What is thoracic spine syndrome?

Chest pain in the emergency room is a common disease in hospitals, and there is a lot of fear because people think about heart attacks. Inhale! It is not a heart attack but the T-spine syndrome! Pain in the thoracic spine is usually caused by wear disorders. Patients describe it as vague, oppressive, and often as stinging. As a rule, the muscles are hardened next to the spine. The thoracic spine is the section of the spine between the cervical and lumbar spine. It consists of 12 vertebrae. The vertebral bodies of the thoracic spine are connected to the ribs via small joints and together form the thorax.

Gratifying - thoracic spine pain is rare

The concern of many people before a herniated disc is - legitimately - great. All-clear for disc prolapse in the thoracic spine: Disc prolapses of the thoracic spine play only a very minimal role compared to those in the cervical and the lumbar spine. In numbers: Only 2 percent of all disc-related diseases affect the thoracic spine.

Heart and lungs can also trigger a T-spine syndrome

Looking for the causes you should basically start with yourself because actually there are some things you need to pay attention to: Do I have an unhealthy posture? Do I lift too heavy things and strain my thoracic spine too much? Are my back muscles weak because I am not moving enough? Many have to answer these questions with a YES. And a YES, in this case, means nothing good. But of course there are other causes such as: osteoarthritis of the vertebral joints, osteoporosis possibly with vertebral fractures, injuries, narrowing of the spinal canal and/or the neural foramen (neural foramen stenosis), disc degeneration, rarely tumors (meningiomas, neurinomas, hemangiomas). In addition, sometimes adjacent organs like the heart or lungs may trigger pain in the area of ​​the thoracic spine.

The characteristic symptom of the T-spine syndrome is back pain

If you move, turn or touch the pain point, it increases. It is not uncommon for T-Spine Syndrome symptoms to radiate into the ribs as well. This is because the thoracic vertebrae and ribs are connected by joints. The pain then feels belt-shaped.

Severe nerve compression can occur, resulting in neurological deficits such as decreased strength or deafness. Deep breathing - especially after a long break, for example at night - can cause severe pain under the ribs.

Diagnosis thoracic spine pain

The diagnosis always begins with a personal conversation between the patient and the doctor. In this so-called anamnesis interview in which the patient describes his medical history to the doctor, his/her life circumstances and gives references on the way and localization of pain.
 
In the second step, the doctor scans the spine, looks for a possible obliquity, pays attention to the symmetry of the upper body and looks for changes or injuries. Are there inflammatory processes? These questions usually answer a blood count. If the doctor behind the symptoms of a T-spine syndrome suspects a possibly hidden heart attack - he/she assigns a precautionary electrocardiogram (ECG). Last but not least, imaging procedures, such as X-rays, MRI scans of the thoracic spine, CT scans or scintigraphy will be needed.

This is how a T-spine syndrome is treated successfully

Therapy depends on the diagnosis, in fact there are several therapy options. Normally, discomfort in the thoracic spine is treated conservatively, that is to say that patients should be relieved of his pain by medication. Medication can be taken as intravenous therapy or as direct injection (facet infiltration or PRT).
 
Physiotherapy itself, also accompanied by warmth, cold and massages could relax the muscles and relieve the intervertebral discs.
 
A combination of physiotherapy and the use of painkillers has proved to be very successful. Minimally invasive thermo-denervation (with which the irritated nerves are deactivated by heat) can help against the pain of the thoracic spine.
 
For tumors of the thoracic spine, vertebral body infections, osteoporotic fractures, disc herniation, cysts or pronounced scoliosis, other procedures (therapies) can be used.

Prognosis - there is only a magic word: Movement!

There is one person who can treat you well and make a positive prognosis: that's YOU! The magic word is movement - walking, swimming and cycling. Since T-Spine syndrome is often caused by lack of exercise, weak back muscles, and posture problems, you should now do everything you can to avoid repeating these mistakes. Back training can also be effective.

Dr. med. Munther Sabarini

Author
Dr. med. Munther Sabarini
Specialist in Neurosurgery

Hans-Heinrich Reichelt

Co-author
Hans-Heinrich Reichelt
Chief Editor of Medizin für Menschen

The Avicenna Clinic in Berlin is always willing to help you

Since the year 2001, the Avicenna Clinic is based in Berlin. Our doctors have at least 25 years of international experience in their respective fields (neurosurgery, spinal surgery, anesthesia, and orthopedics).

If you have severe back pain, a herniated disc or a suspected herniation, please contact us using the following information:

Avicenna Clinic
Paulsborner Str. 2
10709 Berlin

Telephone: +49 30 236 08 30
Fax: +49 30 236 08 33 11
E-Mail: info@avicenna-klinik.de

You can call anytime, write an e-mail or fill out a callback form. Each patient then gets an appointment with a doctor of our clinic, who is a spine specialist (neurosurgeon). Based on MRI images (brought or made in our clinic) and on an in-depth examination, the doctor will discuss with you all the different therapy options or possibly surgery. You can also use our specialists only to obtain a (second) opinion.

If you decide to undertake your therapy and/or surgery in Berlin, we would want to make your stay as pleasant as possible. In our clinic, you are at the center of our attention! You can expect state-of-the-art equipment in all areas - from the operating room to the patient bedroom.

The latest, gentle, minimally invasive treatment procedures are the focus of our clinic. Together we try to find a suitable treatment for your complaints. The actual therapy takes place only after a detailed discussion with the patient, examinations and the diagnostics.

For us, as important as medical care, it is the commitment we take to guarantee our patients a high level of personal care that can, in turn, ensure them a comfortable stay.

During the period of inpatient stay our team of nurses will take care of you 24 hours a day. They also offer services in several foreign languages, including English, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, Bulgarian and French. We care not only about your safety but also your needs, respecting traditions and religions.

Our team is made up of a group of highly qualified specialists who work together to guarantee you a quick recovery.