Most cases of uncomfortable pain in the lumbar region and spine are associated with a disease such as osteochondrosis. It affects about 40% of men and women aged 30-40 years and about 90% of the elderly. Therefore, the earlier the disease is diagnosed, the more the patient is examined, the higher the likelihood of stopping the progression of osteochondrosis and maintaining activity at an older age.
Definition of disease, cause of disease
So what is osteochondrosis, where does it develop, what structures does it affect, what is the method of treatment? The disease affects the spine and tissues between the vertebrae and is expressed in a violation of their shape, density, elasticity and sometimes even their integrity. As a result, the distance between the vertebrae is reduced, the spine gradually loses its stability, nerve tightening, the formation of hernias 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 erosion of the intervertebral disc tissue (cartilage), leading to spinal instability. If left untreated, degradation of ligaments and joints develops, osteophytes appear, behavior is disturbed, movements are accompanied by pain.
Causes of osteochondrosis of the spine:
- an inactive lifestyle with a deficit in muscle load;
- spinal cord injury;
- intense systemic stress on the spine;
- hormonal and autoimmune diseases;
- toxic poison;
- congenital connective tissue failure;
- psychosomatic reasons (stress, depression, etc. ).
Symptoms of osteochondrosis
The disease is characterized by periods of remission and worsening with varying degrees of severity of symptoms. The main symptoms of spinal osteochondrosis, characteristic of the main types of disease, lumbar, cervical and thoracic:
- localized pain in a certain area of the spine;
- pain syndrome of the reflected type associated with damage to nearby musculoskeletal tissue;
- myelopathy and radiculopathy resulting from 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 change. Namely: patients notice tingling sensation in the muscles, numbness in the limbs, other sensory disorders, decrease in strength in the arms and legs, headache and heart pain, pain in the lower back.
Pathogenesis of osteochondrosis
Before the elastic fibrous nucleus of the intervertebral disc begins to lose elasticity and deform, a number of processes involving osteochondrosis occur in the human body:
- spasms, dystonia, inflammation;
- decreased blood circulation;
- damage to nerve cell processes.
Further, cracks appear in the deformed ring, disc elongation develops, and a hernia forms. Typically, these suggestive factors of spinal disease develop during 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 spinal osteochondrosis:
- the first, in which the intervertebral disc begins to decrease in height, taking on a flattened shape, loses moisture, elasticity, may protrude;
- the second develops in the absence of treatment and is manifested by a violation of the structure of the fibrous ring of the vertebral disc, the appearance of cracks and the development of instability in a certain area of the spine;
- characterized by rupture of the intervertebral cartilage, development of hernia, formation of bone processes of osteophytes.
The symptoms of developing osteochondrosis of the spine become more intense from the first stage to the third.
Classification of osteochondrosis
The classification of osteochondrosis is based on several signs, the main of which is the area of localization. Distinguish:
- lumbar osteochondrosis;
- osteochondrosis of the cervical spine;
- thoracic spine osteochondrosis.
Osteochondrosis in the lumbar spine is manifested by pain in the lumbar region, which increases with the return of the body, lifting weights. Pain can be given to the foot or both feet, characterized as pain. With an acute syndrome, a hernia is suspected. With lumbar osteochondrosis, spasms often appear in the muscles of the legs, the skin of the skin.
With the development of osteochondrosis of the spine in the cervical spine, vertebrae 1-7 are affected. The disease is accompanied by a headache in the back of the head, pain in the neck, clavicle, shoulders. A crackle is possible during head rotation, numbness of the upper limbs, a feeling of a lump in the throat.
With osteochondrosis of the spine in the chest region, the patient worries about pain in the chest, shoulders, armpits, heart. Perhaps a feeling of shortness of breath, the development of attacks of intercostal neuralgia.
Osteochondrosis in the lumbar spine is more common, in the chest it is more rare.
Complications of osteochondrosis
If the patient thought about treating osteochondrosis too late, when the symptoms of the disease are pronounced, the following complications may occur:
- intervertebral hernia;
- stroke in the spinal cord;
- spinal kyphosis;
- paralysis of the lower extremities.
In the absence of treatment, the patient begins to suffer from regular worsening of the condition, which are characterized by increasing pain, inhibitory movements, significantly impairing overall well-being. The most terrible complication of spinal osteochondrosis is disability. Therefore, to prevent such serious changes in the work of the musculoskeletal system, high-quality and timely treatment of osteochondrosis is needed.
Diagnosis of osteochondrosis
A disease such as osteochondrosis is mainly back pain. But it is important to distinguish it from pain caused by problems other than degeneration of the intervertebral discs. To do this, doctors perform a step-by-step diagnosis, which includes:
- Obtaining anamnesis, which means a conversation between a specialist and a patient to identify the exact area of pain localization, factors that provoke a worsening of the condition. Importers it is important to know the profession of the patient, the period when the problems with the spine began, when there was a deterioration, what kind of pain occurs in the lumbar areas and other, what methods of treatment the patient uses.
- Physiological examinationallows you to determine the proportions of the body, the quality of movements and actions performed, the condition of the skin, the degree of sensitivity to pain. The doctor, by palpation, determines the condition of muscle tissue, the presence of seals, edema, etc.
- X-ray of the spine in two planesfor a visual assessment of the condition. Allows you to determine the displacement of the vertebrae, the presence of osteophytes, the deposition of salt.
If the data collected for the description of treatment are not sufficient, or there is a suspicion of a serious pathology of the spine, the patient is prescribed CT and magnetic resonance imaging, thanks to which it is possible to examine in detail the vertebrae, vessels, soft tissues, nerve processes and create a complete picture of the condition of the spine affected by osteochondrosis to determine treatment tactics.
Treatment of osteochondrosis
Like any disease, osteochondrosis requires identification of the cause that triggered its development. Reducing the severity of symptoms is not the main stage, but an important stage of treatment, the outcome of which depends on a number of factors. In some cases it is a complete cure, in others it is the prevention of complications and disability.
In the treatment of osteochondrosis of the spine, a set of measures is used:
- changing the patient's daily regimen;
- prescribing medications to reduce symptoms;
- physiotherapy procedures (massage, acupuncture, electrophoresis, exercise therapy, etc. ).
Changing the daily regimen in the treatment of osteochondrosis of the spine includes a decrease in the intensity of physical activity, bed rest with severe pain, exclusion of sharp turns and twists.
Medications for the treatment of osteochondrosis of the spine
They can be divided into several groups:
- muscle relaxants for pain relief, including tablets, injection anesthetics and anti-inflammatory injections for osteochondrosis. Homeopathic preparation normalizes the functionality of the thyroid gland, improves lymph drainage, has anti-inflammatory, detoxifying and immunomodulatory effects.
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. When used in patients with osteoarthritis, there is a decrease in the progression of inflammatory and destructive changes in the joints, an improvement in the integrity, thickness and other characteristics of cartilage, and stimulation of bone tissue repair.
- topical anti-inflammatory ointments and alternative transdermal patches. Such drugs have analgesic, anti-rheumatic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory effects. The working mechanism is to reduce the production of inflammatory mediators, lower body temperature and pain.
- remedies for therapeutic analgesic blockages;
- Vitamin B
Of the additional funds that can be used for treatment, alleviation of the general condition and improvement of the function of the spine and intervertebral discs, the most effective have been shown:
- professional massage and self-massage;
- physical education courses;
- manual therapy.
If the disease of the spine is not neglected, it continues without serious complications, in 1. 5-2-2 months of competent treatment, the condition can be significantly improved and the transition of the disease to a chronic form can be prevented. In severe cases, doctors recommend surgical treatment.
Prevention of spinal osteochondrosis includes:
- adherence to a proper daily regimen, with a change in body position and moderate physical activity;
- regular visits to the pool;
- body weight control;
- wearing comfortable shoes;
- Balanced diet;
- sleeping on an orthopedic pillow and mattress;
- taking missing nutrients or homeopathic preventative medications to boost immunity, improve overall health, and eliminate dystonia.
It is necessary to undergo medical examinations every year and consult a doctor for treatment immediately after the appearance of any back pain.
It does not matter what osteochondrosis we are talking about - the waist, cervix or chest, attention to one's health should become a good habit, especially when it comes to the basis of the entire musculoskeletal system - the spine.