Intercoastal Neuralgia Causes & Treatment Options

Category: Nerves | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: December 30, 2015

intercoastal neuralgia

Intercoastal Neuralgia is a rare condition that affects the nerves between a person’s rib cage. The intercoastal nerves lie between your ribs, and they can be damaged by compression in the thoracic or abdominal area of your body. Today, we explain exactly how this condition can set in, and how a spine surgeon can treat it.

Intercoastal Nerve Compression

Compression of the intercoastal nerves in your chest and back can be caused by a variety of issues. Some of the more common causes of intercoastal neurolgia include:

  • Ruptured abdominal tissue
  • Irregular curvature of the spinal vertebrae
  • Scar tissue around the nerve
  • Abdominal muscle overuse
  • Abdominal distention
  • Damage during surgery in the chest or spine
  • Disease/Infections
  • Pregnancy
  • Tumor development

Symptoms and Treatment Options

Symptoms of Intercoastal neuralgia are generally contained to your chest and back, but the condition can also cause whole-body symptoms. If you believe you may have intercoastal neuralgia, here’s what you should look for:

  • Sharp or spastic pain in the ribcage or back
  • Difficulty moving or breathing
  • Numbing or a tingling sensation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Pain in the arms and shoulders
  • Increase in pain with activity

If your doctor diagnoses you with intercoastal neuralgia, he or she will walk you through your non-invasive and surgical options. Treatment of intercoastal neuralgia has great outcomes. Unless symptoms are severe, your doctor will likely see how you respond to conservative treatment before progressing to operative options.

Non-Operative Treatments – Neuropathic pain medications can help prevent pain caused by nerve damage, but it won’t address the underlying issue. Other options include a TENS unit, which sends electrical stimuli to the affected area, nerve root injections, physical therapy and intercoastal nerve blocks. A person with intercoastal neuralgia can also benefit from lifestyle interventions, like wearing seatbelts and protective gear during sports, and getting vaccinated for the shingles virus.

Surgical Options – Surgical treatment for intercoastal neuralgia generally involves two processes: removing the scar tissue and decompressing the nerve. Surgery is only pursued if numerous conservative treatments fail, or if they condition is seriously jeopardizing the patient’s health.

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