Lumbar osteochondrosis is a neurological disease of the spine that affects people of all ages and in which there are degenerative-dystrophic changes in the lumbar spine. They affect the intervertebral discs, articular cartilage and bone tissue.
The cause of the disease is the heavy load that the lower back experiences every day - when walking, sitting, lifting weights. It is very important to start treatment of osteochondrosis as early as possible in order to avoid possible complications. Lumbar osteochondrosis is a fairly complex disease that requires complex therapy under the supervision of an experienced specialist.
Lumbosacral osteochondrosis is a degenerative-dystrophic disease of the spinal articular cartilage located in the lumbar spine. In other words, this disease means the destruction of the cartilaginous discs that are located between the vertebral bodies. The mobility of the vertebrae decreases, the distance between them decreases, compression (compression) of the nerve endings occurs.
The lumbosacral spine suffers more often than others from the fact that the maximum load falls on it. In 80% of patients who complain of back pain, doctors accurately diagnose osteochondrosis. The disease begins with the breakdown of glycoproteins in connective tissue, these compounds give it elasticity. The intervertebral discs are the first to suffer from this process.
Each disc consists of a nucleus and an outer annulus fibrosus. After the core dries out, the disc loses its elastic properties and the fibrous ring tears and delaminates. The core can fall out through gaps in the ring (a hernia occurs).
As a result of these processes, the load on the vertebrae increases significantly, the body responds to this with a sharp increase in the formation of bone tissue in places of increased load.
Which vertebrae are affected
The lumbar spine consists of five vertebrae: L1-L5, the fifth vertebra is attached to the sacrum. The discs between them are most often affected in osteochondrosis.
There are several types of lumbosacral osteochondrosis, they differ in the location of the vertebrae.
- Disease of the upper lumbar spine (1, 2 and 3 vertebrae).
- Disease of the lower lumbar spine (3rd, 4th and 5th vertebrae).
- Osteochondrosis of the sacrum (localized in the sacrum). This type of disease is very rare.
- Fusion of the bones of the sacrum and the vertebrae.
Stages of development of lumbosacral osteochondrosis
There are four stages (sometimes three are distinguished) of osteochondrosis of the lumbosacral region. Here you are:
- There are changes in the core and its position.
- The destruction of the outer ring of fibers begins.
- After the ring breaks, the core falls out.
- Destructive processes affect the vertebrae, joints, ligaments.
At the first stage of lumbosacral osteochondrosis, a person feels some discomfort and pain in the lower back. It can be acute or painful. There is a spasm of the muscles and blood vessels, problems in the functioning of the organs.
Spasms of the vessels of the lower extremities can lead to atherosclerosis, dysfunction of the bladder.
In the second stage, the back muscles are constantly tense due to the instability of the vertebrae. Patients complain of lower back fatigue, discomfort, and insecurity.
In the third stage, the core of the disc falls out of the fibrous ring and an intervertebral hernia occurs. Fragments of a fallen disc pinch the nerve roots that innervate internal organs, muscles, and skin areas. As a result, a change in sensitivity of a certain area develops, a burning sensation, numbness and loss of sensitivity may appear. Nerve compression can result in loss of motor function or muscle atrophy.
Depending on the area where there is an injury to the innervation, doctors can tell exactly where the spine is damaged. If fragments of the intervertebral disc fall into the spinal canal, the spinal cord is pinched. This often disrupts the function of the pelvic organs and the motor functions of the lower extremities.
In the fourth stage, the disc tissue is completely replaced by dense connective tissue. The spine's supportive function is somewhat restored, the pain subsides somewhat, but mobility and elasticity are lost.
The above stages are conditional, since the development of the disease is very individual.
Symptoms: The body will tell
Symptoms can be divided into the main ones associated with spinal changes and additional ones associated with impaired innervation due to pinched nerves.
- Lower back pain and numbness. At first, it can be temporary, manifesting itself with physical exertion and movement. As they develop, they become permanent, may be sharp or painful, appear even when coughing or sneezing;
- fatigue and depression;
- decrease in sensitivity of the lower extremities;
- limited mobility of the lower back;
- curvature of the spine, lordosis.
- sharp back pain;
- deterioration of reflexes;
- shooting in lower extremities, lameness;
- muscle weakness;
- decrease in sweating;
- feeling of coldness in the legs.
Depending on the localization of osteochondrosis, pain is observed in different parts of the body:
- with damage to 1-2 vertebrae - in the groin area;
- with damage to 3-4 vertebrae - in the lower leg and thigh area;
- with the defeat of the 5th vertebra - in the sacrum, lower back.
How is lumbosacral osteochondrosis diagnosed?
The diagnosis starts with a detailed questioning of the patient. The doctor should carefully listen to the patient's complaints, find out the localization and intensity of the pain, and pay special attention to secondary symptoms (loss of skin sensitivity, impaired motor skills).
The doctor must follow the evolution of symptoms over time, analyze the nature and effectiveness of previous treatment (or self-treatment). In addition, the doctor should pay attention to the anamnesis, ask the patient about his lifestyle, his working conditions and previous illnesses.
Particular attention should be paid to posture, any curvature of the spine. It is worth noting how the patient moves, the degree of development of the muscles.
The main diagnostic tool for lumbosacral osteochondrosis is radiography. MRI and computed tomography are used successfully.
The lumbosacral region has a number of unique features. The spinal cord ends at the level of the 12th thoracic-1 lumbar vertebra. In the lumbosacral region are fibers of the spinal nerves, collected in a bundle. The lumbar and sacral roots form the sciatic nerve.
The main feature of this section of the spine is a large load (dynamic and static), which it constantly experiences. Therefore, the intervertebral discs wear out earlier.
This disease is dangerous for its consequences:
- Damage to knee and pelvic joints;
- dysfunction of internal organs (problems with potency in men and reproductive organs in women);
- lumbago, sciatica and lumbar sciatica;
- compression of the spinal cord, which leads to impaired reflexes;
- Inflammation of the sciatic nerve.
Scientists still cannot answer what exactly causes this disease. Or rather, which of the factors has the greatest influence on its development. Some of the researchers believe that lumbosacral osteochondrosis is the price a person pays for walking upright. In fact, this disease is not observed in animals.
The factors that cause this disease can be divided into external and internal. Here are the main reasons why:
- severe spinal injury;
- flat feet;
- prolonged standing;
- postural disorders;
- sedentary lifestyle;
- unbalanced diet.
who is at risk
Nobody is immune to this disease. Hereditary factors determine a greater or lesser predisposition to it. However, external factors and a person's lifestyle have a major impact on the likelihood of contracting this disease.
Another cause of the disease is excessive exercise and injury.
Proper nutrition is important for the prevention of osteochondrosis: food should contain all the necessary components, be rich in vitamins and trace elements.
Treatment can be surgical or conservative. If the disease is at the stage of the appearance of intervertebral hernias, then surgical intervention is indispensable. Conservative treatment includes the following methods:
- drug therapy;
- physical therapy and spinal traction;
- massage and manual therapy;
- Physiotherapy exercises.
Drug therapy includes anti-inflammatory drugs, pain relievers, anti-spasm drugs, and injection blocks. Chondroprotectors are also used, they relieve pain and promote the regeneration of damaged cartilage formations. In some cases, hormonal drugs are used.
Basic principles for the prevention of lumbosacral osteochondrosis:
- avoiding excessive strain on the lower back;
- strengthening the back muscles;
- maintaining correct posture;
- physical activity;
- right nutrition;
- regulation of the rest regime;
- timely treatment of other diseases of the back.
treatments at home
There are very simple exercises that a person can do on their own at home. They are used for both therapeutic and prophylactic purposes. Their main task is to strengthen the back muscles in order to partially relieve the spine.
Therapeutic exercises are one of the main methods of treating osteochondrosis. Exercise helps to strengthen the muscles, which takes some of the strain off the spine. Improves blood circulation in tissues, including intervertebral discs. Therapeutic exercises help relieve muscle tension and relieve pain.
Massage is an excellent treatment for lumbar osteochondrosis. It improves blood circulation in tissues, relieves pain, relieves tension, strengthens the muscular corset.
Instead of an epilogue
Summing up, it can be said that this disease is a real "disease of the century" that threatens every modern person.
Lumbosacral osteochondrosis gives a person unbearable pain and can turn into a disabled person. It is very difficult to treat this disease, especially in an advanced form.
The positive point is that it is within the power of each of us to avoid developing osteochondrosis. All you have to do is take care of your spine: don't strain it too much, watch your own weight, lead a healthy lifestyle, eat normally, avoid injuries.
If you have begun to notice the first symptoms of osteochondrosis, consult a doctor. In the initial stages, this disease is quite easy to treat. Take care of your spine so that movements give you pleasure even in old age and do not cause any discomfort.