Back pain is a problem that most people don't pay proper attention to until the situation becomes critical. However, timely treatment for back pain reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases of the spine, among which osteochondrosis occupies a special place.
What is osteochondrosis?
Osteochondrosis is a disease that affects the tissues of the spine, causing deformation of the spine (a disease affecting the intervertebral discs and the spine as a whole). As a result, the spine loses its ability to absorb, the intervertebral discs become thinner and may bulge or pinch in the future, which leads to the development of complications such as herniated discs, etc.
The main danger of osteochondrosis of the spine lies in its latent course. Most often, it is diagnosed in patients already at the last stage, when severe pain due to complications does not allow them to lead a normal life.
Reasons for development
There are many theories that explain the occurrence of spinal disorders, including heredity, hormonal imbalances, and vascular problems. However, none of them give a clear explanation of why osteochondrosis of the spine occurs.
Let's highlight a number of factors that increase the likelihood of osteochondrosis:
- Spinal injuries - congenital or acquired;
- Overweight, poor metabolism;
- sedentary lifestyle;
- Age criterion;
- Flat feet, posture curvature, underdevelopment of the muscles;
- Work related to heavy loads on the back;
- incorrect distribution of the load on the spine during exercise;
- bad habits, unbalanced diet;
- the wrong choice of shoes, frequent wearing of high heels (in women);
- Environmental factors - high humidity, too low temperatures, etc.
Developmental stages of osteochondrosis
There are different stages in the development of osteochondrosis due to different symptoms and sensations. The disease progresses slowly, and the signs of this disease are formed for a long time. By determining the stage of development, doctors can create an effective treatment plan for the spine.
- Stage one.The intervertebral disc becomes compacted and the hook-shaped processes increase. During this time, patients feel uncomfortable during physical exertion or when they are in one position (sitting, standing, lying) for a long time. Treatment of osteochondrosis includes the use of decongestants, antihistamines and pain relievers, chondoprotectors.
- Stage two.The cartilage structures of the spine become unstable, the distance between the intervertebral discs decreases, the holes narrow. This development of the disease leads to pinched nerves and severe pain. According to statistics, this is the first time that patients see a doctor with ailments. Doctors prescribe treatment - manual therapy, pain relievers, physiotherapy.
- Level three.Changes in the structure of the spine and intervertebral discs are pronounced. Almost complete closure of the holes between the intervertebral discs leads to the appearance of an intervertebral hernia. It will be possible to get rid of painful sensations in osteochondrosis not only with the help of drugs, but also with surgical intervention.
- Level four.The last stage drains off the third very quickly and is the most dangerous (last). In this case, patients cannot move normally. Osteochondrosis is treated using constructive methods.
Symptoms of the disease
The main symptom of spinal osteochondrosis is pain of varying intensity and character. In addition, each type of osteochondrosis manifests itself in a number of features.
Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is characterized by:
- Headache unresponsive to treatment;
- Dizziness, weakness, fainting;
- a feeling of stiffness in the shoulder girdle;
- Pain in the neck, arms;
- Visual and hearing impairments are possible.
- Pain in the chest and shoulder blades that worsen significantly after physical exertion, hypothermia, and during sleep;
- Shortness of breath (chest pain when breathing in and out);
- frequent "chills" on the skin, poor blood circulation leads to frequent freezing of the limbs.
- aching lower back pain, worsened after exertion;
- periodic acute outbreaks of pain radiating to the legs and pelvic region;
- limited mobility of the trunk;
- decreased sensitivity of the lower extremities (in the latter stages).
Any of the symptoms listed should be a reason to see a doctor. The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the easier and more effective treatment will be.
Before learning about the inherent disease of the spine, it is necessary to see a doctor for an exam. Note that early osteochondrosis can be confused with other diseases. This is why a full examination of the spine is so important.
The diagnosis begins with the recording of the anamnesis - the examination of patient complaints and the familiarization with the medical history. Next, a physiological examination is carried out:
- a painful area of the spine can be felt;
- assess the patient's gait, the position of his body;
- the amount of movement is determined;
- a visual examination of the skin is carried out - the presence of peeling, redness, rashes;
- The sensitivity of the spine to pain is checked.
- The zones of pain localization are determined.
The patient is necessarily sent for a spinal x-ray. The examination of the spine by means of computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) is also used in practice. Images from these devices help not only examine the intervertebral discs and their position, but also determine the height of the intervertebral disc, compression of the nerve endings, and marginal growth.
Which doctor should I go to?
If you have been diagnosed or suspected of having osteochondrosis of the back, you will need to make an appointment with a neurologist and chiropractor.
Timely diagnosis of the disease with osteochondrosis of the spine is key to successful treatment. Osteochondrosis can be diagnosed through a thorough medical examination. After consulting your doctor, you will be examined and then referred for a CT or MRI scan. The specialist determines the localization of pain in the spine and prescribes a method of treatment.
Surgical treatment of osteochondrosis is warranted in the latter stages of the disease, when complications (hernias) need to be treated or when there is a threat to the bone marrow. In other cases, conservative treatment is recommended, including:
- Physiotherapy (magnet and laser treatment, vibration massagers, spinal traction);
- Physical therapy exercises;
- manual therapy.
Exercise therapy, exercise and gymnastics
Moderate and correct physical activity with osteochondrosis of the spine makes the body more resilient. All exercises are specifically designed to strengthen the muscles of the spine for more effective treatment.
Elastic and reinforced ligaments do not allow the vertebrae to move during daily movements. Physical activity also normalizes the metabolism, which has a positive effect on the regeneration of cartilage tissue. Doctors recommend exercise and exercise therapy to treat patients with a diagnosis such as osteochondrosis.
The use of drugs in osteochondrosis can be of different nature. Depending on the stages, the type of osteochondrosis of the spine and the nature of its symptoms during treatment, doctors may prescribe various drugs:
- Analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs for pain relief;
- antispasmodics for relieving muscle spasms;
- Preparations to restore the structure of the cartilage;
- Means to improve blood circulation and normalize blood vessels;
The appropriate direction of treatment is determined by the attending physician and provides a systematic and comprehensive approach. It is extremely dangerous to self-medicate, to rely on acupuncture, questionable massage therapists, and chiropractors who do not have the right qualifications. This in no way speeds up the healing process and can also lead to serious consequences that are very difficult to fix.
To avoid this, it is enough to think about the prevention of osteochondrosis in a timely manner. Regular exercise, swimming, running. Rethinking your diet - by reducing your salt intake and eating foods high in protein, vitamins, and minerals - will also greatly reduce your risk of osteochondrosis.
Ointments are used in the complex treatment of osteochondrosis. They are combined with other medicines. They are effective for local treatment and pain relief. Specialists prescribe warming, anti-inflammatory and analgesic ointments, chondroprotective agents that help restore damaged cartilage tissue.
Doctors prescribe injections to quickly relieve compression syndrome (pinched nerve) pain. In this case, the patient cannot even move normally without relieving the pain. Injections are prescribed during a relapse, when treatment with ointments and tablets becomes ineffective. With this manipulation, the necessary nutrients are quickly delivered to the affected area and contribute to an effective treatment.
Diet is part of the therapy that makes it easier and faster to deal with osteochondrosis. The diet does not require strict restrictions, but the patient needs to revise the menu. It is recommended to give up harmful, too salty and fatty foods. It is better to eat often and in small portions (5-6 times a day). Products for treatment should be saturated with:
- magnesium- Avocado, seaweed, cucumber, bananas, dried apricots, beans, oatmeal;
- calcium- eggs, seeds, nuts, dairy products, beets;
- phosphorus- broccoli, cabbage, hard cheese, cottage cheese, figs, dates, seafood, fish;
- Vitamin B.- red meat, milk, seafood;
- Vitamin A.- potatoes, carrots, apricots, peaches, tomatoes, green peas;
- Vitamin D- sea fish, hard cheese, eggs, beans, butter;
- vitamin C- Citrus fruits, sauerkraut, rose hips, viburnum, sea buckthorn, black currant, paprika.
Doctors will prescribe surgery for osteochondrosis when conservative treatment is not effective. Indications for an operation can be:
- Loss of tenderness of the leg muscles or their progressive weakness;
- large spinal hernia;
- a sharp narrowing and bruising of the spinal canal;
- Situations where cervical osteochondrosis puts you at risk of developing a stroke;
- the presence of a risk of paralysis of the feet.
Acupuncture is prescribed for dangerous intervertebral muscle pain. By acting on acupuncture points, the doctor relieves tension and clamps, edema and improves microcirculation in the blood.
Osteochondrosis of the spine doesn't just cause pain and discomfort. It also has a number of negative complications, the most common of which are:
- Hearing problems;
- Migraines and frequent headaches;
- Deterioration in eyesight;
- Dysfunction of the genitourinary system;
- the development of an intervertebral hernia.
Is it possible to fully recover?
With effective treatment of spinal osteochondrosis, it is possible to avoid the progression of the disease and its relapses, relieve tension, strengthen muscles and normalize metabolic processes.
Taking care of your health first can help you avoid the questions, "What is osteochondrosis? What are their causes, symptoms and methods of treatment? "
Effective preventive methods of treating osteochondrosis of the spine include:
- correct organization of the workplace - comfortable orthopedic chair, adequate lighting, acceptable table height;
- The place to sleep should be as comfortable as possible - an orthopedic mattress, a pillow;
- It is worth checking your posture in front of the computer and walking (not hanging around).
- balanced and healthy diet;
- systematic physical activity - jogging, sports, gymnastics, swimming;
- Massage procedure for the spine.