Lumbar osteochondrosis

Lumbar osteochondrosis is a neurological disease of the spine that affects people of all ages, in which degenerative-dystrophic changes in the lumbar spine occur. They affect the intervertebral discs, articular cartilage, bone tissue.

pain in the lumbar region with osteochondrosis

The cause of the disease is the severe stress that the lower back experiences on a daily basis, when walking, sitting, lifting weights. It is very important to start osteochondrosis treatment as soon as possible to avoid possible complications. Lumbar osteochondrosis is a rather complex disease that requires complex therapy, under the supervision of an experienced specialist.

Main features

Lumbosacral osteochondrosis is a degenerative-dystrophic disease of the articular cartilages of the spine, which are located in the lumbar spine. In other words, this disease means the destruction of the cartilaginous discs that are located between the vertebral bodies. The mobility of the vertebrae decreases, the distance between them decreases, compression (compression) of the nerve endings occurs.

The lumbosacral spine suffers more often than others due to the fact that it is on it that the maximum load falls. In 80% of patients who complain of back pain, doctors accurately diagnose osteochondrosis. The disease begins with the breakdown of glycoproteins in the connective tissue, it is these compounds that give it elasticity. The intervertebral discs are the first to suffer from this process.

Each disc consists of a core and an outer fibrous ring. After the core dries, the disc loses its elastic properties and the fibrous ring cracks and delaminates. Through the gaps in the ring, the nucleus can fall out (a hernia is formed).

As a result of these processes, the load on the vertebrae increases significantly, the body responds to this with a sharp increase in the formation of bone tissue in the places of greatest load.

Which vertebrae are affected

The lumbar region is made up of five vertebrae: L1-L5, the fifth vertebra is attached to the sacrum. The discs between them are most often affected by osteochondrosis.

There are several types of lumbosacral osteochondrosis, they differ in the location of the vertebrae.

  1. Upper lumbar level disease (1, 2 and 3 vertebrae).
  2. Lower lumbar level disease (3, 4 and 5 vertebrae).
  3. Osteochondrosis of the sacrum (localized in the sacral bones). This type of disease is very rare.
  4. Fusion of the bones of the sacrum and vertebrae.

Stages of development of lumbosacral osteochondrosis

There are four stages (sometimes three are distinguished) of osteochondrosis of the lumbosacral region. Here they are:

  1. There are changes in the core and its location.
  2. Destruction of the outer fibrous ring begins.
  3. After the ring breaks, the core falls out.
  4. Destructive processes affect the vertebrae, joints, ligaments.

In the first stage of lumbosacral osteochondrosis, a person experiences some discomfort and pain in the lower back. It can be acute or painful in nature. There is a spasm of muscles and blood vessels, problems in the functioning of organs.

Spasms of the vessels of the lower extremities can lead to atherosclerosis, bladder dysfunction.

In the second stage, due to the instability of the vertebrae, the back muscles are constantly strained. Patients complain of fatigue, discomfort and uncertainty in the lower back.

In the third stage, the core of the disc falls out of the fibrous ring and an intervertebral hernia is formed. Fragments of a fallen disc pinch the nerve roots that innervate internal organs, muscles and areas of the skin. As a result, a change in the sensitivity of a certain area develops, a burning sensation, numbness and loss of sensation may develop. Compression of the nerves can lead to loss of motor function or muscle atrophy.

According to the area where a violation of innervation occurs, doctors can tell exactly where the spine is damaged. If fragments of the disc fall into the spinal canal, the spinal cord is pinched. This often disrupts the functioning of the pelvic organs and the motor function of the lower limbs.

At the fourth stage, there is a complete replacement of the disc tissues with dense connective tissue. There is a certain restoration of the supportive function of the spine, the pain subsides slightly, but its mobility and elasticity are lost.

The above stages are conditional, because the development of the disease is very individual.

Symptoms: the body will tell

Symptoms can be divided into main, associated with changes in the spine, and additional, associated with reduced innervation due to pinched nerves.


  • pain and numbness in the lower back. At first, it can be temporary and manifest during physical exertion and movement. As they develop, they become permanent, they can be sharp or sore, they also appear when coughing or sneezing;
  • fatigue and depression;
  • decreased sensitivity of the lower limbs;
  • reduced mobility of the lower back;
  • curvature of the spine, lordosis.


  • severe back pain;
  • deterioration of reflexes;
  • shootings in the lower limbs, lameness;
  • muscle weakness;
  • decreased sweating;
  • feeling of cold in the legs.

Depending on the localization of osteochondrosis, pains are observed in different parts of the body:

  • with damage to 1-2 vertebrae - in the inguinal region;
  • with damage to 3-4 vertebrae - in the lower leg and in the thigh area;
  • with the defeat of the 5th vertebra - in the sacrum, in the lower back.

How is lumbosacral osteochondrosis diagnosed?

Diagnosis begins with a detailed investigation of the patient. The doctor should listen carefully to the patient's complaints, find out the localization and intensity of pain, pay special attention to side symptoms (loss of skin sensitivity, impaired motor function).

The doctor must trace the development of symptoms over time, analyze the nature and effectiveness of the previous treatment (or self-treatment). In addition, the doctor should pay attention to the history, ask the patient about his lifestyle, working conditions and previous illnesses.

Particular attention should be paid to posture, possible curvature of the spine. Noteworthy is the way the patient moves, the degree of development of the muscles.

The main diagnostic tool for lumbosacral osteochondrosis is radiography. MRI and computed tomography are used successfully.


The lumbosacral region has a number of unique characteristics. The spinal cord ends at the level of the 12th thoracic-1 lumbar vertebrae. In the lumbosacral region there are spinal nerve fibers, which are collected in a bundle. The lumbar and sacral roots form the sciatic nerve.

The main feature of this section of the spine is a large load (dynamic and static), which it constantly undergoes. This is why the lumbar discs wear out earlier.

Possible consequences

This disease is dangerous for its consequences:

  • damage to the knee and pelvic joints;
  • dysfunction of internal organs (problems with potency in men and reproductive organs in women);
  • low back pain, sciatica and low back pain;
  • compression of the spinal cord, which leads to impaired reflexes;
  • inflammation of the sciatic nerve.

Scientists are still unable to answer what exactly causes this disease. Or rather, which of the factors has the greatest influence on its development. Some researchers believe that lumbosacral osteochondrosis is the price a person pays for walking upright. Indeed, this disease is not observed in animals.

The factors causing this disease can be divided into external and internal. Here are the main reasons that cause it:

  • severe spinal injury;
  • inheritance;
  • flat feet;
  • prolonged standing;
  • posture disorders;
  • sedentary lifestyle;
  • excess body weight;
  • unbalanced diet.

Who is at risk

Nobody is immune from this disease. Hereditary factors determine a greater or lesser predisposition to it. However, external factors and a person's lifestyle have a great influence on the likelihood of developing this disease.

Another cause of the disease is excessive exercise and injuries.

Proper nutrition is important for the prevention of osteochondrosis: food must contain all the necessary components, be rich in vitamins and microelements.


Treatment can be surgical or conservative. If the disease is at the stage of the onset of intervertebral hernias, surgical intervention is indispensable. Conservative treatment includes the following methods:

  • pharmacological therapy;
  • physiotherapy and spinal traction;
  • massage and manual therapy;
  • physiotherapy exercises.

Drug therapy includes anti-inflammatory drugs, pain relievers, muscle spasm and injection blocks. Chondroprotectors are also used, they reduce pain, promote the regeneration of damaged cartilage formations. In some cases, hormonal drugs are used.


Basic principles for the prevention of lumbosacral osteochondrosis:

  • prevention of excessive load on the lower back;
  • strengthen the back muscles;
  • maintaining correct posture;
  • physical activity;
  • appropriate nutrition;
  • regulation of the rest regime;
  • timely treatment of other back diseases.

Home treatments


There are fairly simple exercises that a person can independently perform at home. They are used for both therapeutic and prophylactic purposes. Their main task is to strengthen the back muscles to partially unload the spine.

physical therapy

Therapeutic exercise is one of the main ways to treat osteochondrosis. Exercise helps strengthen the muscles, which relieves some of the load from the spine. It improves blood circulation in the tissues, including the intervertebral discs. Therapeutic exercise helps to remove muscle tension, reduce pain.


Massage is an excellent treatment for lumbar osteochondrosis. Improve blood supply to tissues, reduce pain, relieve clamps, strengthen muscle corset.

Instead of an epilogue

Summarizing the above, it can be noted that this disease is a real "disease of the century" that threatens any modern person.

Lumbosacral osteochondrosis gives a person excruciating pain, can turn into a disabled person. It is very difficult to cure this disease, especially in an advanced form.

The positive point is that it is in each of us' power to avoid the development of osteochondrosis. All you have to do is take care of your spine: don't stress it too much, control your weight, lead a healthy lifestyle, eat normally, avoid injuries.

If you have begun to notice the first symptoms of osteochondrosis, consult a doctor. In the early stages, this disease is quite easily treatable. Take care of your spine so that even in old age the movements bring you joy, not discomfort.