Intercostal neuralgia - symptoms, causes and treatment

Intercostal neuralgia Intercostal neuralgia is a reflex pain syndrome that occurs when the intercostal nerves are squeezed, irritated or inflamed. Otherwise it is called thoracalgia. The phenomenon is unpleasant, as it is accompanied by intense pain.

Clinical symptoms of intercostal neuralgia are very similar to the symptoms of a number of diseases of internal organs, in particular, the heart. That is why many patients, frightened by an attack of intercostal neuralgia, turn to the cardiologist or begin to engage in self-medication at home, taking heart drugs.

In this regard, along with the lack of proper diagnosis and adequate treatment of neuralgia, aggravates the patient's condition. And the loss of time can lead to quite serious complications.

Reasons for

Why does intercostal neuralgia occur, and what is it? The main cause of neuralgia is the compression and irritation of the intercostal nerves due to inflammatory-degenerative changes in the spine. Most often, the pathology does not arise independently, but de

velops against the background of another disease.

In this regard, identify certain causes, leading to the appearance of intercostal neuralgia :

  • injury of the back and chest;
  • supercooling;
  • pathology of the spine - scoliosis, deforming spondylosis, osteochondrosis, herniated intervertebral discs;
  • internal( diseases of internal organs) and external( taking medications, influence of heavy metals) intoxication;
  • transferred infectious diseases( tuberculosis, shingles, brucellosis);
  • malignant lung tumors and pleura;
  • diseases of the nervous system( multiple sclerosis, polyradiculoneuritis);
  • reduced immunity;
  • is an allergy.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, the "culprit" is osteochondrosis, which leads to the destruction of cartilaginous tissue, as a result of which the roots of the nerves are squeezed and sharp pain arises. Pathological changes in the spinal column cause a muscle-tonic syndrome( a violation of muscle tone), which significantly complicates the situation.

Intercostal neuralgia of the cause

Symptoms of intercostal neuralgia

In general, intercostal neuralgia can make itself felt by a number of specific symptoms that can be observed as a complex or selectively. Everything depends on the individual characteristics of the organism of each individual person. And it depends on the same, how brightly these signs will be expressed, and also from which side - on the left or on the right.

The main symptom of this disease is pain along the intercostal space on the right or left. The intensity of pain can be different: from sharp, sharp, pronounced, shooting( more often) to a constant, medium intensity. Pain is worse when the patient moves, when coughing and sneezing, and even with breathing. Often a person takes a forced position: leans into the affected side to minimize the amount of movement in it. Some patients with coughing, laughing or sneezing firmly press the palm to the affected intercostal space with the same goal: to reduce the amount of movement in this area, so that it hurts less.

In addition, the disease is accompanied by: numbness of affected areas, muscle tension, cramps, increased sweating, a feeling of "crawling" in the skin, a violation of sleep, tearfulness. Increases intercostal neuralgia after exercise or exercise.

Difference in symptoms of neuralgia from heart disease

This disease often mimics the defeat of the heart. For correct diagnosis, it is important to remember that in pathologies of the cardiovascular system, there are accompanying changes in the pulse and BP.When the intercostal nerves are affected this pattern is absent.

In addition, with a pain syndrome, which is associated with cardiac dysfunction, a change in the position of the body does not in any way affect the intensity of unpleasant sensations. When the attack of intercostal neuralgia develops, any movement, as well as deep breathing provokes an increase in pain. The diagnostic criterion is also the fact that nitroglycerin or similar drugs do not give a positive effect.

If you doubt or suspect that paroxysmal pain associated with other diseases, you need to seek help from a doctor as soon as possible and not delay with treatment. The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the easier it will be to recover.

List of diseases with similar symptoms :

  • angina;
  • herpes zoster;
  • myocardial infarction;
  • Bechterew's disease;
  • lung diseases;
  • is a tumor disease.

It is very important to distinguish between intercostal neuralgia in time from other diseases that can even lead to death.

Intercostal neuralgia symptoms


To understand how to treat intercostal neuralgia, it is necessary not only to diagnose the symptom, but also to determine the cause of its development.

Differential diagnosis for clinical manifestations is an important stage in the treatment of patients. First of all, it is necessary to exclude the pathology of the heart, since the treatment of intercostal neuralgia and heart diseases require different therapies, and incorrect diagnosis and missed time in cardiac pathology can be crucial for the patient's condition.

To exclude other diseases, the doctor can prescribe ECG, lung radiography, ultrasound examination of the abdominal organs and other necessary studies. After the final verification of the diagnosis, one can start treating intercostal neuralgia.

Treatment of intercostal neuralgia

Symptoms of intercostal neuralgia can not be ignored. And intense pain sensations are unlikely to allow this. The essence of neuralgia treatment is as follows:

  1. Removal of pain and other manifestations of intercostal neuralgia with the help of tablets.
  2. Elimination of pinching and / or inflammation of the affected nerve.
  3. Elimination of the root cause of the disease, which, in fact, leads to the development of intercostal neuralgia.

The treatment regimen includes the use of the following methods:

  1. Drug therapy( analgesics and blockades, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, vitamins);
  2. Gentle mode and restriction of mobility of the spine( thorax) at the level of damage, wearing a corset;
  3. Physiotherapy treatment;
  4. Manual and reflex therapy;
  5. Massage and physiotherapy.

If the cause of the disease was the infringement of the roots of the spinal nerves, then treatment of the neuralgia can only be treated by the pathology that led to the infringement - osteochondrosis, herniated formation of the intervertebral disc, etc.

At home, local therapies use ointments that have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. Due to the effects of their components, blood circulation in the affected area improves?and also there is a relaxation of muscles.

Intercostal neuralgia treatment

Physiotherapy and exercise therapy

Combating intercostal neuralgia is perfectly helped by exposure to electromagnetic and magnetic fields, ultrasound, infrared and ultraviolet radiation, electrophoresis and other physiotherapy methods.


Improves metabolic processes and blood flow, relaxes muscles, normalizes the conduction of nerve impulses, has a slight analgesic effect. Duration of treatment - 10 sessions.

Manual therapy

The effect of massage is fixed by manual therapy. When it is performed, the physician-manual therapist works directly on the displaced vertebrae. During this action, the vertebrae return to their original position, the gaps between the vertebrae widen, and the strangulated nerves are released. The method is effective, but if the technique is violated, serious complications are possible.

How to treat intercostal neuralgia at home

If for any reason it is not possible to seek medical help from a doctor, you can resort to folk methods. Folk medicine also has many proven self-help recipes to alleviate the symptoms of intercostal neuralgia.

So, the most effective folk remedies for the treatment of intercostal neuralgia at home can be considered the following:

  1. A good effect is rubbing the affected area with alcohol infusion of birch buds or tincture of valerian .The substances that make up these tinctures act similarly to the components of the ointments of industrial production. But applying compresses with alcohol substances at night does not follow, because alcohol can cause a burn of the skin.
  2. Warming also helps, but the thermal effect with intercostal neuralgia should not be direct, that is, do not apply a heating pad, a hot potato or egg, and wrap yourself up with a downy shawl knitted with a woolen thing. If you strongly heat a painful place, the pain will go away for a short time and then such an effect will only increase the swelling of the soft tissues and will bring even greater painful sensations.
  3. Inside it is good to take broth peppermint : 200 ml.water boil, add to boiling water 1 tablespoon of dry leaves peppermint, insist. Take 100 the morning and in the evening. In the broth, you can add 2 teaspoons of honey.
  4. Pain along the nerves helps to reduce horseradish juice or black radish , which must be rubbed into the affected areas, as well as compresses with steamed flax seeds.
  5. It should take 4 tbsp.spoons dry sage and pour them with one glass of hot water. Give this broth to infuse for 60 minutes, then strain. The resulting tincture should be poured into a bath( not above 37 degrees), pour sea salt there( 4 tablespoons) and take a bath before going to bed no longer than 10 minutes, for 10 days.

But do not forget that all home remedies only relieve pain for a while, but do not eliminate its main cause. Therefore, your main task - as soon as possible( in order to avoid possible complications) to undergo a complete examination and, if necessary, a course of treatment.


The essence of prevention of intercostal neuralgia is the observance of elementary rules, such as:

  1. Monitor your diet and lifestyle.
  2. Avoid overcooling.
  3. Avoid injury to the spine.
  4. Timely treatment of internal diseases of the musculoskeletal system.
  5. Daily exercise, especially when your work is connected with sedentary work. Follow the correct posture.
  6. If you have any internal disease of infectious or non-infectious origin, seek help from doctors, conduct a full course of treatment, this will help to avoid possible complications.

Also prophylactic massage with the use of special warming ointments, improving blood circulation and lymphatic drain, also proved to be very good.

To which doctor to contact

If acute pain in the chest occurs, you can consult a therapist who will necessarily send the patient to an electrocardiogram and chest X-ray. After excluding heart and lung diseases, the patient will be treated by a neurologist. In the therapy of the disease involved physician-physiotherapist, specialist in therapeutic physical training and massage, reflexotherapist, manual therapist.

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