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Thoracic Radiculopathy

Hi everyone,

Last year I went to my GP with pain in the left side of my back, I believe in the T8/9 area, that wrapped around my ribs to the front of my upper abdomen. Was told it was an overuse injury, diagnosed with radiculopthy, and was given some pain pills.

After a couple of weeks of taking these pills and getting no relief I went back and got a referral to an orthopedist. Was given just an x-ray of the area and everything looked normal. No bone spurs or tumors or any other bony abnormalities were seen. It was concluded I had an intercostal neuritis and it would resolve on its own after a few months.......and low and behold it did resolve.

Fast forward to this past January and the pain, numbness, and tingling came back. This time though, it seems worse than before. It definitely bothers me more, and I can really feel it mainly in my upper abdomen just below my sternum. It's very hard to describe the feeling. At times it's burning, others I'll get maybe a jolt of pain. Often it feels as though I've done 100 crunches and I get that lactic acid type burn in the muscles. It just feels so weird it's like you have to constantly rub it. Like an internal tickle or something. Twisting or certain other positions will aggravate my back in the area and I can feel the muscles all around my torso painfully stretch with those movements. 

I'm a stomach sleeper and for a while before this began I would often wake up with painful ribs, so I'm fairly certain this posture on a pretty old mattress is playing a role in my current situation. I'm sure other factors are at play here as well, but I haven't figured them out yet as I'm pretty new to this pain experience.

Anyway, since I'm turning 40 this year just to be thorough I made an appointment with a gastroenterologist to make sure the insides all check out before I start investigating the outside. I'll be heading there Monday. I trust my doc who has taken care of me for 30 years, but I'm a bit of a worrier and want to be sure. 

Just wanted to share my story and see if anyone else has had any similar experiences. I have read through the forum and see that the thoracic area can have some funny things that go along with it and all kinds of oddball pains that can happen. If this is the start of a long painful journey I'm glad I found a place where people understand where you come from.

Thank you for reading,



  • I have the same thing but my pain is localized to my back on one side and up into the shoulder blade, also wraps around the ribs on the same side, as it is now. My pain doctor has it narrowed down to a facet injury, which I had years ago and it went away, back to stay after my 2011 car accident. I go for a T4-ish facet block next week.
    Diagnosis: Thoracic facet syndrome & cervical and thoracic radiculopathy from car accident trauma.
  • I find it such a hard "pain" to describe it drives me nuts sometimes. Going to push for further testing so I can really pinpoint the issue.....hopefully. Right now I'm sitting in limbo dealing with it until then, and unfortunately nerve pain does not respond to over the counter painkillers. 
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  • Nothing OTC helps my pain. Doubled up Aleve gives some relief but my doctors didn't want me doing that long term.
    Diagnosis: Thoracic facet syndrome & cervical and thoracic radiculopathy from car accident trauma.
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    Hello jr616 !
    I may have missed it, but did you mention who diagnosed your thoracic radiculopathy? ..your GP?
    And curious what kind of test did he do?

    I have very similiar pain. My PCP tried caring for my pain two years before referring me to pain management doctor.
    Best thing for me!
    While immediately helping to take the edge off my pain, he did variety of tests, many of which were not mentioned to me previously.

    He was then able to adjust my treatment to the causes he found and to my changing and increasing symptoms.

    Please click on link for helpful information!
    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • Hi Sue,

    When this first happened last year my GP originally diagnosed me and then a trip to an Orthopedist agreed with the diagnosis. However, all I received was an x-ray. No MRI or anything. So I have no idea what was causing it, and after it resolved a month later I thought it was over. Now that it has returned I have made an appointment with a new Ortho this coming Monday, 3/20, who was recommended by a nurse friend of mine to try and get down to the bottom of this. 

    I will I'll keep you posted as to the findings. I plan to request an MRI because something is rotten in Denmark and x-rays just don't cut it.

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  • So I went to see the Orthopedist today and had another x-ray that only showed some age related arthritis in the spine. No bone spurs, tumors, or anything solid that's causing this. The doctor definitely feels something neurological is going on in the t7/t8 area so he has ordered an MRI. I'm hoping something comes up on it so I can get a definitive diagnosis and start some sort of treatment. In the meantime I've been prescribed a 10 day course of Prednisone to see if it helps at all. 

  • Well, for anyone reading, official diagnosis:
    paracentral left disc protrusions at T6-T7 & T7-T8. Got a script for PT. And so my journey begins.
  • morgank47morgank47 Vista, CaliforniaPosts: 58
    I've had this pain at the T7 level, which I believe was the last rib that attaches to the sternum on the right side. I had to go in for a gallbladder ultrasound scan because the pain I had there was so sharp and severe. At the particular time my posture was horrendous due to injury though, massive anterior pelvic tilt with kyphosis and forward head posture. It dissipated after about 2 months of rest. Unrelated, I still have a lot of trouble with getting full range of motion with thoracic Extension. I have a lot of facet issues, bone spurs, and disc bulges from T4-T10 from rear end car accident. Best of luck.
  • I've got similar issues, right side, T7-8, T8-9 ... big-time pain that starts just to the right of the mid-line then slowly wraps around to the anterior chest wall. I had both segments fused a month ago ... fusion seems to be coming along, but the pain along that intercostal nerve still drives me nuts every day. It's very clear and specific and repeatable ... everyday when I arise...the whole thing starts again as gravity does it's thing. I'm trying to figure out if it's costovertebral, costotransverse, subcostal muscle or somethin' else along that rib -- and I KNOW it's coming from that rib! I'm thinkin' about a costotransverse block. Have any of you had this injection?
  • itsautonomicitsautonomic LouisianaPosts: 2,561
    TennisBum, you had both those thoracic levels fused?  What was the diagnosis, that's a big surgury.
    Do your due dilegence, trust you know your body and question everything if it does not fit. Advocate for yourself and you will be suprised what will be revealed trusting your body and instinct.
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