How and what to treat intercostal neuralgia?

Intercostal neuralgia is not an independent disease, but only syndrome characterized by pain along the intercostal nerves. Intercostal neuralgia can be called «the great imitator» — it masquerades as any disease of the chest and abdomen. But most often neuralgic pain mistaken for heart disease. What causes intercostal neuralgia how to distinguish it from cardiac pain, and what are the ways of treating it — the answers to these questions will help prevent and, in extreme cases, to get rid of neuralgic pains in the chest.

Causes of intercostal neuralgia

Neuralgic pain may result from irritation or malnutrition intercostal nerves. Do not think that unyav neuralgic pain, you can get rid of the disease. The result of treatment depends on eliminating the real causes of the disease, which are many. This:

  • pathology of the spine — prolapsed disc, progressive scoliosis, ankylosing spondylitis, spinal cancer, osteoarthritis, spondylitis;
  • the toxic effects of alcohol, heavy metal poisoning, infectious intoxication (TB, shingles), side effects of certain medications;
  • endocrine disorders — menopausal women, diabetic condition, rarely thyroid disease, a long course of hormone therapy;
  • insufficiency of b vitamins — often it can be triggered by gastrointestinal diseases (hepatitis, ulcers, gastritis, colitis);
  • mechanical nerve injury, spinal injury, nerve compression by a tumor or cicatrical formations;
  • oxygen starvation of the nervous tissue — hypertension, anemia, rheumatism, diseases of the heart.

However, the presence of one of these diseases is sometimes not enough for pain between the ribs. Intercostal neuralgia trigger factors that play a role «a trigger»:

  • stress and chronic fatigue;
  • physical exercise leading to muscle strain;
  • hypothermia and cold — influenza, acute respiratory infections;
  • immunodeficiency and pleurisy;
  • old age — in children intercostal pain syndrome (thoracalgia) is very rare.
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Before curing intercostal neuralgia, it is necessary to find out the cause of the pain. So, for the thoracalgia characterized by:

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  • Pain spreading over intercostal space with possible radiating to the lower back, hand and shoulder blade. The pain is constant for several hours or days, increases with movement and deep breathing.
  • Painful palpation of the intercostal spaces along the spine, on the edge of the sternum.
  • Out of breath, the inability of normal inhale/exhale due to the sharp pain.
  • Involuntary twitching of certain muscles of the chest and back.
  • External signs of redness or paleness of the skin over the painful lesion, burning or decreased sensation until the complete numbness of a particular area.

Как и чем лечить межреберную невралгию?
Although the symptoms of intercostal neuralgia is bright enough to identify the neuralgic character of the pain is sometimes very difficult. Unlike a heart attack from intercostal neuralgia:

  • When heart hurts, changes of pulse and pressure, which is not in the neuralgic attacks.
  • Heart pain is not amplified from minimal movements (rotation of the body, etc.). It is observed only in neuralgia.
  • To relieve the pain of neuralgic character cannot Nitroglycerin, which effectively helps during a heart attack.

But that’s not all. Such symptoms occur as in intercostal neuralgia, and heart attack. The main criterion that causes neuralgic nature of the pain, is the effectiveness of sedative drugs (Valokordin, Validol) neuralgia and its absolute futility in evolving myocardial necrosis. Also, when the infarct is often sharply reduced the pressure, nausea and vomiting.

How dangerous is intercostal neuralgia?

The main danger of thoracalgia is the similarity of symptoms of many serious illnesses that require sometimes urgent specific help. In addition to heart attack and angina under the symptoms of intercostal neuralgia may disappear renal colic, pancreatitis, and lung cancer.

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Less life-threatening complication of neuralgic pain — a chronic pathological process, frequent relapses which takes the patient a lot of trouble and have a significant impact on the quality of life.


A huge number of causal diseases causing intercostal neuralgia, requiring full examination of the whole organism. The most informative studies for diagnosing neuralgia and to establish its cause of occurrence:

  • computed tomography;
  • MRI.

These diagnostic methods allow to identify malignant processes, inflammation of the spinal cord, spinal cord injury, vascular disorders and pathology of internal organs. Often only the appointment of CT replace multiple diagnostic procedures: ultrasound, x-ray, etc.

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No man, even having a medical degree will not be able to accurately diagnose and differentiate thoracalgia from other diseases without diagnostic studies. The first thing to do when the pain is in the chest:

  • To provide rest to the patient.
  • Как и чем лечить межреберную невралгию?

  • Than to be numb? — Soothing agents such as Valokordin, Corvalol (reduce painful sensations). When an unknown diagnosis is not recommended without a doctor’s prescription drugs NSAIDs — Diclofenac, Ibuprofen or Naproxen. These funds impairs nutrition of the myocardium and can cause extensive tissue damage in evolving heart attack.
  • To go to the doctor to determine the cause of the pain. Only a qualified technician knows how to treat intercostal neuralgia after confirmation of the diagnostic data.

Therapy of thoracalgia aimed at eliminating painful symptoms and treatment of causative diseases. The therapeutic complex with intercostal neuralgia:

  • Bed rest for 1 – 3 days. Bed have to be hard.
  • Pain relief drugs NSAIDs, providing pronounced anti-inflammatory effect. Ketoprofen is particularly effective in the form of ointments, capsules, rectal suppositories and injections. Use of muscle relaxants (Baclofen, Clonazepam) to relieve muscle spasm.
  • Local impact — mustard, pepper patch.
  • In the absence of effective and persistent pain — the blockade (Novocain and Prednisolone).
  • The restoration of the power of nervous tissue — vitamins B1, B6 and B12.
  • Repeated attacks effective drug Blokium B12, which includes Diclofenac, a corticosteroid hormone Betamethasone and vitamin B12.
  • Physiotherapy — dry heat, electrophoresis, effects of laser acupuncture, magnetic therapy.
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To cure intercostal neuralgia, drug therapy is supplemented by:

  • etiotropic treatment — removing the cause of disease, sometimes requiring surgical intervention (for example, in Oncology, intervertebral hernia);
  • correction lifestyle — with the exception of alcohol and heavy physical activity, parenting stress, increasing the body’s defenses.

To the question «How long treated for intercostal neuralgia?» any doctor will answer in the following manner: «the Pain disappear completely for a few days. However, the cause of the disease treat long enough to prevent damage to the structure of the nerves and re-neuralgic pains». Only exception to mechanical compression of the intercostal nerves, their nutrition and the enrichment of nervous tissue with oxygen will allow you to avoid severe symptoms.