Abdominal pain can be very difficult to diagnose and often results in misguided treatment. Physicians tend to concentrate on the more common diseases and prescribe medicines for treatment. In the process, they sometimes misdiagnose rare diseases since they do not come across these very often.
Intercostal neuralgia is one such rare disorder that is often missed during diagnosis. The muscles between the ribs that contract during inhalation are called intercostal muscles. An acute spasmodic pain that arises along the course of the nerves in that area is called intercostal neuralgia.
Intercostal neuralgia occurs due to compressions in the nerves in the thorax-abdomen region or the ribcage area. These compressions can occur due various reasons, such as
An enlarged abdomen, especially in aged patients
An abdominal muscle tissue rupture
A scar or suture around the nerve
Excessive use of abdominal muscles
Musculoskeletal conditions, like a short leg or an abnormal curve in the vertebral column
Like sciatica, intercostal neuralgia is caused by a pinched nerve.
Intercostal neuralgia is usually treated by injecting a local anesthetic (like Lidocaine or Xylocaine) in the affected region. The process requires extreme caution and should be performed by a qualified physician who has a detailed knowledge of the human anatomy.
In cases where the intercostal pain persists or occurs frequently, the specific portion of the nerve causing pain needs to be destroyed. In certain cases where this nerve is entrapped in an abdominal scar, the suture needs to be excised.
Given that conventional medicine only offers strong drugs and invasive surgeries, many people are looking towards more natural means of treatment for most ailments. Since intercostal neuralgia is also caused by a compressed nerve, patients could explore sciatica alternative remedies used for alleviating pain. Cold therapy and the ancient Chinese therapies of acupuncture and acupressure are also modes of treatment that have shown to produce good results.