Intercostal neuralgia causes, symptoms, treatmentIntercostal neuralgia – neuropathic pain syndrome characterized by irritation or compression of the intercostal nerves. The disease is not too dangerous, but only when the person timely seek medical attention – Vertebrologist.

It is characterized by pain, which, reminiscent of cardiovascular disease. It should be noted that the intercostal neuralgia – is quite complicated in terms of diagnosing the disease. It is based on degenerative changes in the spine, which are disguised as defeat any body that is placed in the chest or abdomen.


This disease develops when squeezed intercostal nerves. Generally, it is diagnosed in the elderly due to age-related changes. In addition, this pathology usually does not develop separately – it occurs on a background of other lesions, for example, at the accompanying osteochondrosis. It can also be diagnosed with displacement of the vertebrae or cancer diseases. Pain at the same time may have different localization and appear to the left of the sternum, simulating a heart attack that requires an ECG and other advanced methods.

Reasons intercostal neuralgia include:

  • Inflammatory processes;
  • Low temperature;
  • Spinal injury;
  • Diseases of the spine in which are compressed the nerve root (this is, for example, herniated discs and spondylopathy, ankylosing spondylitis);
  • Tumor of the spinal cord;
  • Shell damage of nerves – demyelination;
  • Insufficient number of B vitamins, observed in patients with lesions of the digestive system;
  • Endocrine disorders, diabetes;
  • Intercostal neuralgia is sometimes manifested in muscle tension of the back;Eeffects of stressful situations and constant fatigue;
  • Infectious disease and herpetic lesions;
  • Pleurisy;
  • Chest deformation;
  • Sometimes intercostal neuralgia is diagnosed during pregnancy. A characteristic feature of the disease in this period is a pain along the nerve trunks. As a rule, the reason in a reduced immunity  and hypertonus of back muscles.

Clinical signs of intercostal neuralgia

Intercostal neuralgia refers to acute states, so its symptoms are always intense and pronounced. The main feature of the disease – severe and acute pain that occurs in the damaged area and distributed to other organs, mainly the chest and spine.

Localization of pain and the nature of paincan be a varied. The intercostal neuralgia is characterized by stabbing or aching pain and numbness of hands and a small area of the chest.

Pain increases with sharp movements, deep breathing, turning, coughing, as well as under the influence of irritable factors: cold or heat. Intercostal neuralgia symptoms often resemble a heart attack, patients experience pain in the heart, which can radiate to the shoulder blade, arm, back or intestines. Painful condition at intercostal neuralgia can last for a few hours, and intensify at night and in all movements. In addition to severe pain in the chest, symptoms of disease include:

  • Increased sweating;
  • Pale skin;
  • Reducing muscle segments;
  • Pain on palpation or deep inspiration;
  • Numb the skin at area of affected nerve;
  • General malaise;
  • Sometimes in patients increases body temperature to 37.5 degrees, there is nausea, vomiting.


Due to the fact that the pain provoked by intercostal neuralgia, quite similar to the pain, typical for lung disease, or cardiovascular disease, for a correct diagnosis should seek the help of a cardiologist or pulmonologist. In this situation diagnostic measures include:

  • Chest X-ray;
  • MRI;
  • Computed tomography;
  • X-ray examination of soft tissue of the spinal cord (myelography);
  • Functional diagnosis of the heart (echocardiography, electrocardiography, etc.);
  • Diagnostic study of the digestive tract.

If during the diagnosis will not be identified pulmonary, digestive and cardiovascular pathologies, the patient is recommended to consult a neurologist who, if needed, recommend treatment.

Treatment of intercostal neuralgia

Intercostal neuralgia – a pathological condition requiring the pathogenetic and symptomatic treatment. Currently, the most effective methods include physiotherapy, acupuncture, moxibustion, spine traction, massage and pharmacopuncture. With adequate treatment, usually after 1-2 days the patient has a significant improvement.

As the drug therapy is recommended to use nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants (relieves muscle spasms). When severe pain is shown injecting drugs appears to be more rapid action.

Prevention intercostal neuralgia

In order to prevent the development of intercostal neuralgia should constantly monitor their posture, avoid drafts and hypothermia, try not to lift weights more than 10-20 kg and regularly improving gymnastics, rational and balanced nutrition, avoiding mono-diet and fasting to take vitamins, as far as possible to give up alcohol. It is also well-proven preventive massage using special warming ointments, improves blood circulation and lymph flow.