Thoracic osteochondrosis: signs, causes, diagnosis

Osteochondrosis– a set of dystrophic disorders in the articular cartilage. Typically, this disease affects men and women over 30 years of age. But recently it has even been found in teenagers.

Depending on the location of the joint injury, there are cervical, thoracic and lumbar injuries. In most cases, osteochondrosis manifests itself as severe back pain, headaches and dizziness.Osteochondrosis of the thoracic regionIt is less common than cervical, but is no less dangerous due to several complications.

Thoracic spine with signs of osteochondrosis

Thoracic osteochondrosis: what is it?

In thoracic osteochondrosis, pathological changes occur in the spine in the thoracic region. The intervertebral discs are the most affected. The thoracic region is not as mobile as the cervical region, so the characteristic symptoms of the disease are not immediately noticeable. The diagnosis is already made in the later stages of the disease.

Dystrophic disorders affect the cartilage and connective tissue of the muscle, which causes complications and gives rise to other serious diseases.

Patients are accustomed to treating osteochondrosis lightly, but without timely treatment, thoracic osteochondrosis can be dangerous to health. The disease often affects both the cervical and thoracic spine, which affects quality of life.

What are the degrees?

Treatment of the disease begins with diagnosis and determination of its stage.

  1. In the first phasepeople usually do not notice any changes, pain does not appear, but the intervertebral discs begin to lose their elasticity, characteristic protrusions appear when the disc protrudes into the spinal canal without rupture of the fibrous ring.
  2. In the second stage– the disease progresses, pain, dizziness and other neurological symptoms appear. Intervertebral discs are even less elastic, there is a danger of bulging into the spinal canal with rupture of the fibrous ring - a hernia is formed.
  3. In the third phasethe pain causes a lot of inconvenience and is aggravated by the appearance of a hernia.
  4. Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine infourth stageCharacterized by progressive neurological symptoms, the intervertebral discs completely lose their firmness and elasticity. The destruction of the vertebrae begins.
In the second stage of thoracic osteochondrosis, back pain appears

It is impossible to determine osteochondrosis by external signs, although it often accompanies another pathology of the spine - scoliosis, which is noticeable upon visual examination.

What could be the reasons

The cause of disorders occurring in the spine is insufficient nutrition of the cartilage and vertebrae. It is impossible to say exactly why such a malfunction occurs in the functioning of the body.However, there are many factors that contribute to this:

  1. A sedentary lifestyle and, as a consequence, weak back muscles.
  2. Bad posture, uncomfortable posture.
  3. Various back injuries, inappropriate lifting of weights (pushing from the floor), intense physical activity.
  4. Lifting weights is a cause of the development of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine
  5. Other spinal diseases.
  6. Inadequate nutrition, lack of essential vitamins and minerals in the diet, especially calcium, necessary for the formation of healthy bone tissue.
  7. Pregnancy. Women often notice signs of osteochondrosis of the thoracic region during pregnancy, when the load on the spine increases, in addition, due to additional resource costs, the body often lacks vitamins and minerals.
  8. Heredity. If you have relatives who suffer from this disease, the likelihood of developing it increases. In this case, you need to worry about prevention.

Often, when making a diagnosis, doctors identify a combination of factors: sedentary work, inappropriate and frequent lifting of weight, and poor posture.

Symptoms of osteochondrosis of the thoracic region

At an early stage, the disease does not manifest itself in any way. Often, even before a pronounced pain syndrome, neurological disorders appear (dizziness, spots in the eyes, etc. ), which the patient does not associate with back problems. People begin to suspect back problems when pain occurs. Let's look at the main signs of thoracic osteochondrosis:

  1. Sharp and intense pain in the upper thoracic region, which worsens after exercise, hard work, or being in an awkward position. It may be accompanied by shortness of breath, coughing and breathing problems.
  2. Feeling cold in your hands and feetfor no reason, numbness of the limbs.
  3. Headache, dizziness, blurry eyes, blurred vision, feeling tired, shortness of breath. When intervertebral discs are displaced, nerve endings and blood vessels are compressed, which is why neurological symptoms occur.

Thoracic osteochondrosis causes patients to feel pain in the heart or stomach area, which makes diagnosing the disease very difficult.

These are the main signs indicating intervertebral osteochondrosis. Some patients experience pain in the gastrointestinal tract and heart, which often leads to an incorrect diagnosis. The nature of the pain also varies. For example, some patients experience long-lasting, non-acute pain -back painor, conversely, intense pain that stiffens muscles and makes breathing difficult -back.

These sensations can be felt in the stomach area, the patient misinterprets them and is sent for examination of the liver, pancreas, etc. , without suspecting that the cause of the pain is osteochondrosis of the thoracic region. With the combination of different forms of chondrosis - cervical and thoracic - people complain of a feeling of a foreign body in the throat, which becomes pronounced after physical exertion or after being in an uncomfortable position.

Thoracic osteochondrosis is accompanied by back - sharp pain that contracts the muscles


  • During the development of the disease, accompanying diseases are added to the main disease. Thus, prolonged compression of blood vessels in the spinal region leads tofailures of the cardiovascular system, which in particularly severe cases can disrupt the functioning of the heart.
  • Another common complication, especially when combining the thoracic and cervical forms of osteochondrosis, isvegetative-vascular dystonia. Compression of blood vessels and nerve endings disrupts the proper nutrition of the brain, causing patients to experience severe, prolonged headaches, dizziness, a feeling of fog in the eyes, and blurred vision. In advanced cases, fainting may occur due to back disease.
  • From the nervous system possiblepanic attacks, which occur during excessive mental or physical stress, severe fatigue. At such moments, patients notice rapid heartbeat and breathing problems: it is difficult to breathe, there is not enough air.
  • Another complication that causes difficulties not only for patients, but also for doctors isintercostal neuralgia.Compression of the nerve roots of the thoracic spine produces a specific pain syndrome, reminiscent of sensations associated with heart disease. Patients come to the doctor with heart problems, which makes diagnosis difficult. This disease accompanies various pathologies of the spine, but, as a rule, its symptoms disappear with the start of treatment.

If you do not pay attention to the development of breast osteochondrosis, after some time it will begin to significantly affect the quality of life, limiting activity and range of motion.

Diagnosis of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine using computed tomography


Doctors are prevented from making a correct diagnosis by the variety of symptoms, as a result of which they often suspect disorders in the gastrointestinal tract or nervous system. To avoid mistakes, orthopedists or neurologists order an x-ray of the thoracic spine and, often, an MRI or CT scan is performed to clarify the diagnosis.

To rule out heart disease, the patient is given an ECG. Treatment is prescribed only after diagnosis.

Treatment of osteochondrosis of the thoracic region

Unfortunately, this disease cannot be cured. When pain occurs, the changes that have occurred in the spine cannot be corrected. However, modern medicine can alleviate pain and thus improve quality of life. Correctly selected therapy and a healthy lifestyle can prevent exacerbations.

Treatment involves several factors that work together. To alleviate symptoms and prevent the situation from worsening, medications and physiotherapy are generally used. Surgery is only necessary if a herniated disc develops. There are dozens of home treatments, but each of them must be discussed with your doctor to avoid worsening the condition.

Drug treatment

Medicines to relieve inflammation and relieve pain in thoracic osteochondrosis

Medicines for osteochondrosis are used to relieve pain, for this purpose anti-inflammatory analgesics are often used. In later stages or in cases of severe exacerbation, the patient receives anesthetic block. To alleviate neurological symptoms, take medications to improve cerebral circulation.


Effective non-drug ways to relieve pain and tension in back muscles: magnetic therapy, laser therapy, acupunctureand so on. After just a few thorough procedures, a positive result will be noticeable. Use only after consulting a doctor!


The most popular and affordable home method. Massage relieves muscle tension, which relieves pain. The best results can be obtained from specialists, but self-massage in the collar area will also bring benefits. The impact on the muscles helps relax the painful area. It is advisable to carry out massages in courses.

Exercise therapy

The osteochondrosis treatment complex includes physiotherapy. Moderate exercise strengthens the back muscles and improves spinal flexibility and mobility. Regular physical exercise will help prevent exacerbations of the disease or even delay the appearance of the first symptoms by decades. Many doctors recommend the doctor's method, which offers its own program to help fight disease with the help of specialized fitness equipment.

Each treatment method hascontraindications, before use, consultation with a doctor is required. Also, with a complex effect on the disease, vitamin and mineral complexes are used to restore adequate nutrition to cartilage tissue and joints.

What to do in case of exacerbation of osteochondrosis

An exacerbation of osteochondrosis takes you by surprise: you need to go to work, but your back does not straighten, it is difficult to turn your neck and you feel dizzy. It usually occurs as a result of excessive physical exertion, prolonged stay in an uncomfortable position (sitting in front of the computer, working in garden beds, etc. ). An exacerbation is characterized by severe back pain or headache, limited movement, dizziness or even fainting.

What actions should you take to alleviate these symptoms? Gentle exercise, massage and sleeping outdoors help. Severe pain is treated with medication. Only a doctor prescribes medication! When using medications, improvement occurs within two hours.

Folk remedies

Despite their availability, folk remedies also need to be used with caution. They all aim to get rid of pain. For this, various compresses are used, for example, made from grated raw potatoes with honey. The paste is applied to the wound and wrapped in film. The compress should be left for several hours, preferably overnight, and then rinsed off.

Infusion based on chamomile flowers for symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis

To alleviate neurological symptoms and manifestations of vegetative-vascular dystonia, infusions of soothing herbs help: chamomile, lemon balm, sage, mint, lingonberry leaf.

There are contraindications, it is necessary to consult a specialist.

In the fight against osteochondrosis, only a set of procedures will help: proper nutrition, physiotherapy, massage, avoiding excessive physical activity and an active lifestyle. If the disease makes itself felt, it will not be possible to get rid of it completely, but it is possible to bring the disease into a state of long-term remission.