Intercostal neuralgia – how to relieve pain?

Author Ольга Кияница


With intercostal neuralgia the patient is most concerned with pain, which can be sharp, shooting, sharp, sufficiently pronounced and often troubling. As a rule, the definition of this sign lies at the basis of diagnosis of intercostal neuralgia. The strategy of treatment is mainly aimed at eliminating pain, which allows you to quickly improve the patient's condition.

Neuralgia is a condition in which severe pain arises by the type of electric shock, most often localized with intercostal neuralgia (MN) in the side, sometimes gives in the back. Pain is aggravated by movement. The muscles in the affected part of the body become weak and paralyzed. This is due to the violation of the transmission of the electric pulse through the fibers of the nervous system.

Neuralgia can be caused by chemical irritation, diabetes, porphyria, trauma, surgical interventions, infectious processes, or the misuse of certain medications.

If there is pressure on the nerves due to tumor development, trauma to bones and ligaments, this can lead to neuralgia.If there is severe pain in neuralgia, you need to adhere to dietary nutrition. It is important to take foods containing magnesium, vitamin B and minerals. When the weather is cold, you can not go out. If possible, home remedies for neuralgia can be used.

Video: How to quickly remove pain with intercostal neuralgia or rheumatism

Description of intercostal neuralgia

Intercostal neuralgia is caused by inflammation, damage or compression of the intercostal nerves, which are located between each of the twelve ribs. Posttorathotomy pain with neuralgia is felt in the back and chest area after surgery on the chest.

Up to 50% of patients may experience constant pain after thoracotomy, and up to 30% of patients continue to experience pain within four to five years after surgery or even until the end of life.

Post-thoracotomy pain syndrome (PTB), most likely, is considered a combination of intercostal nerve injuries, which, unfortunately, can not be completely restored. It is also often noted muscle damage between the ribs.


Intercostal neuralgia is most often manifested by severe pain that spreads around the chest (girdling pain). Sometimes the pain is described, that is, spread from the back of the body to the front of the chest or upper abdomen.

The pain can be burning, spasmodic, cutting or stitching. Pain often becomes stronger with sudden movements of the torso. Especially brightly manifested with laughter, coughing or deep inspiration, made with effort.


Patients undergoing thoracotomy surgery may experience pain that runs along the chest or simply feel constant pain along the length of the incision site. In this case, the description of pain is similar to the above characteristic, and this can lead to a severe and debilitating condition.


The cause of intercostal neuralgia is often associated with irritation of the intercostal nerves. This may be due to their compression, traumatizing muscles and ligaments, the formation of scar tissue or direct damage to the nerves during surgery.

Other causes include inflammation of the intercostal nerves associated with herpes zoster, tumor or radioactive radiation used to treat certain cancers.

Today, studies are under way to study various surgical approaches and treatment plans for pain before, during and after thoracotomy, which will help determine whether this will help reduce the incidence of PTB.

Traditional treatment

Sometimes pain associated with intercostal neuralgia or pain syndrome after thoracotomy prompts the doctor to refer the patient to the appropriate specialist. At the first visit, the doctor carefully develops a treatment plan, which basically depends on the patient's specific symptoms and his complete examination.

At the initial examination, the medical history is carefully collected, physical examination is carried out, which allows you to adapt the treatment plan to the needs of a particular person. It can combine tablet preparations and injection therapy.

Depending on the indications, a combination of medicines may be prescribed:

  • anticonvulsants, stabilizing nerves;
  • antidepressants, which also work to stabilize nerve fibers;
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and preparations for topical use in the form of lotions and creams.

The doctor can also suggest carrying out a neuromuscular blockade, which allows for a time to eliminate the extremely pronounced painful sensations.

Organization of lifestyle and nutrition

Much attention should be given to the diet, and in particular to the vitamins of group B, which can help relieve neuralgia, increasing the body's ability to resist the disease. Vitamin B12 helps to normalize the functioning of the nervous system and the regeneration of nerves, so some patients take supplement B12. The presence of a large number of fatty acids, such as fish oil or oil from flax seeds, helps reduce inflammation around the nerves.

Other general recommendations for the organization of an analgesic diet include:

  • Compliance with the drinking regime
  • The use of fresh and unprocessed foods as much as possible and the amount
  • Reducing the consumption of sugar and foods with its excessive content
  • Inclusion of more products containing magnesium in your diet or taking drugs to replenish this trace element.

Non-traditional treatment


  • Barley
  • St. John's Wort
  • Lemon balm
  • Chamomile
  • Molasses

Homeopathic treatment:

  • Aconitine - from three to six peas
  • Colocynth - from one to six with convulsive pain along the nerve pathways - they are often found on the left side
  • Hypericum - with sharp pains, as if from electricity
  • Staphysagria - with sharp, shooting pains
  • Arsenicum album - twelve peas with burning pains, which become more pronounced after midnight
  • Kalium iodatum - six peas with pains markedly expressed in the evening and at night
  • Byrony - six peas with pains that worsen with movement and during the cold
  • Allium
  • Cinchona
  • Dulcamara
  • Thuja
  • Urtica Urens


The osteopathic manipulative treatment technique by many is considered extremely useful for solving a wide range of problems: from headaches to hyperactivity in children, disturbed sleep and asthma cycles.

Osteopathy works by providing very gentle pressure produced by the hands at the site of injury. The goal of therapy is to release restrictions in the movements of bones and muscles, which will allow the subtle natural rhythms of the central nervous system to manifest itself in a balanced manner. The only question is to find a competent doctor who practices properly.


External Procedures

The use of lotions with essential oils and warm compresses can alleviate pain and spasms. Also, gentle massage on the nerve pathways and painful areas with the use of a few drops of essential oils and the use of circular movements also helps. In addition, the use of ointments or creams with cayenne pepper (paprika) in the lesions can ease the pain.Cayenne pepper drains reserves in sensitive nerve endings; after which the nerves stop sending pain signals to the brain.

It is important to remember that the use of essential oils and homeopathy together can lead to a decrease in the effect of homeopathic remedies.

If both types of treatment are used, you need to do this at different times - at least, with a difference of one hour.


  • Bay (laurel)
  • Wintergreen (wintergreen)
  • Peppermint (mint)

There is a method of treating neuralgia, which combines various herbs to relieve pain. It is not recommended to use this combination independently, because the exact proportion of funds must be maintained. Nevertheless, one can get acquainted with a list of these herbs and supplements that can be taken or prepared, and their further use should be agreed with the appropriate specialist.

  • Beriller mirobalan (birhitaki)
  • Large cardamom
  • Bamboo
  • Costus Root
  • Elecampane
  • Cinnamon
  • Englewood
  • White Sandalwood
  • Ginger root
  • Long pepper
  • Black cumin
  • The Chebul world balance
  • Cardamom
  • Carnation
  • Saffron
  • Liquorice
  • Cassia
  • White wood
  • Nutmeg
  • Red Sandalwood

It is worth knowing that you can not start any new treatment or stop the current therapy without the direct advice of the treating doctor.

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Home remedies for pain in intercostal neuralgia

Hot and cold

You can use hot compresses to relax the muscles. It is known that this method provides relief in neuralgia. The use of external heat is known as thermotherapy and helps in the expansion of blood vessels, which increases blood circulation and alleviates the painful conditions caused by neuralgia. Also it is possible to apply ice packs in the places of destruction. The ice pack gives immediate relief from the symptoms of neuralgia, but it lasts for no more than 5 minutes.If necessary, you can alternate hot compresses with ice. This will help to soothe the soreness of the muscles.

Despite the fact that it is possible to locally use ice packs, it is highly undesirable to undergo general overcooling or stay in a draft. This will only aggravate the course of the disease and worsen the general condition of the patient

Essential oils

Essential oils help in the treatment of pain and spasms caused by neuralgia. It is necessary to massage the painful parts of the body with essential oils. Apply oil to the affected area. Massage should be done gently, in a circular motion. Some of the remedies that can be used to treat neuralgia are eucalyptus, chamomile and peppermint oils. You can also use primrose and lavender oils.

Taking a bath

Bathing with flowers or lavender oil, spruce or pine needles with intercostal neuralgia promotes blood circulation and has an antispasmodic effect. It is necessary to pour up to 100 grams of plants with a liter of water, then boil and strain, and then add to water while taking a bath. Take an aqueous procedure should not more than 15-20 minutes.

Healing Teas

If there is neuralgia, you can drink medicinal teas:

  • Tea from valerian helps well. You can make this tea by soaking the dry root of valerian in cold water for 24 hours. To drink this tea you need 2 cups a day.
  • You can drink tea. John's Wort. It is made from dry leaves of St. John's wort, which is thrown into boiling water and boiled for 15 minutes. It is recommended to drink 3-6 cups of this tea daily.

These drinks can be combined with liquorice, so that the drug has an anti-inflammatory effect and has an improved sweetness taste.

Rosemary in neuralgia

Rosemary oil has analgesic properties. Application in the area of injury will help reduce neuropathic pain caused by neuralgia of the intercostal nerves.

If desired, you can brew tea with rosemary and drink it three times a day. The antioxidant properties of the plant help to improve the functioning of the immune system, it is better to resist pain. The drug has a calming effect on the nerves, which positively affect the general condition of the patient.


Cayenne pepper

Cayenne pepper is one of the best home remedies for pain relief in neuralgia, but it is not suitable for those who are prone to bleeding. Such people should avoid this remedy.

In other cases, you can mix cayenne pepper with olive oil and apply to the affected area. The moisturizing properties of olive oil help cayenne pepper to reach the nerve endings better through the skin. Pepper has anti-inflammatory properties and if necessary is used to relieve pain in arthritis.

Carrot juice

It is necessary to drink one glass of carrot juice daily. Carrots are rich in vitamins A, C, B2, B5 and folic acid. These biologically active substances effectively nourish the nerves and reduce pain in intercostal neuralgia.


Ginger has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. You can drink ginger tea 2-3 times a day. For its preparation, it is necessary to clean and cut about 2-3 cm of ginger, then grind it into pieces or grate, after which it should be cooked in a glass of water for about 5 minutes. Tea filter and drink in small sips.


Curcumin, determined in turmeric, has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. You can use turmeric during cooking as a spice. With the use of turmeric, the inflammatory process of all kinds, including pain and inflammation caused by neuralgia, decreases.

Celery juice

The juice is extracted from 2-3 stalks of celery. If you like the sweet taste, then you can add carrots while squeezing the celery juice. Every day you can take such a drink for half a cup. Drink it only fresh and avoid storing it in the refrigerator.The reason for this is that enzymes that help relieve pain in intercostal neuralgia are quickly destroyed after the juice is squeezed out.


Epsom salt

Epson salts (English salt, magnesium sulfate) help in the treatment of muscle tension and pain caused by neuralgia.Promote the proper functioning of the nerves and muscles, which is very important for the treatment of intercostal neuralgia. You can dilute Epsom salt in hot water and lie down in this bath. Another way to use Epsom salt is to wet the towel in a saline solution prepared by mixing the salt with hot water. The towel is twisted to remove excess water, then placed on the base of the neck in the area of the trigeminal nerves. Keep the towel on for some time so that the Epsom salt affects the affected area. Buy Epsom salt can be in the pharmacy, for the price it is quite affordable.

Application of pressure

You can relieve pain with neuralgia by pressing on the painful area. This method allows you to eliminate muscle tension caused by neuralgia. Also, blood pressure increases and the damaged nerves are restored. Press on the affected area with the help of the palms. Sometimes pressing the affected area on the pillow helps. The use of pressure thus prevents the generation of painful impulses.

Capsaicin Cream

If there is postherpetic neuralgia, you can use capsaicin cream to treat pain caused by nerve damage. After applying the cream to the affected parts of the body, you can feel the heat and irritation of the skin, but this is a temporary side effect, because gradually these feelings pass. Do not use the cream on parts of the body that are not affected by neuralgia, as this can cause them severe irritation. You also need to wear gloves when applying the cream and wash your hands after using it. Apply the cream in accordance with the instructions for use.

Video: Self-massage with intercostal neuralgia

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