Osteochondrosis: symptoms, treatment, prevention of disease

Humans are the only mammals that move upright on their backs. In this regard, the spine is experiencing a huge overload. On the one hand, sedentary lifestyles dominate, on the other hand, sports activities related to weightlifting, sudden exercise and even taking public transportation; all these factors lead to the appearance of common diseases such as osteochondrosis. In addition, this disease is most commonly found in the working population.

The doctor demonstrates the development of osteochondrosis

What is osteochondrosis, its type and stage

Osteochondrosis is a process in which the elasticity of the intervertebral disc is disturbed. Under the influence of unfavorable factors, the intervertebral disc loses fluid, becomes firmer, and becomes less elastic. This is due to the load on the spine during exercise: the pressure on the intervertebral disc shaft squeezes out the fluid. After a night’s rest, the spine should fully recover, but if the lifestyle is not active, this will not happen because the muscles and ligaments gradually lose their ability to stretch, which means they can fully recover.

Cervical osteochondrosis

This type of osteochondrosis is considered the most insidious. The vertebrae that make up the neck are very close. Even a slight deformation can have serious consequences: headache, pressure surge, heart pain. When the disease is neglected, numbness of the limbs, tinnitus, difficulty breathing, and vision problems may occur. Some symptoms can easily be confused with common headaches or fatigue, but if symptoms often recur, you should see a doctor as soon as possible to establish a correct diagnosis in time.

Thoracic Osteochondrosis

The main symptom of this type is chest pain. In most cases, it appears on one side, which is defined as pain or tingling. One characteristic is the connection with exercise, and under static load, pain will increase. There are two types of chest pain: one is acute but short-lived, and the other is mild but long lasting. If you go to the doctor on time, you can cure the disease without surgery.

Lumbar osteochondrosis

This is the most common type of osteochondrosis. Both men and women suffer from it with the same frequency. Acute pain occurs in the transitional area from the lumbar spine to the sacral spine. The main problem is the reduction of cartilage tissue, resulting in a reduction in the distance between the vertebrae, which is the direct way to form an intervertebral hernia. Pain may have many causes: compression of nerve endings, narrowing of veins, compression of sciatic nerve. The exact cause will be determined by the doctor.

Orientation of osteochondrosis of neck, thoracic and lumbar spine

Failure of two or more parts of the spine

Failure of osteochondrosis of the entire spine or several parts can worsen a person's general condition. The possibility of hernia has increased many times. The constant pain prevents people from living a normal life. Before the process of cartilage tissue change becomes irreversible, the disease must be treated as soon as possible.

The development of the disease has four stages:

  • The initial manifestation is mild and short-term pain caused by unstable spine work;
  • In the second stage, the vertebrae are displaced, shortening the distance between them;
  • In the third stage, the intervertebral disc may have been severely deformed until a hernia is formed;
  • In the final stage, a person feels stiff movement, which may be accompanied by acute pain.

Symptoms and signs

Since there are no obvious symptoms, it is difficult to track the onset of the disease. Sometimes after sitting for a long time or sleeping alone, the back will be numb, and goose bumps will appear on the legs. All these unpleasant feelings pass quickly, you just need to move or rub a stiff leg. The acute pain is as unexpected as always: a person stumbles, turns around violently-and develops a pain syndrome, and even thinking about the next step is frightening. Applying pressure to the interference area can cause pain, restricted movement, and muscle tension. There is a protective spasm; therefore, the body ensures that the painful area does not move further. This usually lasts about 24 hours before the muscles can relax.

Therefore, the signs of osteochondrosis include discomfort in various parts of the body, accompanied by pain. Pain can be concentrated in the neck, shoulders, back, and chest. In addition to the symptoms described, symptoms such as headache, dizziness, fatigue, heartache, and impaired sensitivity of the limbs may also occur. Doctors who locate pain syndromes will be able to determine where the spine has changed.

Reasons for development

The causes of disease onset include factors that interfere with proper nutrition of the intervertebral disc and make it impossible to recover:

  • Maintaining the body posture for a long time has an adverse effect on the work of the spine (first of all, sitting);
  • Trauma; this applies especially to people who engage in sports that have a heavy load on the spine (such as weightlifting);
  • Work related to long-term static load (for example, workers on the assembly line, hairdresser, etc. ); through such work, muscle congestion and circulatory disorders can be observed.

Since the main reason for the development of osteochondrosis is the uneven distribution of spine load, other factors that seem to be unimportant at first glance can also affect human health. Carrying a bag with one hand, sitting with a bent over, sleeping on a soft feather bed, bending of the neck while sleeping (high pillow), uncomfortable (although fashionable) shoes-all of these also play a role as a prerequisite for back diseases. Improper lifestyle, obesity, and adolescent scoliosis can also make the condition worse.

Osteochondrosis pain

Risk factors include:

  • Tall people, because their back muscles are underdeveloped;
  • Everyone who lives a sedentary lifestyle;
  • People who are forced to lift weights because of their profession;
  • Long-term vibration truck drivers;
  • Former athlete
  • People with similar cases in the family;
  • Pregnant women and menopausal women;
  • The elderly
  • Smoker.

How to diagnose the disease

If the patient finds the above symptoms, then you should see a local therapist who will refer the patient to a neurologist. In order to confirm the diagnosis, the neuropathologist can refer the patient to a more professional specialist-a spinal neurologist (a doctor who specializes in treating spinal diseases). A good chiropractor can also detect diseases by feeling the back. If the patient suspects a hernia, then a trauma surgeon is essential.

Instrumental methods are also used for diagnosis:

  • X-rays of the spine;
  • Myelography (this is not only a snapshot of bones, but also a snapshot of nerve endings and other structures);
  • Reflex studies (the notorious hammer of neuropathologists);
  • CT scan;
  • MRI (the most accurate and safest diagnostic method);
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (an indispensable method for intervertebral disc pathology).

The doctor prescribes the usual test for the patient.

In the general analysis of blood, attention should be paid to the indicators of white blood cells and erythrocyte sedimentation rate. An increase in the value will indicate the presence of an inflammatory process in the body. Low levels of hemoglobin indicate a lack of protein food, which directly affects the development of the degenerative process.

A general urine test will show the percentage of mineral salts in the body. The increased index indicates a violation of the correct balance of nutrients in the food.

Elevated blood sugar also indicates that the patient is not eating properly. In addition, it may be the first symptom of diabetes, causing complications in all organs of the human body.

The analysis of cholesterol levels in the blood is also very important because it can show the state of blood vessels.

Healthy spine and spine affected by osteochondrosis

Treatment of osteochondrosis

In the initial stage of the disease, drug therapy is used to a minimum. Medications are needed to relieve the patient’s condition, alleviate the inflammatory process, and improve metabolism. If these procedures are not enough, the doctor will prescribe a blocker, an injection, which is quite effective. Drugs taken by the elderly do not accumulate in the body.

Physical therapy complements medical therapy well. Physiological methods include: ultrasound, use of magnetic fields, low-frequency currents, laser therapy, etc. The principle of action is to expand blood vessels and increase blood circulation. Therefore, an analgesic effect is achieved and the impaired immune response is normalized.

Physical therapy is also good for the spine. A set of properly chosen exercises can make the most neglected patients stand up. Under the influence of physical activity, not only the impaired functions are restored, but the overall mental state of the patient is also improved. The appointment of this therapy convinces the patient that he will be able to return to a mature lifestyle. Simulators like special treatment boards have proven themselves perfectly. This is a cheap and effective way to restore spinal function.

Massage is based on a complex metabolic process. Thanks to him, blood and lymph circulation in the affected area are improved, thereby promoting metabolism, relaxing muscle tone, joint mobility and improving skin conditions. Massage can relieve pain, fatigue and improve physical condition.

Only professionals can participate in manual therapy, because illiterate experts may harm patients. This therapy is a set of measures that can significantly improve a person's condition. A good specialist can free the patient from dysfunction and restore the ability to make full use of the affected organs. The impact is carried out by means of pressure, twisting, pushing, yanking, etc.

Good results can be obtained by stretching the spine. It can be underwater and dry. It is used to increase the space between disks. Underwater, as the name suggests, takes place underwater, dry-on a table with special equipment. Traction can be vertical or horizontal, depending on the position of the body.

Complications of neglect disease

I believe everyone has rickets. But this is not a reason to ignore this problem. This is a completely harmless diagnosis. In particularly advanced cases, the disease can cause disability.

If treatment is neglected, then such complications may follow:

  • hernia;
  • Herniation (initial changes in the intervertebral disc);
  • Humpback (back hump);
  • Radiculitis;
  • Salt mine
  • Spinal cord stroke;
  • Circulatory disorders;
  • Leg numbness.

Untreated cervical osteochondrosis can cause headaches, dizziness and insomnia. Thoracic nerve enters intercostal neuralgia. The lumbar spine can cause inflammation of the sciatic nerve and dysfunction of the genitourinary system. The main condition for the treatment of osteochondrosis is gradual and orderly progress, and only continuous and purposeful efforts will have good results.

prevent disease

Prevention plays an important role in keeping the spine healthy. The first step is to reduce the risk of injury in the workplace. This applies to dynamic and static loads. If there is such an opportunity, you should move to another workplace when you have back pain. Otherwise, you need to take the necessary measures: constantly change your body position, optimize your workplace, do gymnastics or at least some exercise. Yoga classes can play a special role. This ancient Indian posture system, the so-called asanas, can help eliminate all tightness in the body, relax and stretch the spine.

The correct use of weight is of great importance to prevention.

Anyone taking care of the back must follow a few rules:

  • You cannot lift weights with outstretched arms; the correct way is to sit down, press the weight on your chest, and stand with your back straight;
  • You cannot carry heavy objects with one hand; it is correct to divide its weight into two roughly equal parts;
  • Even if your luggage is a bit heavy, you need to stop and rest your hands regularly;
  • The spine must be prepared to bear the load; this can be done through regular exercises to strengthen the back, the muscular corset.

If you can’t exercise regularly, you can use a more familiar walk instead. It is recommended to walk at least 8000 steps a day, but at the same time maintain a good posture, combine the number of steps with correct breathing; during the walking, you can try a variety of walking styles: toes, heels, raised legs, and race walking. If there is no time to do this, then even a short and energetic walk to get off work will be good for the body.

Swimming combines the ability to relax the vertebrae and exercise. In water, Archimedes' law works, reducing the weight of the human body, relaxing the muscles and stretching the spine. In addition, swimming can keep you in good physical condition.

Running can also prevent diseases. It should be remembered that lack of physical activity and excess will cause damage to the spine. You need to monitor your physical condition carefully and avoid pain.

If there are signs of inflammation, a medication applicator may help. When the needle touches the patient's skin, the nerve endings are stimulated, blood vessels expand, blood circulation improves, and the pain syndrome weakens. Longer exposures, up to 40 minutes, will cause muscles to relax.

The right diet is one of the most effective prevention methods.

It should serve several purposes:

  • Fight against overweight
  • The required amount of vitamins and minerals;
  • Prevent dehydration;
  • Slow down destructive processes.

In order for the diet to reach the goal, foods should be low in calories, including dairy products, fish, eggs, herbs, and vegetable oils. The doctor recommends eating dishes based on broth: soup, borscht, aspic, and aspic. In fact, this food contains protective agents that protect cartilage tissue. However, the elderly should be cautious with this diet, because the fat in the concentrated broth can block blood vessels in the brain.

Spine health is in everyone's hands. If you start to do gymnastics at the beginning of the pain, sign up to participate in the swimming pool, and adjust your diet, you can not only slow down the destruction of the vertebrae, but also generally improve your body. If you don't have time or don't want to live an active lifestyle, then you need to follow the basic safety rules written above in this article.