How to treat intercostal neuralgia at home?

Author Ольга Кияница


Relatively rare is a disease such as intercostal neuralgia. If, however, it has arisen, you need to think about the proper treatment that will help improve the condition and, first of all, eliminate the painful sensations. Otherwise, the patient significantly deteriorates the quality of life and possibly the development of other complications, including arrhythmias.

Neuralgia (resembling other Greek, νεῦρον - "vein, nerve" + ἄλγος - "pain") is still known as thoracalgia - occurs when peripheral nerves are affected, while structural disorders, as happens with neuritis, are absent. The patient is mainly concerned with the severe pain, which often spreads along the course of the affected nerve.

The most common intercostal neuralgia, which develops as a result of compression or irritation of nerves passing along the lower edge of the ribs.

Diagnosis of intercostal neuralgia is not particularly difficult, because it is characterized by certain clinical signs.Nevertheless, since the disease is more common in the elderly and middle-aged people, it is necessary to carry out a differential diagnosis with myocardial infarction and other cardiovascular diseases.

Video: Symptoms and treatment of intercostal neuralgia

Description and symptoms

Intercostal neuralgia, as the name suggests, is a neuralgia or pain that occurs in the intercostal nerves. These nerves are located between the ribs in the chest. Any damage or dysfunction of these nerves leads to intercostal neuralgia. This is a fairly rare disease.

Intercostal neuralgia tends to cause thoracic pain, which can spread to various areas of the chest and even occupy the upper back.

The main symptom of intercostal neuralgia is burning, sharp or shooting pain . This pain can be felt:

  • around the ribs;
  • in the upper part of the thorax;
  • in the upper part of the back.

Additional symptoms in these areas include:

  • A compressive sensation that, as it were, grabs the whole thorax from front to back;
  • tingling;
  • numbness.

Pain can deteriorate even when performing minor physical exercises, such as deep breathing or stretching. The condition can worsen when the patient laughs, coughs or sneezes. Some people also note pain in the scapula or in the lower abdomen.


Intercostal neuralgia caused by the herpes virus (postherpetic neuralgia), can also be manifested by the itching of the skin, which makes it extremely sensitive, even when wearing clothing.

Symptoms in more severe cases of intercostal neuralgia include:

  • involuntary jerking of muscles;
  • loss of appetite;
  • paralysis;
  • muscular atrophy;
  • pain that permeates the whole body.


Intercostal neuralgia is caused by irritation, inflammation or contraction of the intercostal nerves that pass along the lower edge of the ribs.

The disease can cause several causes, including:

  • trauma of the chest;
  • viral infections such as herpes;
  • infringement of a nerve or pressure;
  • trauma as a result of surgical treatment, represented by an open operation on the chest to gain access to the throat, lung, heart or diaphragm (thoracotomy).

Sometimes intercostal neuralgia develops without a pronounced cause. In this case, this disease is called idiopathic intercostal neuralgia.


Before diagnosis of intercostal neuralgia the doctor usually excludes any other causes of painful sensations. During physical examination, usually press on the area between the ribs or ask the patient to take a deep breath. If in each of these cases there is pain, then most likely there is an intercostal neuralgia.

Depending on the clinical manifestations, a neurological examination may be required that allows you to check the functionality of the nervous system. The physician may also use an X-ray, ultrasound, computerized tomography or MRI scan to search for any signs of trauma.

Traditional treatment

Some medication procedures can provide temporary relief for neuralgic pain. These include:

  • Ointments with capsaicin
  • Lidocaine Gels


Antidepressants are sometimes used to treat nervous pain. These drugs include:

  • amitriptyline
  • desipramine (Norpramin)
  • duloxetine (Cymbalta)
  • imipramine (Tofranil)
  • nortriptyline (Aventil, Pamlor)
  • venlafaxine

A doctor may also attribute an anticonvulsant medicine, for example:

  • Carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Epitol, Equitro, Tegretol)
  • gabapentin (Gralise, Neurontin, Horizant)
  • oxcarbazepine (Oxtellar, Trileptal)
  • pregabalin (Lyrics)

In severe cases, the doctor prescribes opioid-aspirin or opioid-acetaminophen to treat pain. These are all powerful medicines with many side effects, so they are usually the last option for conservative treatment.

Video: Intercostal neuralgia treatment at home

Natural home remedies for neuralgia

  1. Hot water . A shower with hot water or a bath is an effective and natural way of treating neuralgia, as it helps improve blood circulation in the body.
  2. Camomile . Effective means for relieving pain in neuralgia. Chamomile can be used in many ways, for example, in tea, as a lotion or compresses for application at the site of the lesion. Chamomile promotes relaxation, elimination of spasms and anesthesia, which is just necessary in the treatment of nerve pain.
  3. Horseradish . Also known as the amorality of Rusticana, the Rusticana frame, the cochlear bronze, the Cranson, the cranes de Bretagne, the great rafot, the meerrettich, the bronze lepatifolia, the murtard del almend, the mountain radish, the great raifart, the murtard de capuchin, the mutardelle, the pepperrot, the rabbi-picante, rábano rústico, nasturtium armoracia, red cole, radis de cheval, raifort, rorippa armoracia, raifort sauvage. Horseradish contains magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and potassium. Roots of horseradish in a fresh shabby form are rich in vitamins A and C, have a low content of calories and fat. The use of fresh shredded horseradish, applied for an hour to the affected area, also helps to reduce inflammation, soothes the nerve endings and provides great relief from nervous pain. However, the use of horseradish in pregnant or lactating women and children under the age of four should be avoided, since this remedy can cause problems such as diarrhea, indigestion and increased vomiting due to the presence of mustard oil in it. Such a substance, as a rule, causes irritation of the mucosa of the oral cavity and the gastrointestinal tract.
  4. Garlic milk . Effective when relieving pain in neuralgia. Garlic milk contains anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic substances. It can be prepared by boiling two crushed garlic cloves in half a glass of milk. The consumption of this drug helps in reducing pain in neuralgia for some time. Shredded garlic, mixed with warm mustard oil, can be of great help in relieving pain, if it is massaged with this remedy in a painful area.
  5. Celery . This plant is also very useful in the treatment of nerve pain. Celery supports the nervous system, relieves neurosis, helps bring the general condition back to normal. Consumption of half a cup of celery juice in combination with carrot juice is very effective in neuralgia. Consumption of celery juice in combination with potato juice on a regular basis also helps in reducing pain with sciatica neuralgia. Celery in this case works as a first aid for pain due to nerve damage.
  6. Black elderberry . A natural remedy for relieving pain in intercostal neuralgia: This plant is also known as Elderberry, Bacca, Arbre Judah, Black Elder, Black Shepherd, Baiss de Bureau, Black Elderberry, Batty, Elder, Elder Berry, Ellanwood, Ellhorn, European alder, European black elberry, European old woman, European elder, European black elder and bar tree. Regular consumption of tea made from elderberry, helps in alleviating pain with neuralgia, promotes muscle relaxation.
  7. Vitamin B. Helps relieve pain in the nerves, supplementation of vitamin B also helps to repair damaged nerves. Beans, lean meats, nuts, vegetables, fruits and whole grains contain a sufficient amount of vitamin B, and therefore adding them to the diet is very useful for pain in the nerves.
  8. Milk in the treatment of pain in neuralgia . Consumption of one cup of soy milk mixed with honey on a permanent basis is also useful for patients suffering from nervous pain due to a lack of nutrition in the body.
  9. Honey and cinnamon help to treat neuralgia without leaving home. This combination can be used by applying the agent to the affected area, after which it is washed off after a while. The procedure is very useful for patients suffering from pain on the background of infringement of nerves.
  10. Massage with aloe vera gel to relieve pain along the course of the affected nerves. Aloe vera is a plant and is famous for its anti-inflammatory properties. Massaging the painful area with aloe vera gel removes unpleasant sensations. Other herbal oils such as cloves, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, winter green and eucalyptus also help in the reduction of neuralgia.

If necessary, it is possible to supplement the home treatment of intercostal neuralgia with suitable physical exercises.Cognitive or relaxation therapy may also be used.


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