Intercostal neuralgia is a pathological process characterized by a lesion or inflammation of the nerve endings passing between the ribs. With this pathology, the patient has strong and painful pain.
The main clinical symptom of this pathology is severe pain in the thoracic spine. Pain in the nature of occurrence are different (sharp, oppressive, aching, baking, with a constant feeling or with periods of calm), which is why the clinic of this pathology is often confused with other diseases. As a rule, the discomfort is aggravated by coughing, sneezing, laughing, during inhalation and exhalation. On palpation between the ribs, there is a sharp pain in the area of nerve damage. Pain may radiate to the neck, lower back, scapula.
In rare cases, intercostal neuralgia is characterized by the manifestation of such symptoms:
- Hyperemia of the skin or, conversely, its excessive pallor
- Paresthesia in the area of nerve damage (crawling feeling)
- Feeling of twitching of some muscles.
The main causes of intercostal neuralgia are:
- Permanent hypothermia
- The presence in the body of foci of chronic infection
- Spinal and chest injuries
- Oncological tumors of the thoracic spine
- Poisoning of the body with toxic substances
- Diseases of the small intestine, leading to impaired absorption of B vitamins
- Progressive osteochondrosis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Stress and Chronic Fatigue
With the clinical symptoms of intercostal neuralgia, the patient should be carefully examined to exclude pneumonia, heart attack, pneumothorax (accumulation of air in the pleural cavity). Diagnosis includes:
- Electrocardiogram – performed to exclude pathologies on the part of the cardiovascular system
- X-ray of the spinal column
- General and biochemical blood tests
- Ultrasound diagnostics
- CT scan
- Myelography – a study with which you can determine the state of the nerve roots.
If you let the disease take its course and do not seek medical help, serious complications develop:
- Hypoxia of nerves and nerve roots (oxygen starvation), resulting in innervation (conduction of nerve impulses to the organs)
- Restriction of movements in the affected area
- Chronic neuralgia (pain along the nerve)
- Impaired respiratory function, up to a complete cessation of breathing.
Treatment of intercostal neuralgia in the first place is to eliminate pain. To do this, the doctor selects analgesics that can stop the attack of pain.
To relieve muscle spasm in the area of nerve infringement, the patient is shown to take muscle relaxants. With severe pain, the patient is lidocaine blockade along the affected nerve.
Often, neuralgia is accompanied by severe tissue swelling. To reduce the manifestations of pathology and relieve pain, diuretic drugs and medications that increase microcirculation in the affected area of the body are prescribed to the patient.
To restore the affected nerve, the patient is prescribed a course of vitamin therapy. B vitamins restore the nerve sheath and make it stronger and more resistant to lesions.
At the time of therapy, the patient needs to reconsider his wardrobe: it is better to refuse to wear tight-fitting outfits and squeezing bras. Cramped things can aggravate the course of the disease.
At risk for the development of neuralgia are:
- People who suffered spinal injuries and rib fractures
- People exposed to constant hypothermia
- People with curvature of the spine
- Pregnant women
- Patients with diabetes
- People with osteochondrosis
- People with an unstable psyche and frequent mood swings.
One of the methods of preventing the development of intercostal neuralgia is regular exercise. It is very important to prevent hypothermia and stay in drafts. While reading or watching TV, you need to monitor your posture, especially for older people.
To prevent the development of intercostal neuralgia, it is necessary to eat in a timely and balanced manner. The diet should contain foods rich in vitamin B (cereal, wholemeal bread, cereals, nuts). Do not abuse the monotonous and intense physical exertion.