Osteochondrosis of the spine is a chronic disease, which is based on the process of degeneration of bone and cartilage tissue. All parts of the spine are affected by the pathological process.
Description of the disease
The disease is more common in the elderly, but recently there has been an increase in the number of young patients showing signs of the disease. Depending on the location of the spinal injury, it is usually classified as cervical, thoracic and lumbar osteochondrosis. The main and characteristic sign of osteochondrosis of the back is a dull pain of moderate intensity, due to compression of the spinal cord roots.
Pathogenesis and stages
The development of the disease is usually divided into several stages. The process begins with an asymptomatic course, when initial changes occur in the cartilaginous tissue, and ends with the complete fusion of several vertebrae with each other.
The first stage is the most difficult to diagnose, due to the mild signs of the disease, it is also called preclinical. Patients have general weakness, back discomfort. These signs are often confused with fatigue. In medical practice, 1st degree osteochondrosis can only be diagnosed by chance, for example during a preventive examination.
During 2nd degree osteochondrosis, the patient feels pain in the spine. This step is a consequence of the first one in the absence of the necessary preventive measures. There is an initial process of destruction of the intervertebral disc. The fixation of the vertebrae is broken, the distance between them decreases, which leads to compression of the nerve fibers of the spine.
Based on the patient's complaints, physical examination and radiography, the doctor diagnoses "2nd degree osteochondrosis of the cervical region" and prescribes treatment. Subject to the implementation of all the recommendations of a specialist, the disease can be treated without serious consequences.
The third stage is characterized by the initiation of irreversible processes in the cartilaginous tissues of the fibrous ring. The nucleus pulposus is dehydrated, resulting in a herniated disc. Pain occurs as a result of compression of spinal nerves. At this stage, the destroyed intervertebral disc cannot be restored. The hernia is eliminated by the surgical method, treatment is carried out with the help of drugs.
In this phase, the body adapts to the resulting changes in the spine. Compensatory bone tissue grows along the edges of the vertebrae (osteophytes) to strengthen the affected section. They can compress the spinal cord roots, causing pain. As a result, osteophytes grow together, causing complete immobility of a particular segment of the spine.
Symptoms and varieties
Osteochondrosis is a chronic disease. The alternation of periods of disease exacerbation and remission is especially characteristic of him. The symptoms of the disease are quite typical. They are manifested by painful back pain, with sudden movements and weight lifting, the pain intensifies, there may be a feeling of numbness in the limbs, tiredness with little physical effort and depression.
Constant pain leads to excessive nervousness and body fatigue. In chronic osteochondrosis, when the vertebral discs compress the nerve fibers, the pain syndrome can take on a shooting character and radiate to the back of the head, shoulders, and lower extremities.
This is one of the most common and dangerous locations of the disease, as there are a large number of nerve fibers and major major vessels in the cervical region.
With cervical osteochondrosis, symptoms may be as follows:
- intense headache;
- pains radiate to the shoulder and limbs, shoot up in the head;
- there is restriction of neck movements;
- dizziness and loss of consciousness;
- noise in the ears;
- impaired coordination of movements.
These symptoms are caused by impaired blood circulation in the cervical arteries due to inflammation, swelling, muscle spasm. With the onset of vertebral artery compression syndrome and lack of proper medical treatment, it leads to cerebral ischemia.
Osteochondrosis of the thoracic region is quite rare. The signs of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine manifest in the form of pain and a burning sensation between the shoulder blades. In case of compression of intercostal nerve endings, this leads to intercostal neuralgia. It is expressed in sensations of sharp pain in the chest, which does not allow you to take a deep breath.
Violation of blood circulation and lack of nutrients due to the inflammatory process can cause diseases of Organs internal organs located in this area, various heart pathologies. Qualified treatment in this case is essential.
More than 50% of cases occur in this department. The early signs of lumbar osteochondrosis are a characteristic pain in the lower back, which increases with sudden movements, heavy lifting, and even when the weather changes. Symptoms such as varicose veins, numbness of the extremities, joint pain are not excluded.
The appearance of osteophytes in the later stages of the disease often leads to inflammation of the sciatic nerve - sciatica, one of the possible complications. Lumbar radiculitis also refers to the complications of osteochondrosis. It manifests as pain in the buttocks, spreading through the thigh and lower leg, reaching the feet.
Causes and prevention
As a rule, the disease often causes several causes at the same time, so it is also considered multifactorial. The main reasons for the development of osteochondrosis are:
- back injuries and bruises;
- accumulation diseases and metabolic disorders;
- sedentary lifestyle and overweight;
- congenital and acquired postural disorders;
Preventing osteochondrosis comes down to simple but effective methods. It is necessary to change the lifestyle to a more active one (swimming), do not forget to do back gymnastics during long-term immobile work. You must start eating right, including in your diet as many fruits and vegetables, dairy products as possible.
Effective prevention will also be to seek timely medical help when the first symptoms of the disease occur.
The treatment of osteochondrosis of the spine must be complex. The main directions of treatment of the disease are:
- drug therapy (NSAIDs, analgesics, chondroprotectors, vitamins);
- physical therapy (electrophoresis, UHF);
- exercise therapy;
- gymnastics (can be performed at home);
- surgical treatment (discectomy).