Most of the unpleasant pain in the lumbar region and spine is related to a disease such as osteochondrosis. This applies to about 40% of men and women aged 30-40 and about 90% of the elderly. Therefore, the earlier the disease is diagnosed, the more thoroughly the patient is examined, the higher the likelihood of stopping the progression of osteochondrosis and maintaining activity in old age.
Determining the disease, the cause of the disease
So what is osteochondrosis, where does it develop, what structures does it affect, what is the treatment method? The disease manifests itself between the vertebrae of the spine and tissues and is manifested by a violation of their shape, density, elasticity and sometimes integrity. As a result, the distance between the spines is reduced, the spinal column gradually loses its stability, the nerves tighten, a hernia may develop, which is accompanied by back pain and discomfort during movement.
If we briefly describe the essence of osteochondrosis, then it is a gradual abrasion of the tissues of the intervertebral discs (cartilage), which leads to instability of the spine. If left untreated, ligament and joint degeneration occurs, osteophytes appear, posture is disrupted, and movements are accompanied by pain.
Causes of spinal osteochondrosis:
- Inactive lifestyle with deficiency of muscle load;
- Spinal cord injury;
- Systematic intense stress in the spine;
- Excess weight;
- Hormonal and autoimmune diseases;
- Toxic poisoning;
- Congenital connective tissue failure;
- Psychosomatic causes (stress, depression, etc. ).
Symptoms of osteochondrosis
The disease is characterized by periods of remission and exacerbation with varying degrees of symptom severity. The main symptoms of osteochondrosis of the spine, characteristic of the main types of disease, in the lumbar, cervical and thoracic areas:
- The pain is localized to a specific area of the spine;
- A pronounced type of pain syndrome associated with damage to nearby muscle tissue;
- Myelopathy and radiculopathy caused by compression of the nerve endings of the spinal cord and blood vessels.
Depending on which part of the spine is affected by the disease, the list of symptoms of osteochondrosis may vary. In particular: Patients report muscle tingling, numbness of the limbs, other sensory disturbances, strength of the arm and legs, headache and pain in the heart, pain in the lumbar region.
Pathogenesis of osteochondrosis
Before the elastic fibrous nucleus of the intervertebral disc begins to lose elasticity and deform, a number of processes related to osteochondrosis take place in the human body:
- Spasms, dystonia, inflammation;
- Decreased blood circulation;
- Damage to nerve cell processes.
In addition, cracks appear on the deformed annulus, disc protrusion develops, and a hernia forms. Typically, these triggering factors for spinal disease develop in childhood or adolescence and are often the result of poor posture, scoliosis, sports injuries, infectious diseases, or congenital vascular disorders.
Stages of osteochondrosis
There are three stages in the development of osteochondrosis of the spine:
- The first, during which the intervertebral disc begins to decrease in height, acquires a flattened shape, loses moisture, elasticity, may protrude;
- The second develops in the absence of treatment and is manifested by disruption of the fibrous ring structure of the spine, the appearance of cracks and the development of instability in a certain area of the spine;
- Characterized by rupture of the intervertebral cartilage, the development of a hernia, the formation of bone processes in osteophytes.
The symptoms of developing osteochondrosis of the spine become more intense from the first to the third stage.
Classification of osteochondrosis
The classification of osteochondrosis is based on several signs, the most important of which is the localization zone. Distinguish:
- Lumbar osteochondrosis;
- Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine;
- Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine.
Osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine is manifested by pain in the lumbar region, which increases with body rotation, weight gain. Pain may be given in the foot or both feet, characterized by pain. With acute syndrome, a hernia is suspected. Lumbar osteochondrosis, muscle spasms in the legs, skin peeling often occur.
With the development of cervical spine osteochondrosis, 1-7 vertebrae are affected. The disease is accompanied by headaches in the head, pain in the neck, knees, shoulders. Crunching is possible during head rotation, numbness of the upper extremities, feeling of a tumor in the throat.
With osteochondrosis of the spine in the chest, the patient suffers from pain in the chest, shoulders, arms, heart. Perhaps a feeling of shortness of breath, the development of attacks of intercostal neuralgia.
Osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine is the most common, in the chest it is the most rare.
Complications of osteochondrosis
If a patient thinks too late about treating osteochondrosis when the symptoms of the disease are pronounced, the following complications may develop:
- Intervertebral hernia;
- Spinal cord stroke;
- Spinal kyphosis;
- Paralysis of the lower extremities.
In the absence of treatment, the patient begins to aggravate the condition, which is characterized by an increase in pain, retention of movement, a sharp deterioration in general well-being. The most terrible complication of osteochondrosis of the spine is disability. Therefore, high quality and timely treatment of osteochondrosis is needed to prevent such serious changes in the functioning of the musculoskeletal system.
Diagnosis of osteochondrosis
A disease such as osteochondrosis is primarily pain in the spine. But it is important to distinguish it from pain caused by problems other than intervertebral disc degeneration. To do this, doctors make a step-by-step diagnosis, which includes:
- Taking a history, Which involves talking between the specialist and the patient to determine the exact location of the pain localization, the factors that cause the condition to worsen. It is important to know the occupation of the patient, the period when the problems in the spine started, when the aggravation occurred, what kind of pain occurs in the lumbar region and other regions, what treatment methods the patient used.
- Physiological examinationAllows you to determine body proportions, quality of movements and actions performed, skin condition, degree of pain sensitivity. The doctor, on palpation, determines the condition of the muscle tissue, the presence of rings, swelling, and so on. Sh.
- X-ray of the spine in two planesFor a visual assessment of the condition. Allows you to determine the movement of the spine, the presence of osteophytes, salt deposition.
If the data collected for treatment are not sufficient, or there is a suspicion of serious pathology of the spine, the patient is prescribed computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, which allows detailed examination of the spine, vessels, soft tissues, nerve processes and osteochondrosis. To determine treatment.
Treatment of osteochondrosis
Like any disease, osteochondrosis requires identification of the cause that led to its development. Reducing the severity of symptoms is not the main but important stage of treatment, the outcome of which depends on many factors. In some cases it is a complete cure, in some cases it is a prevention of complications and disability.
A group of measures is used to treat osteochondrosis of the spine:
- Changing the patient's daily routine;
- Prescribing medications to reduce symptoms;
- Physiotherapy procedures (massage, acupuncture, electrophoresis, exercise therapy, etc. ).
Changing the daily regimen for the treatment of osteochondrosis of the spine involves reducing the intensity of physical activity, resting in bed with severe pain, avoiding sharp turns and bending.
Medications for the treatment of osteochondrosis of the spine
They can be divided into several groups:
- Muscle relaxants to relieve pain, including tablets, injectable anesthetics, and anti-inflammatory injections for osteochondrosis. Homeopathic remedy normalizes thyroid function, improves lymph drainage, has anti-inflammatory, detoxifying and immunomodulatory effects.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In patients with osteoarthritis, there is a decrease in the progression of inflammatory and destructive changes in the joints, improvement of cartilage integrity, thickness and other characteristics, and stimulation of bone tissue repair.
- Anti-inflammatory topical ointments and alternative transdermal patches. Such drugs have analgesic, antirheumatic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory action. The mechanism of action is to reduce the production of inflammatory mediators, reduce body temperature and pain.
- Therapeutic analgesic blockade;
- B vitamins.
Of the additional funds that can be used for treatment, to alleviate the general condition, and to improve the function of the spine and intervertebral discs, the most effective have been shown to be:
- Professional massage and self-massage;
- Physical education courses;
- Manual therapy.
If the disease of the spine is not neglected, it proceeds without serious complications, 1. With competent treatment within 5-2 months, the condition will improve significantly and the transition to a chronic form of the disease can be avoided. In severe cases, doctors recommend surgical treatment.
Prevention of spinal osteochondrosis includes:
- Maintain a proper daily routine by changing body position and moderate physical activity;
- Regular visits to the pool;
- Body weight control;
- Wearing comfortable shoes;
- Balanced diet;
- Sleep on an orthopedic pillow and mattress;
- Taking lost nutrients or prophylactic homeopathic medicines to boost immunity, improve overall health, and eliminate dystonia.
It is necessary to undergo annual medical examinations and consult a doctor for treatment as soon as any spinal pain appears.
No matter what kind of osteochondrosis we are talking about - lumbar, cervical or thoracic, attention to our own health should become a good habit, especially when it comes to the basis of the entire musculoskeletal system - the spine.