Osteochondrosis is included in the category of common disorders. In 75% of cases, it is he who causes unpleasant back pain. Today, one in two people after twenty years has manifestations of pathology. With age, the risk of developing the disease increases. If you do not start treatment immediately, osteochondrosis can lead to negative health consequences.
What is spinal osteochondrosis?
This process affects the articular cartilage and nearby bones. Initially, osteochondrosis affects only the discs that hold the vertebrae together. Then the dystrophic process affects the ligaments and vertebrae, violates the integrity of the joints.
The insidious thing about the pathology is that the cartilage of the discs is not subject to regeneration. Therefore, the area of the spine affected by the disease will inexorably collapse. When an ailment appears, it is possible to stop its development, but it is impossible to completely eliminate it.
This pathology is not associated with inflammation, it is based on malnutrition of tissues and degeneration of their structure. In the absence of loads, the tissues lose strength because they do not receive the necessary amount of nutrients.
The development of the disease leads to the fact that the gelatinous core dries up and partially loses its cushioning characteristics. The fibrous ring becomes thinner, microcracks form in it.
As a result, a bulge is produced, called disc protrusion. As the disease progresses, a rupture of the annulus may occur, and an intervertebral hernia is then diagnosed.
This area loses stability, osteophytes can form in it, the integrity of the ligaments and joints is disturbed. To compensate for disc deformation, bone and fibrous tissue grow. In this state, the column of the column becomes less mobile.
Usually the disease has periods of remission, which are later replaced by relapses.
Degrees and stages
There are several degrees of the disease, each of which has the following characteristics:
- 1 degree. Due to imprecise movement, a rupture of the disk occurs. This condition can also be triggered by stress. There is often severe pain and a sensation resembling an electric shock.
- 2nd grade. Spinal stability is lost and bulges develop. There may be pain that increases with imprecise movements. This form of the disease is characterized by numbness of the fingers, headaches, temporary discomfort in the sacrum.
- 3rd grade. This condition has manifestations of hernia, headaches, discomfort in the area of the affected nerve. In addition, hands and feet often go numb, vision and hearing deteriorate, problems with the functioning of many organs appear.
- 4th grade.At this stage, the symptoms of a hernia disappear, and the manifestations of the disease subside. The spine loses stability and this condition is characterized by slipping or twisting of the vertebrae. The vertebrae can grow, which causes compression of the nerves, as a result of which the spinal canal atrophies and the spinal cord is compressed. The fourth degree is distinguished by the consequences that may occur after removal of a hernia, including paresis, inflammation, etc.
It is also usual to distinguish a series of stages:
- So,first stage- in fact, a consequence of lack of moisture and loss of elastic properties. The disease is characterized by a displacement of the nucleus within the disc, which leads to an alteration in the shape of the annulus fibrosus. However, the process itself remains inside the intervertebral disc, not going beyond it.
- Forsecondthe formation of cracks in the ring is characteristic. As the height of the flattened disc decreases, spinal stability is lost.
- third stagecharacterized by the appearance of gaps at the site of cracks and the onset of inflammation. Part of the liquid core seeps through the microcracks. Nerves or blood vessels are often compressed at the site of the rupture.
- fourth stageaccompanied by dystrophic processes. The vertebral sections do not offer the necessary resistance, because the adjacent vertebral bodies approach each other. There can also be complications. This may be the development of spondyloarthrosis and spondylosis. At this stage, flattening of the vertebra is observed; this occurs to remove the load from the disk. Sometimes the fibrous tissue is replaced by bone. This stage is marked by a temporary decrease in pain. However, later the discomfort increases due to compression of the nerves and narrowing of the spinal canal.
Causes of the disease
This disease can be found in both the elderly and the young. Usually signs of osteochondrosis appear around the age of thirty-five. The development and recurrence of the disease lead to overload, back injuries, vibrations. As the body ages, more and more symptoms occur. The exact causes of the disease have not yet been established.
The most popular is the opinion that the process is the result of an incorrect distribution of the load on the spine due to weak muscles and ligaments. This theory is also proven by popular methods of therapy, which are based on training of the muscular apparatus and ligaments.
Factors that can cause an abnormal process in the spine include:
- posture violation;
- metabolic disorders;
- poor physical shape;
- heavy loads;
- hormonal imbalance;
- irrational nutrition;
- poor environmental conditions;
- systematic vibratory influence;
- age-related changes;
- passive lifestyle;
- of smoking;
- spinal abnormalities.
Even if a person leads a normal lifestyle, he is at risk of osteochondrosis due to the deficiency of the necessary substances. In modern society, this problem is considered one of the keys. The condition is aggravated due to an inactive lifestyle.
Types and symptoms
Depending on the affected area, there is cervical, thoracic or lumbar osteochondrosis. If several departments are involved in the pathological process at once, we can talk about a common way.
Since the lower back usually bears the greatest load, lumbar osteochondrosis predominates among all cases of the disease; its prevalence is approximately 50%.
Second is the cervical region. This form of osteochondrosis is diagnosed in a quarter of cases. Such a disease is most often the result of a long session in front of the computer or monotonous work.
Thoracic osteochondrosis is extremely rare and is usually associated with limited movement.
General signs of the disease.
Pathology has different signs that directly depend on the location of the process:
- Pain in the spine. Sometimes osteochondrosis causes minor pains of an aching or pulling nature. In addition, the disease can cause sharp and excruciating pain; they are difficult to eliminate with non-narcotic analgesics.
- Vision or hearing problems.
- Headache. Often the disease causes a feeling of weakness, dizziness and fatigue.
- Loss of sensitivity. This symptom is usually manifested by numbness in the arms or legs.
- Problems in the functioning of the pelvic organs and sexual dysfunctions.
- Loss of mobility in the problem area.
- Problems with the organs whose functioning the spinal cord is responsible for.
- Pain in arms and legs.
- Muscle relaxation.
How is cervical osteochondrosis manifested?
- systematic headaches;
- hearing loss;
- pressure spikes;
- Voice change;
- decreased vision;
- tooth decay.
- high fatigue of the muscle tissue of the back;
- back and chest pain;
- problems with various organs.
Manifestations of osteochondrosis of the lumbar area:
- lower back pain;
- leg numbness;
- decrease in skin temperature;
- violation of urination;
- muscle tension;
- stool problems;
- varicose veins;
- loss of activity.
Osteochondrosis often leads to complications, so this disease cannot be ignored. The consequences of the disease include:
- Lumbago - severe back pain.
- Intervertebral hernia.
- Migraine attacks.
- Sciatica is a pathology of the sciatic nerve that causes pain in the legs and buttocks.
- Narrowing of the spinal canal.
- Vegetative-vascular dystonia.
- Schmorl's hernia is a bulge of the disc into the spinal cavity.
The most dangerous complication of osteochondrosis is considered to be compression of the arteries supplying the brain. These stems supply blood to the brain. Due to nutritional deficiencies, more serious pathologies can develop.
Diagnosis is based on clinical history and examination. It also requires an evaluation of the neurological status. Additional tests include:
- Magnetic resonance imaging;
- ultrasonic dopplerography;
- computed tomography
Thanks to these studies, it is possible to determine the level of violations, clarify the diagnosis and reveal hidden processes. This allows you to choose an effective treatment and achieve good results.
At an early stage, conservative therapy will be the best option. The doctor prescribes medication. Therapeutic exercises can also be used. Manual therapy and reflexology very useful.
Among medications, non-narcotic pain relievers and sedatives are considered the most effective. You also need to take vitamin B preparations. Usually, this treatment is used during a relapse of the disease to eliminate pain and inflammation.
Reflexology is the use of methods such as paraffin baths, laser therapy, acupuncture, electrical stimulation, ultrasound. No less useful mud baths and iodine therapy.
Physiotherapy exercises aim to strengthen the muscular system and free the nerve endings. In difficult cases, it is impossible to do without surgical intervention. If conservative treatment is not effective, the hernia should be removed. This can be achieved by classical or microsurgical methods.
Osteochondrosis is a dangerous disease that causes pain and leads to loss of motor activity.
To stop the development of complications, at the slightest discomfort in the spinal region, you should consult a doctor. Only a specialist will be able to make a correct diagnosis and choose a therapy.