Osteochondrosis of the chest symptoms and treatment

Disease-chameleon is often called osteochondrosis of the chest. It is quite difficult to diagnose, often confused with other diseases. At the same time, osteochondrosis occurs in the thoracic region infrequently and is a lesion of the intervertebral discs.

How does the disease occur?

damage to the spine and pain in thoracic osteochondrosis

Osteochondrosis, affecting the thoracic spine, is often disguised as a pathology of the internal organs. It is manifested by pain in the heart, shortness of breath, a feeling of lack of air when inhaling, panic attacks. Therefore, the diagnosis of thoracic osteochondrosis is somewhat difficult.

The intervertebral discs of each section of the spine consist of a nucleus pulposus and a stronger annulus fibrosus. The latter protects the semi-liquid core and prevents it from being injured.

However, for certain reasons, there are situations when metabolic processes slow down and, as a result, there is increased pressure on the discs. In this case, the disk is deformed, its structure is disturbed.

If treatment is not started at this stage, the symptoms become even more pronounced. The annulus fibrosus may crack and the nucleus dry out.

The disease leads to infringement of the spinal nerves, destruction of the joints.

Causes of the disease

Various reasons can provoke the appearance of osteochondrosis in the thoracic region, the most common among them are:

  • chest trauma;
  • inactivity, sedentary work (applies to those who work at a computer or are a driver);
  • scoliosis.

In addition, problems with the thoracic region are associated with its structure. In this interval of the spine, there are many more discs crowded than in the lower back or in the cervical region. Due to the presence of ribs and muscle corset, the thoracic region moves less.

There are cases when the main cause of osteochondrosis in the thoracic region of the spine is osteochondrosis of other departments.

What is the danger of osteochondrosis?

If, despite the symptoms, treatment is delayed, osteochondrosis in the thoracic region can lead to a number of complications and problems, including:

  • intercostal neurology - when the intercostal nerves are compressed;
  • spinal cord compression;
  • shortness of breath, problems with the work of the heart;
  • problems with the functioning of the intestines, liver, kidneys;
  • stool problems;
  • hernia.

What diseases can be confused with osteochondrosis?

As mentioned above, the symptoms of osteochondrosis do not always make it possible to quickly establish a diagnosis. That is why osteochondrosis of the chest can be accidentally confused with:

  • pathologies of the mammary glands;
  • diseases of the digestive system;
  • pneumonia (two diseases can be distinguished through a dry cough, shortness of breath and fever with pneumonia. In the case of osteochondrosis, such symptoms are not observed);
  • heart attack (in this case, osteochondrosis can be distinguished through a cardiogram);
  • renal colic.


With osteochondrosis of the thoracic region, symptoms of radiculopathy most often occur, that is, those associated with compression of the nerve trunks and the appearance of a hernia between the vertebrae. In this case, severe pain manifests itself after physical labor, training. Symptoms over the following weeks become more pronounced, depending on the location of the hernia. If in the upper part, then the liver, heart, stomach suffer. If lower, then the problems are related to the kidneys.

pain in the sternum with osteochondrosis

The location of the hernia also has a significant impact on the symptoms. So, if it is located closer to the middle, the pains become stronger, continue for several weeks continuously, and do not decrease after taking medication. Lateral hernia is manifested by periodic and mild pain, local loss of sensitivity is possible.

Osteochondrosis of the chest, which is accompanied by compression of the spinal cord, has the following symptoms:

  • strong pain;
  • numbness of the limbs;
  • pain radiates to the stomach, groin, legs;
  • dysfunction of the pelvic organs.

In addition to the above, osteochondrosis may manifest additional symptoms, in particular:

  • numbness of individual skin areas;
  • feeling of "goosebumps" in the thoracic spine;
  • fragility of nails;
  • dry skin, peeling;
  • disorders of the gastrointestinal tract (diarrhea or, conversely, constipation);
  • giving pain in the throat;
  • itching or feeling of coldness in the lower extremities.

Dorsago as a consequence of osteochondrosis of the thoracic region

Osteochondrosis in the thoracic spine is characterized by the presence of dorsago. This is one of its main symptoms. In fact, the word "dorsago" should be understood as a very strong and sudden pain in the chest. It is often called "shooting", since the sensations in this case are the same as with a through stab wound. A severe attack of dorsago makes it difficult to breathe and makes it impossible to move freely. This happens after prolonged physical exertion in people who already suffer from osteochondrosis and joint diseases.

Slight, but growing and prolonged pain in the thoracic region is called dorsalgia. More pronounced symptoms when a person bends down. The pain can also intensify at night, especially often this happens in women suffering from osteochondrosis who wear shoes with heels.


With thoracic osteochondrosis, effective treatment must be carried out. Symptoms without it will only intensify and interfere with normal life.

MRI diagnosis of thoracic osteochondrosis

Having found out the symptoms, the doctor directs the patient for additional examination. Among the diagnostic methods that are used most often for osteochondrosis of the thoracic region, there are:

  1. MRI. The tomograph makes it possible to obtain a clear three-dimensional image with contrast of the area of the human body being studied. Therefore, the doctor can see the condition of the vertebrae of the thoracic region, assess the health of the joints. The procedure does not take much time (from 20 to 55 minutes) and is painless. The patient needs to expose the thoracic spine and lie on a special couch. The scanner, which is placed on top of the person, at this time takes a photo of the sections.
  2. Ultrasound procedure. Before carrying out treatment, it is worth making sure that osteochondrosis of the thoracic region is not accompanied by tumors. For this, an ultrasound method is suitable. The device clearly shows the condition of soft tissues, joints, intervertebral discs. As in the first case, the procedure does not take much time and is painless. With the help of an ultrasound examination, the thoracic region of pregnant women and even children can be examined.

Of course, no treatment is offered by the doctor until the patient has passed the general clinical blood and urine tests, and also until the results of the electrocardiogram are available. The latter enables the doctor, with similar symptoms, to distinguish chest osteochondrosis from a heart attack or other heart problems.


Turning to a neuropathologist, a patient with thoracic osteochondrosis will receive a recommended course of treatment. Methods and drugs, as well as the duration of their use, is determined by the doctor in each individual case. As a rule, when osteochondrosis is detected in the chest, doctors recommend:

  • drug treatment - its goal is to relieve pain, muscle spasms, reduce the inflammatory process, restore tissues around the joints and vertebrae;
  • physiotherapy - aims to use ultrasonic waves, electric current or a laser in order to relieve sharp pain in the thoracic region and reduce the negative effects of osteochondrosis, provides treatment for the joints;
  • manual therapy - thanks to the massage movements of a specialist, it is possible to align the position of the discs of the thoracic region, relieve spasm;
  • isometric kinesiotherapy (gymnastics treatment) - helps to improve the mobility of the thoracic region, relieves pain.

In addition to the methods described above, the treatment of osteochondrosis can be carried out using hirudotherapy, millimeter wave therapy, apitherapy, magnetic therapy and other methods.