WHAT IS INTERCOSTAL NEURALGIA?
Intercostal neuralgia is a painful condition caused by irritation or inflammation of the intercostal nerves. The intercostal nerves arise from the thoracic spinal nerves and run directly below the ribs. These nerves contain motor and sensory components for structures of the thoracic and abdominal wall. Although this condition predominately affects the elderly, individuals of any age group can be affected by inciting injuries to the intercostal nerves.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF INTERCOSTAL NEURALGIA?
Pain in the mid-back, chest, or abdomen that may be associated with:
- Pain that worsens with breathing, coughing, sneezing, jumping, or lateral bending
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Sensitivity to light touch
- Skin discoloration
WHAT CAUSES INTERCOSTAL NEURALGIA?
- Post-thoracotomy pain syndrome: pain that persists following a surgical incision made between the ribs
- Postherpetic neuralgia: a complication of shingles
- Abnormal growths: may compress the intercostal nerves
- Chest tube placement
- Breast surgery
HOW IS INTERCOSTAL NEURALGIA DIAGNOSED?
- Review of medical history and physical examination
- Imaging modalities
- Diagnostic injections: intercostal nerve block
HOW IS INTERCOSTAL NEURALGIA TREATED?
- Oral or topical medications
- TENS unit
- Physical therapy
- Therapeutic injections: intercostal nerve block