Intercostal neuralgia is a lesion of the thoracic intercostal nerves of a traumatic, inflammatory or compressive nature. The disease is not dangerous, but it is accompanied by paroxysmal excruciating pains, which are often mistaken for heart symptoms. As a rule, intercostal neuralgia affects middle-aged and older people.
Why does pain occur?
Intercostal neuralgia can be caused by a large number of reasons. Often this condition occurs with age-related changes, against the background of diabetes mellitus, deficiency of B vitamins, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract or diseases of the spine. The reasons can be serious diseases such as hepatitis, stomach ulcers, and malignant tumors.
Quite often, neuralgia occurs against the background of advanced osteochondrosis, as a result of compression of the roots of the intercostal nerves by intervertebral hernias. Other possible causes of this disease are hormonal spondylopathy, spondylitis, kyphosis, neoplasms in the spine, ankylosing spondylitis. Traumatic effects, rib fractures, arthrosis of the costal-vertebral joints, microtraumatization during physical exertion, can also lead to intercostal neuralgia.
Diseases of the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis and polyradiculoneuritis, can cause severe pain. Infectious diseases such as flu and tuberculosis can also trigger neuralgia symptoms. An attack can be provoked by a cold, hypothermia, mental stress, excessive physical exertion without the necessary preliminary preparation.
Another cause of damage to the nervous system and neuralgic pain can be long-term medication, poisoning with toxic substances (including alcohol abuse) and inhalation of metal salts. Intercostal neuralgia can be associated with hormonal disorders - during menopause in women, with diseases of the adrenal glands or thyrotoxicosis.
The development of the disease is also possible after a herpes infection. Often, neuralgia occurs as a response to pathological processes in the area of neighboring organs and tissues. Such processes include diseases of the ribs, spine, pleurisy, chest deformity. Intercostal neuralgia can also be caused by surgery on the back or chest, which damages the intercostal nerves.
Diagnostics, treatment and prevention of intercostal neuralgia
The main instrumental methods for diagnosing intercostal neuralgia are computed tomography, ultrasound, radiography, magnetic resonance imaging, myelography, contrast discography, electrospondylography. A manual and neurological examination is mandatory to determine the causes of the disease, muscle tone, localization of pain, impaired sensitivity of the extremities are determined.
Medication depends on the patient's condition and the frequency of pain. Usually, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants are prescribed to relieve muscle spasms. As physical therapy, doctors recommend therapeutic exercises that restore muscle tone.
Prevention of neuralgia includes control over chronic diseases, avoidance of hypothermia and intoxication, a set of health-improving exercises and therapeutic preventive massage with warming ointments. Shown osteopathic therapy, intake of B vitamins.