Headache with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine- -one of the first signs that may indicate the development of the disease. At first they appear paroxysmal, then they are permanent, accompanied by a sharp deterioration in well-being, stiffness of movements and fainting. It is important to understand that without appropriate therapy, the disease can progress and have dangerous consequences.
Osteochondrosis - definition and mechanism of development
Osteochondrosis- chronically progressive disease of the spine. During the examination, there is a gradual destruction of the cartilage and deformation of the bone segments. The cervical spine is made up of six vertebrae - bone segments that are connected by ligaments. Intervertebral cartilages are located between adjacent vertebrae to absorb shock during movement, rotation and tilting of the head. Vertebral arteries and nerves pass through special holes aimed at the brain, and protecting them from damage is one of the functions of the cervical spine.
In osteochondrosis, the cartilage tissue of the intervertebral discs loses its elasticity. The main reason is the insufficient supply of blood and nutrients to the cartilage tissue of the intervertebral discs. This process can be associated with age-related changes, insufficient blood supply to the cartilage, as well as the consequences of injuries and inflammatory diseases of the joints. The intervertebral discs become thin and not elastic enough that they cannot absorb while moving. This leads to a decrease in neck mobility, painful sensations, compression of the nerves and blood vessels that run in this area. The process continues as the cervical spine is most flexible and has a weak muscular corset.
Causes of headache in osteochondrosis of the cervical spine
Cervical osteochondrosis- a common disease in both the elderly and young. It is associated with restricted mobility of the neck in all or in a certain direction, impairment of hearing or vision, and acute headaches. These symptoms appear in the early stages of the disease and only progress over time.
Headache in cervical osteochondrosis is associated with a number of pathological changes:
- a decrease in the lumen between adjacent vertebrae of the cervical spine;
- Compression of nerves and blood vessels going to the brain;
- insufficient blood supply to brain cells;
- Deformation of bone tissue, formation of growths, fusion of the vertebrae - the body's mechanism of adaptation to bone abrasion during movement.
Headache with osteochondrosis can occur only with damage to the cervical spine. Arteries and nerves that transport blood to the brain and are involved in its innervation run in this area. With the defeat of the chest and lumbar regions, there is no headache. However, the disease is most often diagnosed in this area because it is the most mobile and the supportive muscle corset is poorly developed. Poor posture, prolonged sitting, insufficient physical activity or, conversely, excessive stress without a sufficient warm-up phase contribute to the rapid development of osteochondrosis at any age.
The type of pain caused by osteochondrosis
Headache with osteochondrosis is a symptom by which the disease can be identified even without damage to the neck. However, it is impossible to make a definitive diagnosis based on the examination alone. There are several different options for headache with osteochondrosis, depending on the cause of its occurrence:
- when squeezing the vertebral artery - the pain resembles a migraine, often extends only to half of the head;
- when pinching the roots of the spinal nerves - pulsating, acute, increasing during turns and tilts of the head;
- chronic headache - associated with ischemia, and lack of oxygen and nutrients in certain areas of the brain.
With osteochondrosis, headaches are often accompanied by additional symptoms. The main ones are stiffness in the neck, muscle cramps and discomfort. In addition, the patient may experience numbness in the hands and tingling sensation on the skin of the palms of the hands. When there is insufficient blood supply to the brain, hearing and vision deteriorate and difficulties arise in coordinating movements. There is also an increased sensitivity to bright light and loud sounds, as well as tactile stimuli. These signs will go away once blood flow is restored.
Headache with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is a symptom for which it is difficult to make an accurate diagnosis. To begin treatment, it is necessary to determine the location of the problem area, the stage of the disease and the pathological changes caused by the disease. A number of tests are required for this, including:
- Head MRI is one of the most informative and accurate diagnostic methods that can be used to assess the condition of brain tissues.
- MRI of the cervical spine is a simple way to get an accurate picture of all disorders occurring in this area (thinning and reduced elasticity of the articular cartilage, overgrowth of the articular surfaces of the bones;
- Doppler sonography of the vessels of the neck and head is performed with the addition of a contrast agent to monitor cerebral blood flow and identify areas of the brain that are suffering from ischemia.
Treatment of headache with cervical osteochondrosis
Treatment of headache in cervical osteochondrosis is symptomatic. Seizures can be treated at home, but they will continue to manifest. It is important to understand that osteochondrosis is a chronic, progressive disease and it is impossible to fully restore the structure of the affected spine. The aim of therapy is to slow down the further destruction of the vertebrae, restore normal blood supply and innervation, and eliminate pain and other unpleasant symptoms.
Most patients are prescribed a comprehensive treatment regimen for osteochondrosis. Pain medication can be taken at home, but the headache will come back. It is important to find an effective range of medicines that will affect not only the symptoms but also the causes of the headache. Timely start of treatment will keep the spine at the same level and prevent further deterioration in well-being.
Doctors can prescribe several types of medication to relieve headache associated with cervical osteochondrosis:
- non-hormonal anti-inflammatory drugs - eliminate pain and relieve inflammation in the joints (ibuprofen);
- Muscle relaxants - a group of drugs that relieve muscle spasms and thereby improve blood flow to the vertebral artery (tolperisone hydrochloride);
- Vasodilators - necessary for high blood pressure, as well as to eliminate vascular spasms (magnesium sulfate);
- Nootropics are an additional category of drugs that are selected to improve blood flow to brain cells.
When osteochondrosis injures the head and neck, drugs can be prescribed both in the form of tablets or injections, and in the form of an ointment. To improve blood circulation and cartilage nutrition, gels with a warming component and anti-inflammatory effect are useful. They stimulate blood circulation and regeneration processes and therefore maintain the state of the spine during periods of exacerbation of the disease.
Treatment of headache for osteochondrosis involves a number of techniques that strengthen the cervical spine and prevent compression of key nerves and arteries. They are special exercises to form a muscle corset, as well as physical and other methods of influencing the affected area. They are prescribed in combination with drug therapy and carried out in several sessions.
- Physiotherapy exercises - simple exercises to strengthen muscles and ligaments, increase their elasticity. Warming up consists of twists and turns, circular movements of the head. Next, you should alternately place your palm on your forehead, temple, and the back of your head. The head is tilted to the side of the hand and the palm is resisting. At home, you can do exercise mornings and evenings and teach the sport for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day.
- Massage is an effective technique that helps with severe headache associated with osteochondrosis and prevents the disease from progressing. At home, you can do a self-massage, which involves kneading the muscles of the back and sides of the neck, as well as the trapezius muscles. It is useful to take part in therapeutic massages, which are carried out in 5-10 procedures. The course is repeated every 4–5 months.
- Physiotherapy is a series of techniques that a doctor can prescribe to improve the well-being of patients with cervical osteochondrosis. These can be magnetotherapy, electrophoresis, paraffin applications, and other exposure methods. Under external influence, the blood flows faster into the damaged area, the nutrition of the damaged intervertebral discs and their oxygen supply are improved. In addition, recovery processes are activated at the cellular level, which means that the disease does not develop any further.
Regular exercise, massage, and physical therapy will help get rid of severe headaches associated with osteochondrosis. The main condition is to complete the entire flow of procedures. They are carried out at intervals of several days up to a week. Up to 10 sessions may be required for maximum effect. In the course of treatment, slight movement, the absence of headaches and other symptoms, an improvement in concentration and performance are noted. However, it is important to remember that osteochondrosis is a chronic disease. Therefore, the course of the procedures is repeated every 4 to 6 months.
Surgical treatment of osteochondrosis
The operation is prescribed only in cases when conservative treatment is ineffective. This occurs in advanced cases, when the patient has a fusion of adjacent vertebrae or the formation of osteophytes - bone growth on the articular surfaces of the bones. These changes lead to constant headaches, stiffness of the neck, and chronic ischemia of some parts of the brain. The operation can be carried out in several ways:
- Removal of pathological growths on the surfaces of the vertebrae that do not allow them to participate in movements;
- Joining adjacent vertebrae to reduce compression on nerves and blood vessels;
- Replacement of the damaged segment with an implant.
The decision about surgical intervention is made on an individual basis. It is understood that this is a complex operation that requires a long recovery period. In the early stages, it is not done, as there is no danger to the patient's health.
Symptoms and treatment of headache in cervical osteochondrosis are associated with the mechanism of the development of this disease. Injuries are one of the causes, but the pathological process can also manifest itself in a healthy person. Doctors recommend instilling the right habits from a young age to maintain the health of the cervical spine and prevent the development of dangerous diseases:
- Correct posture both when walking and when working on the monitor is the main condition for an even load on the spine.
- Moderate physical activity - even a healthy person can benefit from simple daily exercises to strengthen and increase the elasticity of the muscles and ligaments of the neck.
- A properly selected mattress and pillow will help prevent nerve pinching and brain cell ischemia during sleep.
- Avoid electrical loads in everyday life - try not to carry weights in uncomfortable bags and pouches.
- for those who do sedentary work - regular breaks for a little warm-up;
- in the cold season - wear a scarf.