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 between the ages of 30 and 40 and about 90% of the elderly. Therefore, the earlier the disease is diagnosed, the more thoroughly the patient is examined, the greater the likelihood of stopping the progression of osteochondrosis and maintaining activity at an older age.
Definition of disease, the cause of 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 the tissues between the vertebrae and is expressed by a violation of their shape, density, elasticity and sometimes even integrity. As a result, the distance between the vertebrae is reduced, the spine gradually loses its stability, pinching of the nerves, 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 abrasion of the tissues of the intervertebral discs (cartilage), resulting in instability of the spine. In the absence of treatment, 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 of muscle load;
- Injury of the spine;
- 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 spinal osteochondrosis, features of the main types of the disease, lumbar, cervical and thoracic:
- pain localized in a specific area of the spine;
- pain syndrome of the reflective type associated with damage to neighboring musculoskeletal tissues;
- myelopathy and radiculopathy resulting from compression of nerve endings in the spinal cord and blood vessels.
Depending on which part of the spine is affected by the disease, the list of osteochondrosis symptoms can vary. To know: patients note tingling in the muscles, numbness in the limbs, other sensory disturbances, decreased strength in the arms and legs, headaches and pain in the heart, painful lower 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 nerve cell processes.
In addition, cracks appear on the deformed ring, a protrusion of the discs develops, and a hernia is formed. Typically, these spine disease-suggestive factors 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, 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 spinal 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 hernia, the formation of osteophyte bone processes.
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 area of localization. To 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 when turning the body, lifting weights. Pain can be given to the leg or both legs, characterized as pain. With acute 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 column, vertebrae 1 to 7 are affected. The disease is accompanied by headaches in the back of the head, pain in the neck, collarbones, shoulders. Cracking is possible when turning the head, numbness in the upper limbs, a feeling of lump in the throat.
With osteochondrosis of the spine in the thoracic 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 of the lumbar spine is the most common, in the thoracic region it is the rarest.
Complications of osteochondrosis
If the patient thought too late about the treatment of osteochondrosis, when the symptoms of the disease are pronounced, the following complications may develop:
- intervertebral hernia;
- stroke of the spinal cord;
- kyphosis of the spine;
- paralysis of the lower limbs.
In the absence of treatment, the patient begins to suffer from regular exacerbations of the condition, characterized by increased pain, restriction of movement, sharply worsening general well-being. The most terrible complication of spinal osteochondrosis is disability. Therefore, in order to avoid such serious changes in the work of the musculoskeletal system, high-quality and timely treatment of osteochondrosis is necessary.
Diagnosis of osteochondrosis
A disease such as osteochondrosis is mainly 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:
- History taking, which involves a conversation between a specialist and a patient to identify the exact area of localization of pain, factors that cause the condition to deteriorate. It is important to know the profession of the patient, the period when the problems with the spine began, when there was an exacerbation, what kind of pain in the lumbar regions and others occurs, what methods of treatment the patient used.
- Physiological examinationallows to determine the proportions of the body, the quality of the movements and actions carried out, 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. Used to determine the displacement of the vertebrae, the presence of osteophytes, salt deposits.
If the data collected to prescribe treatment is not sufficient or if there is a suspicion of a serious pathology of the spine, the patient is prescribed a computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, thanks to which it is possible to examine in detailvertebrae, vessels, soft tissue, nervous process and create a complete picture of the condition of the spine affected by osteochondrosis to determine the tactical treatment.
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 step in treatment, the outcome of which depends on a number of factors. In some cases it is a complete cure, in others it is a prevention of complications and disability.
In the treatment of osteochondrosis of the spine, a group of measures is used:
- change the patient's day regimen;
- prescribe medication 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 bends and sharp turns.
Drugs for the treatment of osteochondrosis of the spine
They can be divided into several groups:
- muscle relaxants for pain relief, including tablets, injectable anesthetics, and anti-inflammatory injections for osteochondrosis. Homeopathic preparation normalizes the functionality of the thyroid gland, improves lymphatic drainage, has anti-inflammatory, detoxifying and immunomodulatory effects.
- nonsteroidal 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 the cartilage, andstimulation of bone tissue repair.
- Topical anti-inflammatory ointments and alternative transdermal patches. These drugs have analgesic, antirheumatic, 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;
- B vitamins.
Of the additional funds that can be used to treat, relieve the general condition and improve the function of the spine and intervertebral discs, the most effective are indicated:
- professional massage and self-massage;
- physical education classes;
- 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 avoided. In difficult cases, doctors recommend surgical treatment.
Prevention of spinal osteochondrosis includes:
- compliance with the correct daily regimen, with a change in body position and moderate physical activity;
- regular visits to the swimming pool;
- body weight control;
- wear comfortable shoes;
- Balanced diet;
- sleeping on an orthopedic pillow and mattress;
- taking missing nutrients or preventative homeopathic medicines to increase immunity, improve overall health, and eliminate dystonia.
It is necessary to undergo annual medical examinations and see a doctor for treatment immediately after the appearance of any pain in the spine.
No matter what type 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. vertebral.