the stage of development of the disease, the individual characteristics of the patient, as well as possible side reactions in the body.
Conservative therapy involves the use of the following groups of drugs.
- To reduce the manifestation of pain and inflammation, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics, or glucocorticosteroids are prescribed. They are available in different pharmacological forms (tablets, injectable solutions, ointments), so what exactly to treat the disease, the doctor will advise.
- Chondroprotectors are used to stimulate the restoration of cartilage tissue.
- To relieve muscle spasms, antispasmodics and muscle relaxants are used.
- To alleviate excruciating back pain, the patient may be offered to give injections for osteochondrosis - to make a blockage with the help of anesthetic medications.
As a combination treatment for thoracic osteochondrosis, the possibilities of the following additional treatment methods are widely used.
- With the help of acupuncture, you can quickly get the result - pain relief. The advantages of the technique include: high efficiency in a short time, rare occurrence of body side reactions, insignificant list of contraindications, painless technique. Acupuncture is not practiced if a person is diagnosed with the presence of malignant neoplasms, there are mental disorders, during an exacerbation of inflammation and pregnancy. The duration of treatment is individually selected.
- Through the possibilities of manual therapy, it improves the blood supply to the injured areas of the body, decreases the intensity of pain, muscle spasm is eliminated, ligaments are restored, the development of osteochondrosis slows down.
- The treatment of osteochondrosis with the help of physiotherapy is practiced everywhere, because with them, medications are injected into the painful area. This is how, for example, electrophoresis with NSAIDs, glucocorticosteroids, etc. is used. In addition to electrophoresis, UHF, magnetotherapy and vacuum are often prescribed. The main objective, which is achieved by physical therapy techniques, is to improve blood circulation in the painful area.
- To relieve spasms in the back muscles, a series of massages is often prescribed. Classic massage is used during remission and vibratory massage - in an acute period. If the patient has an intervertebral hernia, the use of massage techniques is not recommended.
- Physical therapy is of great importance in the treatment. The specific set of exercises in each case is selected by the physician individually.
- During osteochondrosis treatment, diet is important. In the patient's diet, it is essential to include proteins in the necessary amount, chondroitin (for this it is necessary to ingest jellies, gelatinous meats, aspic dishes), vegetables, fruits. You cannot overeat; excludes the use of fried and fatty foods.
How to Treat Thoracic Osteochondrosis at Home
Treatment with folk remedies can also be practiced, but before using any of them, you should consult your doctor. The following recipes are popular.
- To prepare an infusion of celery root, take 3-4 g of raw material, grind, pour 1 liter of boiling water. After 8 hours, filter the infusion, drink up to three times a day with a dessert spoon.
- To prepare the broth, take 2-3 sunflower roots, cut them into pieces of about 1 cm, pour 3 liters of boiling water and boil for another 3 minutes. The medicine is used like tea.
- At home, you can prepare an ointment to rub the wounds. 150g of pork fat are mixed with 2 tbsp. me. wax, heated for 20 minutes in a water bath, then add 1 tbsp. me. fir oil, continue to heat the same amount and add 1 tbsp. me. ammonia. The product is stored in a glass container in a cool place.
Home treatment of thoracic osteochondrosis is usually used in the mild period or as an adjunct to medications during an exacerbation.
Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine is a disease that must be taken seriously to avoid negative consequences. For your successful treatment, you must carefully consider a doctor's advice and follow it with discipline.