KOSAI Oriental Healthcare Center/KOSAI acupuncture clinic【since 1905】Tokyo,Japan



Intercostal neuralgia

What is intercostal neuralgia

Nerve pain that occurs around the ribs is called intercostal neuralgia. Patients are often women after middle age, however its cause and symptoms are vary. Numerous nerves run from the spinal cord and along the spaces between the ribs to the front of the body. The pain may occur by deep breath, cough, sneeze, or laud voice, and its last from few seconds to few minutes and repetitive. The pain may make breathing difficult or uncomfortable.

The cause

Usually, intercostal neuralgia are categorised as primary or virus. Primary intercostal neuralgia is caused by muscle over-use, fatigue, stress, or nerves compression occurred by keeping bad posture for long hours. However, there can be another cause such as thoracic spine hernia or angina if the pain lasts long or gets from bad to worse.

Virus related cause is herpes zoster. Herpes Zoster Virus (HZV) is dormant in ganglion of the nerve and when immune system is suppressed, HZV grow proliferously in satellite cells that ensphere ganglion of the nerve. The HZV is sometimes the cause of intercostal neuralgia.
The unique symptoms of intercostal neuralgia that caused by HZV are persistent pain, red rash on the skin, or blister. (Red rash and blister do not emerge necessarily.) Herpes Zoster is manageable by taking antiviral medication, however, sometimes neuralgia emerges. It is so-called postherpetic neuralgia.

Treating intercostal neuralgia by acupuncture

Primary intercostal neuralgia is bettered by releasing hypertonic muscular or neuron condition, and acupuncture works very well on releasing them. When intercostal neuralgia emerge, the balance of whole body or function of entire body is often suppressed, hence we treat not only intercostal neuralgia, but body as a whole.

When intercostal neuralgia is HZV related, antiviral medication is required. However there is a case that you still suffer from intercostal neuralgia after herpes zoster is cured. Acupuncture is effective treatment to postherpetic neuralgia as well. The types of pain accompanied with intercostal neuralgia differs, yet acupuncture works very well for all types of pain.