The spine performs the most important functions in the human body. From this article, you can learn all about what is osteochondrosis, what are the symptoms and treatment of the disease, what are the signs of the pathology and the causes of the disease.
What is osteochondrosis
Osteochondrosis is a disease in which the intervertebral discs and other tissues of the spine are affected. Dystrophic processes start inside the spine. The vertebrae compress, crushing these discs, which gradually leads to tightening of the nerve endings in the spinal cord.
Important! If osteochondrosis is not treated, the pathology can cause a disability.
About 80% of the world's population suffers from spinal pathologies. Osteochondrosis is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 15 and 30. Although the disease occurs in both men and women, the strong half of humanity has a harder time tolerating this disease.
The disease begins to develop and manifest itself in relatively adulthood, when a person lives an active life. Although osteochondrosis is possible in children, it is much less common than in adults.
Despite the fact that professionals from all over the world have teamed up to eradicate the disease, new cases of osteochondrosis are registered every year. The fact that problems arise depends largely 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;
- thoracic spine osteochondrosis;
- osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine;
- sacral region osteochondrosis.
Extensive osteochondrosis can also be distinguished. This is a form of pathology in which several classes are involved at the same time. For example, osteochondrosis of the lumbosacral region is often observed because this part of the spinal column is subjected to a constantly increased load.
Whatever type of illness a person encounters, the complications are always severe. Therefore, it is important to identify the disease as soon as possible and provide qualified first aid.
When the doctor makes a diagnosis, he notes at what stage the pathology is detected. In osteochondrosis, 3 stages are distinguished based on the X-ray image and 4 stages according to the changes in symptoms.
What happens during pathology
Almost all vertebrae have similar structures. They consist of a vertebral body and an arch. All vertebrae "folded" form a spinal canal. There are discs between the vertebrae - jelly-like tendons that act as shock absorbers.
Abnormal changes begin in intervertebral discs with osteochondrosis. The fibrous part gradually becomes more brittle. Under the pressure of the vertebrae, the nucleus pulposus seems to move on its own, looking for a place where this is easiest to do.
In most cases, the disc exits the spinal canal. This leads to compression of the spinal cord and the nerves there. The result is pain and symptoms in the organs for which these nerves are responsible.
In response to pressure in the body, the processes of accelerated division of bone tissue begin. As a result, osteophytes begin to develop - the bone growths that cause the main problems of osteochondrosis in humans.
So with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, the consequences can be sad because the pathological process affects both the nervous system and the vascular system at the same time.
Causes of osteochondrosis
Because osteochondrosis is a dangerous enemy, it is important to understand what triggers the disease. No matter where the disease is located, the causes are always similar.
The main causes of osteochondrosis are:
- premature aging of intervertebral disc tissues;
- permanent overload of the muscles supporting the spine;
- lack of reasonable stress on these muscle groups;
- uneven distribution of load between parts of the spine, leading to imbalance and pseudospondylolisthesis;
- genetic predisposition to degenerative processes in cartilage tissues;
- The presence of autoimmune diseases that cause your own antibodies to disrupt the nutrition of the spine.
There is no doubt that hormonal imbalances and poor diet can also affect spinal health. Some women first encountered symptoms of the disease during pregnancy when the load increased.
Acute osteochondrosis usually develops after exposure to negative factors. The following factors may cause symptoms:
- incorrect posture;
- sedentary lifestyle;
- prolonged positioning in an awkward position;
- lifting heavy weights;
- lack of muscular corset in spine;
- lack of vitamins and minerals needed to regenerate bone and cartilage tissue;
- emotional experiences;
- severe infections;
- the impact of adverse ecology;
- prolonged hypothermia;
- is damaged;
- sudden change in body position;
- strength sports;
- wearing uncomfortable heels;
- metabolic disorders;
- congenital anomalies.
As you can see, many factors can provoke the development of osteochondrosis. However, the sooner the first signs of the disease are discovered and diagnosed, the greater the chance of curing the pathology and maintaining quality of life.
Disease characteristics by stage
The disease has four stages, each with its own intensity:
- In grade 1 disease, the patient does not experience general symptoms but only localized pain;
- In grade 2 osteochondrosis, the pain becomes stronger, the protrusions of the plates and the subluxation of the vertebral bodies develop, a violation of the statics is detected;
- In grade 3 osteochondrosis, significant symptoms, including general ones, are characteristic and the lesion reaches the stage of development of intervertebral hernia;
- Disability occurs at 4 stages of the pathology, and any medication no longer brings relief.
Of course, if osteochondrosis is detected in the initial stage, the progression of the disease can be stopped completely.
However, intervertebral osteochondrosis is divided depending on the damage to the vertebral body:
- there is no violation in Section 0;
- in stage 1, the abnormalities are insignificant, sometimes there are internal ruptures in the vertebrae;
- in stage 2, the changes in the plate are quite noticeable and expressed, but the outer surface is retained;
- In stage 3, the disc is completely affected, squeezing into the spinal cord area or outward.
If you experience minor symptoms, such as lumbar spine instability or discomfort in any other area, consult a professional for advice.
Symptoms of osteochondrosis
As 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.
When the pathological process is localized in the cervical spine, the following symptoms are possible:
- blurred vision;
- ear plugging;
- noise in the head;
- ringing in the ears;
- sleep apnea;
- hearing loss;
- weakness of vocal cords;
- spasm of the neck;
- changes in blood pressure;
- numbness of the tongue;
- swelling of the neck;
- eye pain;
- cervical spasm;
- dental problems.
Spinal lesions in the chest region include the following:
- a muscle spasm resembling a heartache of a cutting, stinging, and sharp nature;
- the patient has difficulty breathing;
- sternal pain and burns;
- there is a lump in the throat;
- possible cough and nausea;
- pain in the abdomen, especially during deep inhalation and exhalation;
- severe weakness in the arms and legs; The discomfort of
- increases as the position of the body changes.
The following complaints appear for sacral or lumbar spine problems:
- 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 vertebral osteochondrosis progresses, several vertebrae may merge. After that, the symptoms gradually fade, but reappear during the spring-autumn exacerbation.
If the vagus nerve becomes tight, digestion, heart rate, and bladder and bladder problems can occur.
Syndromes in osteochondrosis
It is common for doctors to divide symptoms into groups and syndromes. For intercostal osteochondrosis, the following are:
- vertebral syndrome;
- vertebral artery syndrome;
- heart or scapular rib syndrome;
- is radical.
You may want to look more closely at each syndrome.
With vertebral syndrome, the following image is observed:
- limited mobility and neck pain;
- changes in the condition of the vertebrae are visible on X-ray;
- The patient cannot turn his head painlessly to the side.
Important! When making a diagnosis, the physician must distinguish between myositis and vertebral syndrome because the clinical picture is similar but the methods of treatment are different.
The following manifestations of osteochondrosis syndrome are:
- nausea, vomiting;
- pressure increase;
- flies in the eyes;
- is a violation of emotional stability.
The physician should distinguish this syndrome from atherosclerotic changes in the blood vessels and tumor processes.
This syndrome is characterized by
- chest pain;
- shortness of breath;
When visiting a hospital, an ECG and angiography should be performed to confirm the absence of atherosclerosis.
Abnormal signs depend on which roots have undergone changes. It usually belongs to this group of symptoms:
- discomfort in the occipital area;
- unpleasant feelings in the language;
- Difficulty chewing food;
- pain when swallowing;
- discomfort in the shoulder blade;
- Difficulty performing hand gestures;
- has no 4 or 5 fingers.
Because most parts of the spine are most often involved in the pathological process of osteochondrosis, whole groups of symptoms occur.
No tests are usually performed when symptoms of osteochondrosis appear.
Some of the following tests are sufficient to make a diagnosis:
- computed tomography;
- magnetic resonance imaging.
Although a traditional X-ray allows diagnosis, CT and MRI are used to select drugs more efficiently and to determine the extent of spinal cord damage.
Treatment of osteochondrosis
Treatment should be comprehensive during both exacerbations and planned therapy. Applies to:
- manual therapy;
- Exercise therapy for osteochondrosis.
The most common treatment is home treatment. The point is that the patient strictly adheres to the doctor’s prescription. When the patient needs an injection, a day care hospital is recommended.
Peculiarities of medication
Drug treatment involves the use of several groups of drugs at the same time. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed.
NSAIDs are initially prescribed as ointments. As the disease progresses, tablets, injections or other antispasmodics may be recommended. Almost all non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have a pronounced analgesic effect.
You need to relieve muscle cramps to relax your spine. Muscle relaxants are used for these purposes.
If treatment is started in the early stages of the disease, when the cartilage tissue has not yet died, it is advisable to take chondroprotectors.
Important! In order for these drugs to have any effect, they must be taken systematically for at least six months.
B-vitamin complexes can have a positive effect on healing.
The following medications may also be prescribed:
- to dilate blood vessels and improve nutrition;
- to combat dizziness;
- topical gel to improve blood circulation.
Compressors, mustard plasters and specially formulated anesthetic patches are applied to the affected areas.
Perform manual therapy
Although it is believed that massaging the neck and other affected areas is a folk method, this judgment is wrong. Such procedures should only be performed after a doctor has been prescribed and carefully trained. Improper actions can do even more damage.
You can massage with honey or any medicinal oil. The following techniques are used:
- Perform light movements with your fingertips, from the head to the upper back;
- ongoing rubbing;
- clamping to bind deep tissue layers;
Cup massage is effective. Self-massage is available. It is highly undesirable to use massagers without consulting your doctor, as careful influence can damage already fragile plates.
The value of exercise in osteochondrosis
In order to get rid of the symptoms of osteochondrosis, it is important to do a series of exercises for your back on a regular basis. There are now a number of popular techniques for designing lumbar and cervical corsets. Let’s look at only the most effective and briefly discuss their essence.
A physiotherapy doctor’s neck exercise helps improve blood circulation, relieve pain, and restore freedom of movement. It does not give a quick effect, the result only occurs after long-term therapy. In addition to exercise, it is important to consider the prescribed treatment and follow a diet. All exercises are performed at a very slow pace while providing adequate muscle tension.
Therapeutic exercises for another doctor's neck for osteochondrosis are useful not only for people with osteochondrosis but also for many other problems. The complex resembles several neck exercises and classes can even be held at lunchtime. You should exercise regularly and only after your doctor’s appointment to achieve results and strengthen your muscles.
General recommendations for the treatment of osteochondrosis
Because patients with osteochondrosis need careful, periodic warm-up, a visit to the spa will be beneficial for such a patient. It is only important to consider the stage of the disease and the presence of other pathologies. You should consult your doctor before such a procedure.
You can use push-ups, fitness and pilates with a trainer to strengthen your muscles. You should visit the pool regularly. Each swim should not be shorter than 20 minutes, otherwise it has no effect.
Treatment with folk remedies is allowed, but only after consultation with your doctor and additional therapy. Physiotherapy, including electrophoresis, can be performed as directed by a physician.
Even if spinal problems seem insignificant or the patient is still a child, it is still important to be actively involved in preventing osteochondrosis.
It's important to follow these best practices:
- use orthopedic sleeping pillows;
- pursue an active lifestyle;
- take time for sports, especially swimming;
- heat several times a day;
- be careful when doing physically demanding work;
- gives up bad habits.
Diet is important because certain foods increase the risk of disease, namely:
- smoked meats;
- fatty and fried foods.
It is important to limit soda and coffee, and it is better to prefer tea and broths. Proper nutrition helps protect the body from damage to bone and cartilage.
Because the process can be stopped or even reversed in the early stages of osteochondrosis, a doctor should be consulted immediately and an examination should be performed as soon as the first symptoms appear. This is the only way to maintain physical activity for many years to come!