The spine fulfills the most important functions in the human body. In this article, you will learn everything about what osteochondrosis is, what are the symptoms and treatment of this disease, what are the signs of pathology and what are the causes of the disease.
What is osteochondrosis?
Osteochondrosis is a disease that affects intervertebral discs and other tissues in the spine. Dystrophic processes are triggered in the spine. The vertebra, so to speak, compresses these intervertebral discs and squeezes them together, gradually causing the nerve endings of the spinal cord to become trapped.
Important! If osteochondrosis is not treated, a pathology can lead to disability.
Approximately 80% of the world's population suffer from diseases of the spine. Osteochondrosis is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 15 and 30. Although the disease affects both men and women, it is more difficult for a strong half of humanity to tolerate the disease.
The disease begins to develop and manifest in relative adulthood, when a person leads an active life. Although osteochondrosis is possible in children, it is much less common than in adults.
Despite the fact that experts around the world have come together to eradicate the disease, new cases of osteochondrosis are recorded every year. Whether problems arise depends heavily on the individual's personal efforts.
There are many types of osteochondrosis, so different doctors may use different classifications.
Depending on which part of the spine is affected, there are:
- cervical osteochondrosis;
- osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine;
- osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine;
- Osteochondrosis of the sacral region.
A distinction is also made between extensive osteochondrosis. This is a form of pathology that affects several departments at the same time. For example, osteochondrosis of the lumbosacral region often occurs because this part of the spine is constantly exposed to increased stress.
Regardless of the type of disease a person encounters, the complications are always serious. Therefore, it is important to identify the disease as soon as possible and provide qualified first aid.
When a doctor makes a diagnosis, he makes a note of the stage at which the pathology is detected. In osteochondrosis, 3 stages are distinguished according to the picture of an X-ray examination and 4 stages according to symptomatic changes.
What happens during the pathology?
Almost all vertebrae have a similar structure. They consist of a vertebral body and an arch. All vertebrae "folded" together form a vertebral canal. Between the vertebrae are discs - jelly-like tendons that act as shock absorbers.
In the intervertebral discs with osteochondrosis, pathological changes begin. The fibrous part gradually becomes more fragile. Under the pressure of the vertebrae, the nucleus pulposus seems to move on its own, looking for a place where it is easiest to do so.
In most cases, the intervertebral disc emerges into the spinal canal. This leads to compression of the spinal cord and the nerves located there. The result is pain and symptoms in the organs that these nerves are responsible for.
In response to pressure in the body, the processes of accelerated division of bone tissue are triggered. As a result, osteophytes begin to develop - bone growth that causes the main problems with osteochondrosis in a person.
In the case of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, the consequences can be sad, since the pathological process affects both the nervous and vascular systems at the same time.
Causes of osteochondrosis
Since osteochondrosis is a dangerous enemy, it is important to understand what triggers the onset of the disease. Regardless of where the disease is located, its causes are always similar.
The main reasons that osteochondrosis can develop are:
- premature aging of tissues in the intervertebral discs;
- constant overloading of the muscles that support the spine;
- Lack of adequate stress on these muscle groups;
- uneven load distribution between parts of the spine, which leads to an imbalance and the development of pseudospondylolisthesis;
- the presence of a genetic predisposition to the development of degenerative processes in cartilage tissues;
- the presence of autoimmune diseases, due to which their own antibodies disrupt the nutrition of the spine.
Undoubtedly, hormonal imbalances and poor nutrition can also affect spinal health. Some women first encountered symptoms of the disease during pregnancy when the workload increased.
Acute osteochondrosis usually develops after exposure to negative factors. The following factors can trigger symptoms:
- wrong posture;
- sedentary lifestyle;
- longer positioning in an uncomfortable position;
- lift heavy weights;
- lack of a muscular corset of the spine;
- Lack of vitamins and minerals necessary for the regeneration of bone and cartilage tissue;
- emotional experiences;
- severe infections;
- Effects of unfavorable ecology;
- prolonged hypothermia;
- be injured;
- abrupt changes in body position;
- weight training;
- wears shoes with uncomfortable heels;
- be overweight;
- metabolic disorders;
- congenital malformations.
As you can see, many factors can provoke the development of osteochondrosis. However, the earlier the first signs of the disease are discovered and the diagnosis is made, the greater the chances of curing the pathology and maintaining quality of life.
Features of the disease by stage
There are 4 stages of the disease and each has its own intensity of symptoms:
- In Grade 1 disease, the patient does not experience general symptoms, but only localized pain can occur.
- in the case of osteochondrosis of the 2nd degree, the pain becomes stronger, there is a protrusion of the intervertebral discs and subluxation of the vertebral bodies, violations of the statics are observed;
- Grade 3 osteochondrosis is characterized by significant symptoms, including more general ones, and the lesion reaches the stage of herniated disc development;
- In 4 stages of pathology, disability appears, and all drugs no longer bring relief.
Of course, if osteochondrosis is detected in the initial stages, then it is entirely possible to stop the progression of the disease.
However, osteochondrosis of the intervertebral vertebrae is divided depending on the damage to the vertebral body:
- no violations in level 0;
- in the 1st stage the disturbances are insignificant, sometimes there are internal cracks in the vertebrae;
- in the 2nd stage changes in the disc are quite noticeable and expressed, but the outer surface is preserved;
- In the 3rd stage, the intervertebral disc is completely affected and is pressed into the area of the spinal cord or outwards.
If you experience minor symptoms, even lumbar spine instability or discomfort in another area, you should seek advice from a specialist.
Symptoms of osteochondrosis
As already mentioned, the intensity of symptoms depends on the degree of damage to the vertebral body and the location of the damage. Most patients report similar symptoms.
If the pathological process is localized in the cervical spine, the following symptoms are possible:
- blurred vision;
- ear congestion;
- head noise;
- rings in the ears;
- sleep apnea;
- hearing loss;
- weakness of the vocal cords;
- cramps in the neck;
- changes in blood pressure;
- numbness of the tongue;
- swelling of the neck;
- pain in the eyes;
- vasospasm of the throat;
- dental problems.
The following phenomena occur with lesions of the spine in the chest area:
- muscle cramp resembling heart pain with cutting, stabbing and sharp character;
- the patient has difficulty breathing;
- chest pain and burning;
- there's a lump in my throat;
- possible cough and nausea;
- pain in the abdomen occurs, especially when inhaling and exhaling;
- there is severe weakness in the arms and legs;
- Complaints increase with a change in body position.
If you have problems with the sacral or lumbar spine, the following symptoms occur:
- back pain radiating to the legs;
- Freezing of the lower extremities at normal body temperature;
- numbness in the legs;
- constant tension in the leg muscles;
- varicose veins;
- Pallor of the skin;
As the osteochondrosis of the back progresses, several vertebrae can merge. Then the symptomatology gradually disappears, but reappears during the exacerbation of spring and autumn.
When the vagus nerve is pinched, digestive, heart rate, and bladder and bladder problems can occur.
Syndromes in osteochondrosis
It is common among doctors to divide symptoms into groups and syndromes. In intercostal osteochondrosis there is:
- vertebral syndrome;
- vertebral artery syndrome;
- cardiac or scapular rib syndrome;
It is worth taking a closer look at each of the syndromes.
In the vertebral syndrome, the following picture is observed:
- Mobility is impaired and neck pain occurs;
- Changes in the condition of the vertebrae are visible in the X-ray;
- The patient cannot turn his head painlessly to one side.
Important! When diagnosing, the doctor should distinguish between myositis and spinal syndrome, since the clinical picture is similar, but the methods of treatment are different.
The following manifestations are observed in this osteochondrosis syndrome:
- nausea, vomiting;
- pressure surges;
- flies in the eyes;
- violation of emotional stability.
The doctor should distinguish this syndrome from atherosclerotic changes in the vessels and tumor processes.
This syndrome is characterized by:
- chest pain;
- shortness of breath;
When visiting a hospital, an EKG and angiography must be done, which confirm the absence of atherosclerosis.
Pathological symptoms depend on which roots have changed. Generally, this group of symptoms includes:
- complaints in the occipital area;
- unpleasant sensations in language;
- difficulty chewing food;
- pain when swallowing;
- discomfort in the area of the shoulder blade;
- Difficulty performing hand movements;
- does not have 4 and 5 fingers.
Since several parts of the spine are usually involved in the pathological process in osteochondrosis, entire groups of symptoms occur.
If symptoms of osteochondrosis occur, tests are usually not done.
Some of the following tests are sufficient to make a diagnosis:
- computed tomography;
- magnetic resonance imaging.
Although a traditional x-ray allows a diagnosis, CT and MRI are used to more effectively select drugs and determine the degree of damage to the spine.
Treatment of osteochondrosis
Treatment should be comprehensive, both during an exacerbation and during the planned therapy. Applies to:
- drug treatment;
- manual therapy;
- Exercise therapy for osteochondrosis.
The most common treatment is at home. The main thing is that the patient strictly adheres to the doctor's prescription. If a patient needs injections, a day clinic may be recommended.
Special features of drug treatment
When treating with drugs, several groups of drugs are used at the same time. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed.
NSAIDs are initially prescribed as ointments. As the disease progresses, tablets, injections, or other anticonvulsant drugs may be recommended. Almost all nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have a pronounced analgesic effect.
In order for the spine to relax, you need to relieve muscle spasms. Muscle relaxants are used for these purposes.
If treatment is started in the early stages of the disease and the cartilage tissue has not yet been destroyed, it makes sense to take chondroprotectors.
Important! For all of these drugs to work, they must be taken systematically for at least six months.
Complexes of B vitamins can have a positive effect on regeneration.
The following drugs can also be prescribed:
- to expand blood vessels and improve nutrition;
- to combat dizziness;
- topical gel to improve blood circulation.
Compresses, mustard plasters and special anesthetic plasters with a medical composition are placed on the affected areas.
Perform manual therapy
Although massage of the neck and other affected areas is believed to be a folk method, this judgment is incorrect. Such procedures can only be performed with a doctor's prescription and careful training. Wrong actions can cause even more damage.
You can massage with honey or any medicinal oil. The following techniques are used:
- light strokes with the fingertips are made from the head to the upper back;
- just rubs;
- Press to grab deep layers of tissue; Knead
Cupping massage is effective. Self-massage can be done. It is highly undesirable to use massagers without consulting your doctor, as an ill-considered influence can damage already fragile intervertebral discs.
The value of exercise therapy for osteochondrosis
To get rid of the symptoms of osteochondrosis, it is important to regularly do a series of exercises for your back. Now there are many popular techniques for lumbar and cervical brace formation. Let's consider only the most effective and briefly discuss their essence.
Kinesitherapy neck exercises by the doctor help improve blood circulation, relieve pain and restore freedom of movement. Does not give a quick effect, the result is only after long-term therapy. In addition to training, it is important to consider the prescribed treatment and follow the diet. All exercises are done very slowly, ensuring proper muscle stretching.
Therapeutic exercises for another doctor's throat for osteochondrosis are useful not only for people with osteochondrosis, but also for many other problems. The complex is more like exercises for the neck, and the class can be done even at lunchtime. To get results and strengthen muscles, you need to exercise regularly and only after the appointment of your doctor.
General recommendations for the treatment of osteochondrosis
Since patients with osteochondrosis regularly need to be carefully warmed up, a visit to the bathroom is helpful for such a patient. It is only important to take into account the stage of the disease and the presence of other pathologies. Before such an intervention, you should consult a doctor.
To strengthen the muscle corset, you can use push-ups, fitness, and pilates with a trainer. It is necessary to visit the pool regularly. Each swimming lesson should not be shorter than 20 minutes, otherwise there will be no effects.
Treatment with folk remedies is permitted, but only after consultation with the treating doctor and as an auxiliary therapy. Physiotherapy, including electrophoresis, can be performed as directed by a doctor.
Even if the problems with the spine seem insignificant or the patient is still a child, it is still important to take an active part in the prevention of osteochondrosis.
It is important to observe the following best practices:
- use orthopedic sleeping pillows;
- lead an active lifestyle;
- Plan time for sport, especially swimming;
- warm up several times a day;
- Be careful when doing physically demanding work.
- give up bad habits.
Diet is important as certain foods increase the risk of disease, namely:
- smoked meat;
- fatty and fried foods.
It is important to limit soda and coffee, and it is better to give preference to tea and broths. Proper nutrition protects the body from damage to bones and cartilage tissue.
Since the process can be stopped and even reversed in the initial stages of osteochondrosis, it is necessary to immediately consult and examine a doctor when the first symptoms appear. This is the only way to maintain physical activity for many years!