Most cases of unpleasant 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 thoroughly the patient is examined, the higher the likelihood of stopping the progression of osteochondrosis and maintaining activity at an older age.
Definition of 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 affects the spine and tissues between the vertebrae and is expressed in a violation of their shape, density, elasticity, and sometimes even integrity. As a result, the distance between the vertebrae is reduced, the spinal column gradually loses its stability, pinching of the nerves, the formation of hernias can develop, which is accompanied by back pain and discomfort during movement.
If we describe the essence of osteochondrosis briefly, then this is a gradual abrasion of the tissues of the intervertebral discs (cartilage), leading to instability of the spine. If untreated, degradation of ligaments and joints develops, osteophytes appear, posture is disturbed, movements are accompanied by pain.
Causes of osteochondrosis of the spine:
- an inactive lifestyle with a deficit in muscle load;
- spinal injury;
- systematic intense stress on the spine;
- hormonal and autoimmune diseases;
- toxic poisoning;
- congenital connective tissue failure;
- psychosomatic reasons (stress, depression, etc. ).
Symptoms of osteochondrosis
The disease is characterized by periods of remission and exacerbation with varying degrees of severity of symptoms. The main symptoms of osteochondrosis of the spine, characteristic of the main types of the disease, lumbar, cervical and thoracic:
- pain localized in a specific area of the spine;
- pain syndrome of the reflected type associated with damage to nearby musculoskeletal tissues;
- 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 vary. Namely: patients note tingling in the muscles, numbness in the limbs, other sensory disorders, decreased strength in the arms and legs, headaches and pain in the heart, aching low back pain.
The pathogenesis of osteochondrosis
Before the elastic fibrous core of the intervertebral disc begins to lose elasticity and deform, a number of processes involving osteochondrosis take place in the human body:
- spasms, dystonia, inflammation;
- decreased blood circulation;
- damage to the processes of nerve cells.
Further, cracks appear on the deformed annulus, protrusion of the discs develops, and a hernia is formed. 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, acquiring a flattened shape, loses moisture, elasticity, can 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 ruptures of the intervertebral cartilage, the development of a hernia, the formation of bone processes of osteophytes.
The symptoms of the development of 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 main of which is the localization zone. Distinguish:
- lumbar osteochondrosis;
- osteochondrosis of the cervical spine;
- osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine.
Osteochondrosis in the lumbar spine is manifested by pain in the lumbar region, which increases with turning the body, lifting weights. The pain can be given to the leg or both legs, characterized as aching. With a sharp syndrome, a hernia is suspected. With lumbar osteochondrosis, spasms in the muscles of the legs, peeling of the skin often occur.
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, collarbones, shoulders. A crunch 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 thoracic region, the patient is worried 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 the most common, in the thoracic it is the rarest.
Complications of osteochondrosis
If the patient thought about the treatment of osteochondrosis too late, when the symptoms of the disease are pronounced, the following complications may develop:
- intervertebral hernia;
- spinal cord stroke;
- kyphosis of the spine;
- paralysis of the lower extremities.
In the absence of treatment, the patient begins to suffer from regular exacerbations of the condition, which are characterized by increased pain, restraining movement, sharply worsening the general well-being. The most terrible complication of spinal osteochondrosis is disability. Therefore, in order 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 primarily pain in the spine. But it is important to distinguish it from pain caused by problems other than degeneration of the intervertebral discs. To do this, doctors carry out a step-by-step diagnosis, which includes:
- Taking anamnesis, which implies a conversation between a specialist and a patient to identify the exact area of pain localization, factors that provoke a deterioration in the condition. It is important to know the patient's occupation, the period when the problems with the spine began, when there was an exacerbation, what kind of pain in the lumbar and other regions occurs, what methods of treatment the patient used.
- Physiological examinationallows you to determine the proportions of the body, the quality of the movements and actions performed, the condition of the skin, the degree of pain sensitivity. The doctor, by palpation, determines the condition of the 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, salt deposition.
If the collected data for the appointment of treatment is not enough, or there are suspicions 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 state of the spine affected by osteochondrosis to determine tacticstreatment.
Treatment of osteochondrosis
Like any disease, osteochondrosis requires identifying the cause that triggered its development. Reducing the severity of symptoms is not the main, 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 prevention of complications and disability.
In the treatment of osteochondrosis of the spine, a group of measures is used:
- changing the patient's day regimen;
- prescribing drugs to reduce symptoms;
- physiotherapy procedures (massage, acupuncture, electrophoresis, exercise therapy, etc. ).
Changing the daily regimen in the treatment of osteochondrosis of the spine involves a decrease in the intensity of physical activity, bed rest with severe pain, the exclusion of sharp turns and bends.
Drugs 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. The 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.
- anti-inflammatory topical ointments and alternative transdermal patches. Such drugs have analgesic, antirheumatic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory effects. The mechanism of work is to reduce the production of inflammatory mediators, reduce body temperature and pain.
- remedies for therapeutic analgesic blockades;
- B vitamins.
Of the additional funds that can be used to treat, alleviate the general condition and improve the function of the spine and intervertebral discs, the most effective are shown:
- professional massage and self-massage;
- physical education courses;
- manual therapy.
If the disease of the spine is not neglected, proceeds without serious complications, in 1. 5-2 months of competent treatment, the condition can be significantly improved, and the transition of the disease to a chronic form can be prevented. In difficult cases, doctors recommend surgical treatment.
Prevention of osteochondrosis of the spine includes:
- adherence to the correct daily regimen, with a change in body position and moderate physical activity;
- regular visits to the pool;
- control of body weight;
- wearing comfortable shoes;
- balanced diet;
- sleeping on an orthopedic pillow and mattress;
- taking missing nutrients or preventive homeopathic medicines to increase immunity, improve overall health, and eliminate dystonia.
It is necessary to undergo medical examinations annually and consult a doctor for treatment immediately after the appearance of any pain in the spine.
It doesn't matter what kind of osteochondrosis we are talking about - lumbar, cervical or thoracic, attention to one's own health should become a good habit, especially when it comes to the basis of the entire musculoskeletal system - the spine.