Cervical osteochondrosis is a degenerative-dystrophic disease that affects the intervertebral discs of the cervical spine. Degenerative changes usually develop in the most mobile parts of the spine, therefore, in the neck area, due to injuries to the vertebral structure, nerve roots at the level of C5, C6 and C7 most often suffer.
Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis
One of the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis is a compressive, oppressive headache that often radiates to the temples.
Clinical manifestations of cervical osteochondrosis are divided into reflex and radicular.
Patients worry about what is known as lumbago - a sharp, stabbing pain that occurs in the cervical spine and is aggravated by movement. Perhaps the appearance of a crunch when turning the head, sometimes patients take a forced position of the head due to severe pain.
People with cervical osteochondrosis often complain of pressing or constricting headaches that can reach the temples and eyeballs. Sometimes visual acuity can decrease, patients say that everything is floating in front of their eyes.
When the nerve plexus of the vertebral artery is irritated, vertebral artery syndrome can occur, which is often misdiagnosed as a violation of cerebral blood flow that causes the patient to develop dizziness. They can appear with a sharp head movement, accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
One of the reflex syndromes in the Clinic for Cervical Osteochondrosis is cardiac, in which the patient experiences sensations similar to an attack of angina pectoris. Usually this phenomenon is combined with other signs of the disease, so it rarely causes difficulties in differential diagnosis with heart disease.
Radicular syndromes result from compression of the spinal root. Motor and sensory disorders that occur in this case depend on which nerve root is affected:
- C1 - violation of sensitivity in the back of the head;
- C2 - pain in the back of the head and crown of the head;
- C3 - decreased sensitivity and pain in the half of the neck where the spinal nerve was injured, possibly a violation of the sensitivity of the tongue, impaired speech due to loss of control of the tongue;
- C4 - sensory disturbances and pain in the shoulder and shoulder area, decreased tone of the head and neck muscles, possible breathing disorders, liver and heart pain;
- C5 - pain and impaired tenderness in the outer surface of the shoulder;
- C6 - pain extending from the neck to the shoulder blade, forearm, outer surface of the shoulder, radial surface of the forearm to the thumb;
- C7 - Pain that extends from the neck to the shoulder blade, the back of the shoulder, the forearm to the fingers II-IV of the hand, impaired sensitivity in this area.
- C8 - Pain and sensory disturbances spread from the neck to the shoulder, from the forearm to the little finger.
Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis
Cervical osteochondrosis is a complex disease that requires long-term, systematic and gradual treatment. Therapy is aimed at eliminating pain and fighting the inflammatory process in the affected area.
Painkillers are prescribed to patients. Recently, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which are effective in eliminating pain syndrome and helping to reduce the activity of the inflammatory process, are becoming increasingly popular in the treatment of degenerative-dystrophic diseases of the spine.
In the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis, the appointment of chondroprotectors is indicated - drugs that slow down the destruction of cartilage tissue. Many doctors believe that taking these drugs also promotes the regeneration of cartilage tissue.
The use of external ointments and gels that contain irritants or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is ineffective. Due to the barrier of the skin, subcutaneous tissue and muscles, the active ingredient, which is part of their composition, is unlikely to reach the affected area. Nevertheless, it makes sense to use these external means, since a neck massage is carried out when rubbing into the skin.
To improve the regeneration and metabolic processes in the affected nerve root, vitamins of group B are prescribed to patients. Very often, doctors recommend that patients take a combined vitamin preparation that is administered intramuscularly.
Non-drug methods of treating cervical osteochondrosis include acupuncture, hirudotherapy, physical therapy, exercise therapy, massage, manual therapy.
Surgical treatment may be required in severe cases.
Daily gymnastics for the cervical spine is a good prevention against osteochondrosis.
Preventing the development of cervical osteochondrosis is not difficult. It is recommended to lead an active lifestyle, exercise, or at least do morning exercise.
Proper organization of the workplace, as well as the way you work and rest, play an important role in preventing the disease. Sedentary people have to warm up several times during the working day and monitor their posture and head position during work.
It's also important to choose a good, comfortable mattress and pillow to sleep on. People with spinal disorders are advised to use special orthopedic products.
Which doctor should you contact?
Patients with osteochondrosis of the spine are monitored by a neurologist. There are a variety of doctors of other specialties who help patients with this disease: specialists in physical therapy exercises and massage, osteopaths, manual and reflex therapists, physical therapists, and others.