Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is a serious pathology characterized by degenerative-dystrophic changes in the structure of the intervertebral discs. This disorder often leads to dangerous complications. Therefore, it is strictly forbidden to ignore it. It is worth consulting a specialist in time to cope with the disease.
The essence of pathology
Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is a pathology in which the soft intervertebral pulp is transformed into bone tissue. This causes the blood vessels and nerve fibers to constrict.
Pain syndrome is a characteristic symptom of the disease. Localized in the neck, shoulders, upper back, head. Many patients experience dizziness, blood pressure fluctuations, nausea, and shortness of breath.
Dystrophic changes in the cervical region occur in middle and old age. This is due to the vertical position of the skeleton and the characteristics of the load distribution.
Doctors say the disease has occurred in men before. This happens at the age of 45-50. In women, manifestations of cervical osteochondrosis occur later - in the age of 50-55 years.
Various factors contribute to the development of this form of the disease.
The main causes of cervical osteochondrosis are as follows.
- Back injury. This can lead to a redistribution of pressure on the cartilage tissue, which causes them to change their structure and shape.
- Pathologies of the musculoskeletal system. This category includes scoliosis, rheumatism, bone tuberculosis.
- Unusual physical activity. Inactive people have depletion of the back muscles that support the spine. This condition can be aggravated by the deposition of salts caused by lactic acid. A weakened spine is more easily deformed and less mobile.
- Obesity. The appearance of excess weight is a great danger to the musculoskeletal system. In addition to the increased stress on the spine, adipose tissue lacks the nutrients needed to maintain muscle tissue and cartilage tone.
- Prolonged inactivity. The disease is common in drivers and people engaged in intellectual work. After being in a compressed state for a long time, the cartilage tissue gradually loses its elasticity. Over time, the intervertebral discs acquire an unnatural configuration.
- Eating Disorders. For the body to function properly, the diet must contain enough protein, fat, minerals and vitamins. Improper nutrition leads to the destruction of the structure of tissues and their rapid destruction.
Cervical osteochondrosis is often the result of a hereditary predisposition. In this case, it develops without the influence of pathologically significant factors.
You should start therapy on time to prevent the onset of the disease.
Stages of the disease
There are several stages of pathology, each of which is characterized by certain features:
- Initially- the main symptom of the condition is spinal instability. This manifests itself in the initial lesions of the intervertebral discs;
- The secondis the main manifestation of protrusion. This condition is characterized by a reduction in the gaps between the vertebrae and a gradual deterioration of the integrity of the annulus fibrosus. Nerve spasms often occur;
- Third- at this stage, the annulus fibrosus is completely destroyed. This causes an intervertebral hernia. This condition is characterized by severe damage to the spine;
- The fourthis the most difficult. At this stage, there is sharp pain with any movement. Sometimes the condition improves, but this shows the appearance of bone structures that connect the vertebrae. This leads to a decrease in physical activity and causes disability.
This form of osteochondrosis is characterized by special manifestations. This is due to the proximity of the cervical vertebrae and the low height of the discs. Therefore, even small changes cause serious manifestations. In addition, this form of osteochondrosis is often accompanied by compression of the spinal roots.
Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis include:
- Painful feelings. Localized in different areas - back of head, neck, shoulder girdle, arms. Anxiety in the arm or shoulder girdle is caused by nerve endings. Pain in the occipital region is associated with spasms of the neck muscle tissue and poor circulation.
- Weakness in the arms. This symptom is caused by damage to the motor nerves responsible for innervating the muscles of the arms.
- Decreased sensitivity in the hands. This symptom is due to the defeat of the roots, which contain sensitive fibers that are responsible for the innervation of the skin of the hands.
- Decreased motor function of the neck, appearance. Such symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis are the result of a decrease in the height of the discs. These include damage to the intervertebral joints and bone growth in the spine.
- Weakness, loss of coordination and dizziness. These manifestations are caused by damage to the vertebral artery. The formation of fibrous tissue and the displacement of the vertebrae cause problems with blood flow in the arteries. As a result, there is a violation of blood flow in the occipital region of the brain and cerebellum.
- Hearing loss, slurred speech, impaired visual acuity. These symptoms of cervical lumbar osteochondrosis are associated with aggravation of the condition and the development of cerebrovascular accidents.
A number of diagnostic procedures are required to detect osteochondrosis of the neck.
The most informative studies include:
- Magnetic resonance imaging is the most informative study that allows you to assess the condition of the spine and the discs between them. It is also possible to detect, assess the size and localization of hernias using this procedure.
- Radiography - this procedure is one of the most available research methods. However, it is often not known, especially in the later stages of the disease.
- Computed tomography - allows you to detect changes in the structure of the spine. However, the presence of a hernia or compression of the spinal cord is difficult to diagnose using this method.
- Duplex ultrasound scan - helps to detect blood flow disorders in the vertebral artery. The procedure reveals obstructions and slowing of blood flow in the arteries.
Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis is selected taking into account various factors. This depends on the stage of the disease, the form of the disease, the severity of symptoms.
Basic therapy includes:
- Conservative therapy - can be drug or non-drug;
- Combination of conservative methods and surgical treatment.
Treatment of cervical lumbar osteochondrosis can be carried out using the following drugs:
- Analgesics - These are non-steroidal medications that help manage pain. They are usually prescribed in tablet form. It should be noted that many drugs from this category cause irritation of the mucous membranes of the digestive tract.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs are hormonal substances that help control inflammation and relieve pain. Prednisolone-based pills and ointments are usually prescribed for cervical osteochondrosis.
- Systemic agents of delayed action - these drugs contain elements that replace the components of cartilage tissue. These include hyaluronic acid and chondroitin. Such funds must be taken for a long time to achieve a stable positive effect.
- Muscle Relaxants - These medications help to relax muscle tone. They are used in surgery and orthopedics as an additional tool to relieve pain. Such substances are given parenterally, so this should be done under the supervision of a physician. With the development of osteochondrosis, glycerin-based substances are used. It should be noted that they have many contraindications.
- Vitamin complexes. When such osteochondrosis occurs, the use of vitamins that have a beneficial effect on the nervous system and improve permeability is indicated. These include B vitamins. Other vitamins are also indicated - A, C, D, E. Many doctors prescribe a combination of vitamins and painkillers.
- Ointments and gels for topical use. Such agents may have different properties - warming, analgesic, anti-inflammatory. You must undergo a medical examination before using a particular product.
Treatment of cervical lumbar osteochondrosis necessarily requires the use of basic methods of physiotherapy.
The most effective procedures include:
- Electrophoresis with drugs. Under the influence of an electric current, the particles of the drug penetrate into the desired area. Due to this, it is possible to stimulate blood circulation and achieve analgesic effect.
- Ultrasonic exposure. Thanks to this procedure, it is possible to cope with the pain and stop the inflammation. In addition, this method activates metabolic processes in the body.
- Magnetotherapy. With its help it is possible to cope with edema and achieve an analgesic effect.
- Laser exposure. This method helps to normalize blood circulation and helps to cope with inflammation.
Special exercises should be done to make the treatment of the disease as effective as possible. It is prescribed after the elimination of acute symptoms. It is important to keep in mind that there should be no pain or discomfort during lessons.
The most effective exercises include:
- Lie on your stomach, put your hands on the floor, lift your head and torso. It is worth making sure that the back stays straight. You need to stay in this position for 1-2 minutes. Then gently lower yourself to the ground. Do 2-3 reps.
- Lie on your stomach, stretch your arms, turn your head to the left and touch the ground to your ears. Make a similar movement to the right. Repeat 6-7 times in each direction.
- Sit down and bend down to take a breath. Touch your chin to your chest. After that, throw your head back and lean back. Do 10-15 reps.
- Sit down, put your palms on your forehead. Press your head into your hands for 30 seconds. You only need to do 2-3 reps.
- Slowly turn your head in different directions. You must make 10 turns in each direction. If you feel dizzy, stop training.
You must have a massage to relieve the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis. The procedure should be performed as carefully as possible without effort. The movements should extend to the neck, collar and back.
It is good to massage while lying on your stomach. In extreme cases, sitting is allowed.
The technique is based on the following techniques:
- multiplication - means the effect on the surface areas of the skin. To do this, move your head from the back to the upper third using your hands or the palms of your fingers. You can also do zigzag movements.
- Compression - the effect on the deeper areas of the skin in the upper third of the back. To do this, hold the skin with your thumb and forefinger. This should be done very carefully without affecting the tissue in the vertebral region.
- Wash - a procedure performed to warm the skin and increase blood circulation in the neck area. It should be done very carefully without affecting the spinous areas of the spine.
- Kneading - is rarely used because it affects deep tissues. This can only make the anomaly worse.
It is quite possible to massage yourself with osteochondrosis. To do this, you need to sit comfortably and use the methods of stroking and rubbing the neck and shoulders. It is recommended to rub the procedure with ointments that increase blood flow and relieve pain in the affected area.
Surgery is indicated in the following cases:
- Presence of neurological abnormalities - impaired motor movement, weakness or loss of sensitivity in the hands, loss of control over defecation. If such symptoms appear, persistent nerve damage may be suspected. Therefore, it is very important to perform surgery to remove the compression.
- A person has constant pain that impairs their quality of life and cannot be eliminated by conservative methods.
With the development of cervical osteochondrosis, the following operations can be performed:
- anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. The operation is performed on the front of the neck. The procedure aims to remove the affected disc, decompress the nerve fibers and implant a special device to maintain the distance between the vertebrae.
- Intervertebral disc replacement. In this case, the affected disc is removed and replaced with an artificial disc. Thanks to this procedure, it is possible to maintain physical activity.
Surgery to relieve neurological symptoms is highly effective. According to some estimates, it is 80-90%. However, such methods are not effective enough to relieve the pain associated with osteochondrosis.
Cervical osteochondrosis is a serious pathology. There are many nerves and blood vessels in this part of the spine that are responsible for nourishing the brain. In addition, the cervical vertebrae are closely aligned. Therefore, small changes in this area cause the blood vessels and nerves to constrict or move.
Cerebral blood flow disorders cause the appearance of migraines, vegetative-vascular dystonia, and hypertension. There is also a risk of problems with the functioning of the respiratory system, heart and blood vessels. Many people have impaired hearing, reduced visual acuity, and poor coordination of movements.
In difficult cases, cervical osteochondrosis causes vertebral artery syndrome. This vessel is responsible for the blood supply to the cerebellum and medulla oblongata. Compression of a vessel carries a risk of cerebral ischemia and spinal cord injury.
It can also damage pathological nerve roots. This manifests itself in the form of growths, the appearance of radiculopathy and loss of physical activity. The most difficult consequence of the disease is compression of the spinal cord, which can be fatal.
To prevent the development of pathology, it is necessary to follow simple rules:
- Practice systematically;
- Eat right;
- Take vitamins and other medications prescribed by your doctor;
- Avoid prolonged restless postures;
- Use orthopedic furniture;
- Choose clothes and shoes that are appropriate for the season, especially in winter.
Cervical osteochondrosis is a very dangerous disease that can lead to negative health consequences.
To prevent serious complications, you should immediately consult a doctor and strictly follow his recommendations.