Osteochondrosis is a chronic disease of various parts of the spine, in which degenerative and dystrophic changes occur in the intervertebral discs. Men between the ages of 25 and 60 suffer more often from this ailment. The disease is typical of both the young and the elderly. Women get sick less often, and their symptoms aren't as obvious. At the initial stage of the disease, it is possible to achieve a stable remission and get rid of pain and discomfort for many years.
What are the types of osteochondrosis by localization
The classification of osteochondrosis of the spine has many forms and criteria. They differ in the location of the affected section and in severity. All types of osteochondrosis are pathologies fraught with destructive changes in cartilage and connective tissue.
The most common and understandable for a simple layman, far from medicine, the classification is based on the location of the lesion:
- Cervical osteochondrosis - is characterized by painful occipital, cervical and interscapular pain syndromes. Over the past decade, this disorder has been increasingly diagnosed in young people.
- Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine is very rare, as it has more discs than the cervical and lumbar discs combined, the discs are smaller and thinner. Part of the load is taken by the ribs. Therefore, degenerative and dystrophic changes rarely occur in the intervertebral discs of the thoracic spine.
- Lumbar osteochondrosis often occurs in people over the age of forty from a sedentary and sedentary lifestyle. It is characterized by severe back pain, pinching of the nerves and arteries of the abdominal organs, and many concomitant diagnoses of the internal organs.
Stages of the disease
Depending on the flow rate, the degree of degenerative changes, the manifestation of symptoms, four stages of the disease can be distinguished:
- The initial stage is characterized by symptom instability. The patient still does not feel severe pain. Occasionally it is possible to "pull" the pain in the affected area of the back.
- The second stage is characterized by a significant deterioration of the interaction of the vertebrae due to the progression of degenerative processes in the intervertebral discs. The development of the disease at this stage is provoked by improper physical activity, a sedentary and sedentary lifestyle.
- At the third stage, intervertebral hernias may begin to develop (some patients will pass this fate). In some cases, there are severe back pains. Concomitant diagnoses develop, which in one way or another affect all body systems. Symptoms vary depending on the location of the hernia and the location of the chondrosis.
- The fourth stage is the most difficult. The patient is unable to lead a satisfying lifestyle and enjoy freedom of movement. Almost all positions occupied by the body carry acute pain at the site of localization of osteochondrosis. At this stage, we can talk about the appointment of a disability to the patient.
Causes of the event
Osteochondrosis brings a lot of suffering, worsens the quality of life, can lead to complete or partial immobilization of the patient and disability. What are the reasons for the appearance of this ailment? Are the following:
- Sedentary lifestyle, static sitting or lying in one position. Muscles atrophy, vertebrae wear out the cartilage and discs between them. This process can last for years, but it will inevitably lead to osteochondrosis.
- Modern young men and women go to the gym and perform exercises with barbell and dumbbells, the improper performance of which leads to chronic diseases of the spine. For example, the wrong technique of performing the "squatting with a barbell" exercise has presented tens of thousands of young patients with acute osteochondrosis and scoliosis to surgeons and orthopedists.
- Also at risk are people who, due to their professional activity, have to sit at the table in one position for several hours at a time. According to WHO statistics, it is the employees who make up the lion's share of patients with osteochondrosis.
The main symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis
The vertebrae of the cervical spine gradually lose fluid and become brittle. As a result of this process, the veins and arteries are compressed. Nutrition of the brain is disrupted and subsequently the death of its cells. Cervical osteochondrosis has the greatest negative effect on the part of the brain responsible for heart muscle activity. Often the optic or auditory nerve is pinched, resulting in loss of vision and hearing impairment.
Types of cervical osteochondrosis:
- radicular, or the so-called "cervical radiculitis" - is characterized mainly by severe pain in the occiput, neck, head;
- irritative reflex - discomfort in the chest, back, numbness of the fingers;
- cardiac, which is characterized by symptoms of cardiovascular disease.
Only an orthopedic surgeon or surgeon can make an accurate diagnosis. Regardless of the type of cervical osteochondrosis, the treatment will be almost identical.
The main symptoms of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine
The rarest type of disease. Symptoms of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine are characteristic of many other diseases. An inexperienced doctor can often diagnose arrhythmias, angina pectoris, cardiomyopathy (pending ECG results), pancreatitis, or even gastritis. Only an experienced orthopedist or spinal surgeon can provide accurate information on the type of thoracic osteochondrosis.
With a pronounced pathological process, there is a disruption in the work of parts of the spinal cord. The main signs of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine:
- Dorsago - sharp and unbearable pains in the chest, feeling of shortness of breath, to the patient it seems that he is choking or that the heart rate is out of order.
- Back pain: the patient feels less discomfort than the back pain. The pain is less pronounced and radiates to the hands, fingers (therefore, doctors often confuse the symptoms with diseases of the cardiovascular system).
Symptoms and consequences of osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine
The most common type of osteochondrosis is the lumbar spine. This is due to the fact that it is the lower back that experiences the greatest stress in the process of everyday life.
In the first stage, the main symptom is a slight stretch in the lower back. People rarely attach importance to such mild ailments. As the intervertebral discs wear out, the negative symptoms also increase. In particular, the patient can no longer lie down or sit in one position for a long time due to pain.
At the third or fourth stage of osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine, there are:
- low back pain - sharp and sudden pain, the result of which may be partial immobilization of the patient;
- sciatica - unilateral entrapment of the sciatic nerve;
- sciatica - squeezing of nerve endings in the lumbar spine;
- weakness of the lower extremities, muscle atrophy, venous congestion, impaired sexual function and work of the abdominal and pelvic organs are also often observed;
- radiculoischemia - a failure of blood circulation due to vascular compression.
This type of disease affects not only the spine, but also the joints. Most often, the shoulder and hip. Symptoms of generalized osteochondrosis are neurological in nature, in rare cases with lesions of internal organs due to impaired blood circulation.
In the hip joint, the disease manifests itself as changes in cartilage tissue, drying out the interarticular fluid. Over time, the joint partially and then completely loses its former mobility.
Manifestations of the disease are not in one, but in several parts of the body. For example, there is often a combination of the defeat of the third and twelfth vertebrae - in this case, osteochondrosis will be considered polysegmental.
Therapy in this case will be exactly the same as for standard signs of cervical or thoracic osteochondrosis. Magnetotherapy and other physiotherapeutic procedures have proved excellent for the exacerbation of pain and discomfort due to polysegmental chondrosis. Now you know what types of spinal osteochondrosis exist.
Medicines for osteochondrosis
Pharmacological means of relieving the manifestation of symptoms of osteochondrosis can be divided into the following groups:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs - to relieve symptoms of pain and swelling of the affected area. There are two types: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and glucocorticosteroids.
- Pain relievers.
- Muscle relaxants to relieve muscle spasm.
- Hondoprotectors - medicines to improve the nutrition of cartilage tissue.
- Vitamin-mineral complexes - to restore normal blood circulation and activate metabolism.
- Medicines to improve and restore impulse conduction in nerve cells.
In some cases, diuretics need to be used to relieve swelling of the muscles and connective tissue between the vertebrae. It is strictly forbidden to prescribe drugs for yourself: you can not only not cure, but also aggravate the course of the disease.
Therapeutic gymnastics and physical education for osteochondrosis
Any orthopedist will confirm the importance of exercise in achieving remission in the chronic course of osteochondrosis.
What Kind of Sport is Safe for Osteochondrosis? It is better to prefer swimming, stretching, pilates, bending the body - those directions in which there are no sudden movements. Traumatic martial arts and weightlifting sports with osteochondrosis are prohibited. The patient should not work with a weight exceeding five kilograms.
Don't underestimate the benefits of daily morning exercise. It should not be done on a case-by-case basis, but on an ongoing basis. Only in this case will there be benefits for the spine. Simple swings of the hands, "mill", "bicycle" - exercises, familiar to everyone from childhood, will help to stretch the back and relieve pain. All movements must be performed as smoothly and precisely as possible to avoid injury.
Employees are required to disconnect from the computer once every hour and perform a five-minute warm-up. This will serve as an excellent prevention and treatment of existing osteochondrosis.
Massage and manual therapy
Of all the types of treatment for osteochondrosis, this is the most enjoyable. Much depends on the choice of a specialist - both the result and the feeling. Types of massage for osteochondrosis: classic, acupressure, canned, hardware, honey.
With manual therapy, the situation is more complicated. First, this procedure is painful: often manualist patients cannot hold back a cry of pain during manipulations with the spine. Second, if the chiropractor is inexperienced, this procedure can be dangerous. Choose specialists with good patient reviews, a real diploma and extensive therapeutic experience.