Osteochondrosis is called pathological processes in the cartilage of the intervertebral discs and near tissues. The disease can appear on any part of the spine, but the cervical spine is more prone to osteochondrosis. This is due to the anatomical features of the body. The vertebrae in the neck are smaller than those in the chest and lumbar areas and are very close to each other. In addition, the neck is characterized by increased mobility and is regularly stressed when holding the head.
Why does the disease occur?
The development of the disease is mainly associated with age-related changes. Other reasons are given:
- Lack of physical activity;
- Spinal diseases;
- excessive congestion;
- wrong posture;
- unfavorable inheritance;
- increased body weight;
- Autoimmune diseases in which the cartilage is damaged.
The condition of bone and cartilage tissue is severely affected by diet. The development of pathology is facilitated by a diet with a lack of calcium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, vitamins A and E, vitamin D. The high-risk group includes office workers, professional athletes, and people who do hard physical work.
How to identify cervical osteochondrosis
The symptoms of the disease depend on the clinical case and the stage of development. The most common signs are:
- Pain that affects not only the neck and head, but also other parts of the body;
- Weakness, decreased sensitivity of the hands, numbness of the face;
- a crunch in the neck when you have to turn your head;
- Dizziness, weakness, darkening of the eyes from pinched blood vessels;
- Deterioration in vision and hearing.
Pain in osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae bother almost all patients. In pathology, the vessels, bundles of nerve endings are pinched in the neck area. Usually the pain is felt most in the area of the head, back of the head, shoulders and radiates to the shoulder blade and chest.
Against the background of the disease, the rhythm of the heart may be disturbed. There are several arteries in the neck area that supply blood to the brain. When the blood vessels become pinched, the patient has problems such as impaired coordination of movements, arrhythmia, and ischemic heart disease. In severe cases, the obstruction of blood flow leads to strokes and other life-threatening conditions.
Stages of the disease
The progression of the disease is divided into four phases:
- In the early stages, the bone and cartilage tissue is just beginning to break down. The pathology is manifested in mild pain and fatigue, which patients associate with stress.
- In the second stage, there is a decrease in the disk, the appearance of cracks. The pain increases, facial numbness and limb sensitivity may decrease.
- In the third stage, intervertebral hernias begin to form. The process affects muscles and blood vessels. The patient is not only in pain but also dizzy.
- In the final stage, the growth of bone tissue occurs, the nerve endings become pinched. The disease is manifested in pronounced symptoms: pain, dizziness, numbness. Many patients have impaired motor activity.
If you suspect cervical osteochondrosis, the patient must consult a neurologist and undergo a diagnosis. Their job is to assess the condition of bone and cartilage tissue. Previously, X-rays were used to diagnose diseases of the spine. Now more advanced research methods are preferred:
- CT scan;
- Duplex scan of the vessels of the cervical spine.
Most often, the doctor prescribes a comprehensive diagnosis. It allows you to determine the presence and location of hernias, the speed of blood flow and the presence of obstacles to normal blood flow.
A patient diagnosed with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine needs to rethink their lifestyle, maintain regular physical activity, and eat right. To improve the condition, it is recommended to sleep on an orthopedic mattress and a comfortable pillow to relieve the spine.
In cervical osteochondrosis, the patient is shown drugs that reduce inflammation, improve blood circulation, and relieve pain. The doctor prescribes drugs for vasodilation, muscle relaxants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, drugs to improve blood circulation in the brain, chondroprotectors - means to restore cartilage tissue. To slow the breakdown of bone tissue, the body needs B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and niacin.
Physiotherapy is the main method used to treat osteochondrosis of the cervical spine. Specialists apply many procedures, the task of which is to improve metabolic processes in bone and cartilage tissues, relieve pain, relieve spasms and improve blood circulation. Here are the basic techniques:
- Shock wave therapy. . . Low-frequency sound waves affect the cartilage tissue of the cervical spine. They help restore tissue, slow down the formation of osteophytes - growth on bones that squeeze nerve endings and blood vessels. The source of low frequency waves is a special device, so the SWT course can only be taken at a medical institution.
- massage. . . This is the most common conservative therapy for cervical osteochondrosis. Massage helps improve blood circulation, relieve muscle spasms. The technique of therapeutic massage is selected depending on the stage of the disease and the clinical picture. This is a very important condition as an unprofessional massage can harm the patient and affect their well-being. It is worth giving up massage with vascular diseases, high blood pressure. During an exacerbation, the massage should be as sensitive as possible. Stroking, rubbing are allowed, that is, impact on the upper layers of tissue.
- Therapeutic gymnastics (movement therapy). . . Exercise therapy helps strengthen muscles and improve blood circulation. There are special exercises for patients with osteochondrosis. Gymnastics can be performed not only in the office of a medical institution, but also at home. As a rule, exercise therapy is most effective during the period of remission, when the patient does not experience severe pain. Wellness exercises should be combined with walks and water procedures.
- acupuncture. . . This is an auxiliary method of treating osteochondrosis, based on the action of special needles on biologically active points. This activates the metabolism, the pain syndrome decreases.
- Kinesitherapy. . . This is a hardware technique that is used to treat diseases of the spine and rehabilitation after injuries. Thanks to the exercises, the spine is relieved, its mobility is improved and blood circulation is restored. Kinesitherapy courses are conducted under the guidance of an instructor. There are many methods and devices for performing exercises, so an appropriate set of exercises is selected for each patient.
- Laser therapy. . . Laser radiation has a positive effect and the patient's well-being improves. The procedure reduces inflammation and pain and has a positive effect on metabolic processes.
- Electrotherapy. . . Specialists use devices that are a source of galvanic, pulsed alternating current. The purpose of the procedure is to relieve pain, relieve cramps, and stimulate.
- Water process. . . Water is the best medicine for osteochondrosis. Patients with this disease are shown therapeutic baths, swimming, and underwater massage. Very useful for the prevention and treatment of pathology is a regular visit to the pool.
Surgery for osteochondrosis
Spinal surgery for osteochondrosis is indicated in patients with an advanced stage of the disease who cannot achieve remission using conservative methods. The surgery is used to remove herniated discs and affected discs. Surgery is also performed to increase the diameter of the spinal canal and remove the vertebral arch. Its goal is to get rid of the compression on the nerves and spinal cord, which will help you get rid of discomfort.
All manipulations are carried out under anesthesia with the use of X-ray and microsurgical control.
The laser discectomy method is used for the protrusion of the intervertebral disc. This is a minimally invasive technique that allows you to vaporize the nucleus pulposus of the disc with a laser beam, thereby eliminating the compression.
Diet for osteochondrosis
Improper diet increases the risk of developing degenerative-dystrophic diseases of the musculoskeletal system, which include osteochondrosis. In order to slow down pathological processes in bones and cartilage, the body must be supplied with a sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals. The diet should include:
- Dairy products - a source of calcium;
- fresh vegetables and herbs;
- Legumes, nuts, seeds - a source of protein, magnesium, B vitamins;
- Cereals, baked goods with added whole grain products;
- lean meat;
- Fish and seafood;
- Olive and other vegetable oils;
- Jelly, jellied meat, jellied dishes.
There are no strict dietary restrictions, but there are foods that are undesirable to consume in large quantities. First and foremost, it is strong tea and coffee that interfere with the absorption of calcium and vitamins. Foods that are high in salt are also not helpful.