Osteochondrosis is understood as a degenerative disease of the intervertebral cartilaginous layers. Today this problem has acquired a global scale.
In Europe alone, about 60% of adults suffer from cervical osteochondrosis. Doctors associate this fact with the static nature of people, their low mobility and a type of sedentary work.
If not so long ago, this disease developed around the age of fifty, now it is impossible not to realize that the disease has been significantly rejuvenated - the average age threshold here has been lowered to 24 years.
But more and more often, 18-year-olds come to hospitals with this problem. Speaking of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, the symptoms and treatment cannot be ignored, because these questions are of interest to many.
How does osteochondrosis of the cervical spine develop: causes and first signs?
Everyone knows that the spinal column is made up of bony vertebrae, between which are cartilaginous "cushions" - intervertebral discs. Due to poor blood flow and poor quality nutrition, cartilage tissue does not receive a complex of nutrients here. This leads to a change in the structure of the cartilage, its deformation and contraction. They gradually lose their former elasticity, become less durable.
As the shock-absorbing intervertebral layers dry out, the vertebrae press against each other. As a result, nerve endings and blood lines are compressed, causing pain and numbness in the muscles, migraines, and a host of other symptoms. Over time, the cartilage tissue is destroyed, it becomes fibrous tissue. Gradually, adjacent vessels, nerve fibers, and bone structures become involved in this pathological process.
The main factors in the development of cervical osteochondrosis.
The main reason for the development of osteochondrotic pathologies is considered degenerative-dystrophic changes. There are several factors that contribute to this. Consider the main reasons for the appearance of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine:
- Congenital predisposition.
- Aging of the body.
- Alterations in metabolic processes.
- Overweight, obesity.
- Errors in the diet: lack of mineral compounds and systematic lack of fluids.
- Traumatic injury
- Weakened skeletal muscles, poor posture, flat feet.
- Physical inactivity, sedentary work.
- Physical overload, the specificities of the profession, when you have to work in an uncomfortable position, make spasmodic muscle efforts.
- The end of a sports career and the related termination / reduction of energy loads.
- Psycho-emotional stress.
- Nicotine addiction.
- The appearance of tumor structures.
It should be noted that the causes of pathological chondrotic changes in the cervical spine have not been sufficiently studied to date. But it is known with certainty that a prolonged stay in a standing or sitting position without much movement, an overly soft bed, untrained muscles of the back and waist of the upper extremities, and inadequate nutrition create an ideal combination for the development ofcervical osteochondrosis.
Osteochondrosis does not appear suddenly. It develops gradually over a fairly long time, from several years to decades. The initial dystrophic changes in the vertebral layers are not manifested in any way. They can only be detected by chance on an X-ray or during a CT scan.
At the next stage of the development of the disease, a decrease in the thickness of the cartilage layer is observed. Microscopic cracks appear in the intervertebral cartilage. Numbness of certain areas of the muscles may appear. Over time, a bulge develops, hernias are possible. The patient suffers from headaches and muscle aches.
In the last stage of disease progression, bone tissue grows pathologically, nerve endings are damaged, and chronic pain syndrome develops. Due to cervical osteochondrosis, there may be a curvature of the upper spine, sciatica, stenosis (narrowing of the lumen of the spinal canal).
Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine: symptoms and treatment.
We examined the first signs of osteochondrosis, now let's talk directly about the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis.
For cervical osteochondrosis, the following symptoms are characteristic:
- Numbness and spasm of the muscles of the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
- Pulling sensations, pain in the dorsal and cervical region.
- Painful sensations can be given to the hands.
- Headaches, especially in the occipital region, migraines.
- Dizziness, tinnitus, visual disturbances (blurring, appearance of "flies" and colored spots).
- Regular numbness in the toes of the upper extremities.
- Stiff head movements, limitation of rotation and tilt, all accompanied by pain and a pulling sensation.
- Pain on palpation of the vertebral area.
- Tendency to increase blood pressure.
Due to muscle weakness, there may be impaired coordination of movements. In the presence of heart problems, they can be aggravated due to a spasm of the vertebral artery. The pain can extend to the sternum and retrosternal space.
As you can see, the symptoms are varied. This leads to the fact that people, identifying certain deviations in themselves, seek help from the wrong specialist (cardiologist, orthopedist, traumatologist). This complicates the diagnosis and timely detection of cervical osteochondrosis.
Which doctor should I contact if I have osteochondrosis?
If a complex of the described symptoms of osteochondrosis appears, you should immediately seek medical help. You need to get an appointment with a therapist or neurologist. After the initial clarification of the clinical picture as a result of the survey, examination of the patient and palpation of the affected area, the doctor will give a referral for tests and prescribe an additional examination.
You may need to go through:
- Bone scan.
- Computed tomography.
- Magnetic resonance.
The X-ray will help determine the location of the injuries and the degree of neglect of the disease. Tomographic examination will help to assess the state of adjacent tissues and myography - the conductivity of muscle fibers and their innervation. All this will allow to correctly diagnose and outline an effective treatment regimen. The process will be long and will require patience and work on yourself.
It will not be possible to fully restore the cartilaginous structures, but significantly improving the quality of life and getting rid of chronic pain is a completely feasible task. You will have to go back to the exams more than once.
After all, it will be necessary to monitor the course of the disease, adjust the treatment program, predict possible complications or improvements. Therefore, even if the pain has subsided, this is not a reason to refuse repeated diagnostic measures.
How to deal with osteochondrosis of the neck?
For the disease to be released, a wide range of different methods must be used. In most cases, active treatment lasts for several months. But here a lot depends on the enthusiasm, conscience and will power of the patient. In some cases, surgery is required. When starting treatment, you must adhere to the following principles.
- Medical advice must be unwaveringly followed. All changes in condition and adverse reactions should be reported to the attending physician.
- You must learn to dose the load, avoid excessive muscular activity and muscular overexertion of the cervical spine.
- It is necessary to give up sports overload and, if necessary, change jobs.
- Physical therapy exercises are a prerequisite. They should be done systematically and preferably daily. Special gymnastics for the neck should be selected individually, taking into account the capabilities of the patient and the degree of negligence of the disease. A series of exercises is performed under the guidance of an instructor.
- The use of anti-inflammatories and analgesics must be strictly justified and dosed. All medications, especially hormonal ones, are prescribed by a doctor.
- It is important to maintain an anatomically correct body position. Even in a dream. Therefore, the mattress must be firm enough. With an orthopedic pillow, they are determined by the direct fit method.
- If necessary, you need to sit regularly for a long time, with an interval of a couple of hours, perform a short warm-up for the neck. It is advisable to get up at the same time, although the sitting position is also allowed.
Why do you need to heat?
This simple method will allow you to:
- restore normal blood flow;
- stretch stiff muscles;
- get rid of the sensations of numbness, tingling and pulling;
- relieve muscle tension;
- prevent muscle spasms and muscle groups;
- Avoid overloading the cervical spine.
All exercises are as simple as possible. They are familiar to everyone from childhood and do not take long. It will take a few minutes. They can be done both at home and in the workplace. Are you embarrassed by tactless employee opinions?
Retreat on stairs or into a toilet. You may even be able to perform transport exercises discreetly, avoiding unnecessary attention. All exercises should be done with a straight back. It is recommended to expand the shoulders and protrude the chest a little. Make the maximum turns allowed with your head to the side.
Act carefully and without fanaticism so as not to damage the weakened spine. After that, several times alternately lower your head to one or the other shoulder. Now you can perform various rotational movements: 10-15 in each direction.
Another good exercise. Stretch the spine as far as possible, as if it were suspended by the crown. Now slowly tilt your head forward, trying to press the edge of your chin against your chest. Then you need to slowly and carefully perform the opposite action. In the presence of any damage, you cannot tilt your head back! Consult your doctor.
The order in which the exercises are performed does not matter. The set of actions and the number of repetitions are selected individually. As you stretch your neck, don't forget about your chest. They are closely related. It is recommended to try to bring your shoulder blades together from time to time. You may hear a creaking noise.
Don't be afraid, these are the vertebrae in place. After that, relief is usually felt. To relieve tension on the trapezius muscle, you need to lift your shoulders as high as possible and then forcefully lower them as low as possible. Actions are performed multiple times. Then roll your shoulders and wave your hands.
For cervical osteochondrosis, various types of drugs are used. These drugs are used during periods of exacerbation of the disease. They are designed to solve a series of tasks:
- elimination of pain;
- fight inflammation;
- Strengthening of metabolic processes in affected tissues.
In addition, drugs are used, including hormonal and vitamin preparations, which stimulate the restoration of cartilage tissue.
Other methods of dealing with pain.
In addition to exercise therapy and drugs, the following methods of action are included in the complex of measures to eliminate the manifestations of osteochondrosis of the cervical zone.
- Increased intervertebral spaces due to stretching of the spine. To do this, a dosed load is applied. The impact is carried out in different ways, including the use of special boards. This measurement allows you to return the spine to its previous length, shape it correctly, and release pinched nerves. Some patients, desperate to find an effective way to get rid of chronic pain, turn to bone implants. Here the spinal column is attacked. This method can help, provided it is a professional with medical training.
- Massage also works well. This procedure helps to disperse blood, improve nutrition and gas exchange of cartilage tissue, relieve muscle tension and pinching, and relieve pain. If possible, you should also resort to self-massage. But you need to act competently, having passed the proper instructions. You can massage your neck, shoulders, scalp, arms, and neck area on your own. Rubbing, kneading, light pressure is used. Acupressure massage is effective when the impact occurs on the active points of the body. But this requires special knowledge and considerable experience. Therefore, only a professional chiropractor should be consulted.
- Physiotherapy involves the use of various means: magnetic field, laser, ultrasound, low-frequency current. Medicines are often used here. This method of introduction has a local effect, improves its effectiveness and avoids a number of side effects. Physical procedures help fight pain, inflammation, accelerate post-traumatic and postoperative rehabilitation.
- Acupuncture, like manual therapy, improves or inhibits various processes in the body by acting on the so-called biologically active points of the body. Reflexology allows you to correct metabolism, increase blood flow, and relieve pain. But despite its effectiveness, this method is not suitable for everyone, because it involves the use of needles, which some patients categorically do not accept.
The greatest efficiency of these measures is achieved when they are used in a single complex under medical supervision. To a large extent, the success of therapy depends on the commitment and desire of the patient to cope with osteochondrosis.