What is osteochondrosis of the spine, its causes, symptoms and treatment

Everybody has heard about such a disease as osteochondrosis, but not everyone knows what the essence of this ailment is. To a large number of patients, doctors daily diagnose this, while only a few understand what osteochondrosis is. This pathological condition is diagnosed today not only in older patients, as it was still 10-20 years ago, but also in twenty-year-olds. Such sad statistics are connected first of all with the modern unhealthy way of life.

If you find the definition of osteochondrosis in any medical literature, it sounds like this: degenerative-dystrophic changes of the spine, which primarily affect the intervertebral discs, lead to the loss of their basic functions, which is expressed in a diverse clinical picture. Depending on the location of damaged discs, osteochondrosis of the spine is identified:

  • of the cervical region;
  • of the thoracic region;
  • lumbar.

Causes and mechanism of the disease

To varying degrees, signs of osteochondrosis develop in all people of the older age group. This process is an integral part of aging. But, unfortunately, this process is not excluded even at a young age, when the cause of its development are traumatic injuries, diseases of the spinal column, various static and dynamic spine overloads.

The most common degeneration of the cartilaginous tissue of the intervertebral discs affects the most mobile parts of the spine - in the first place is the cervical, the second - the lumbar and the third - the thoracic.

At the moment, more than 10 theories have been developed about the causes of osteochondrosis( vascular, hereditary, mechanical, allergic, infectious, hormonal, etc.), but none of them fully reveals the essence of this disease, they are designed to complement each other.

Risk factors for osteochondrosis:

  • is a genetic predisposition for this disease;
  • endocrinological, metabolic diseases;
  • chronic infection;
  • extra pounds and excess weight;
  • irrational nutrition and lack of vitamins, microelements;
  • non-compliance with the drinking regime with the development of latent dehydration;
  • age-related degenerative and atrophic changes in the aging process;
  • suffered spine trauma;
  • pathology of the musculoskeletal system( incorrect posture, flat feet, osteoarthritis, pathological bends of the spine, congenital hypermobility of charters, etc.);
  • inactivity;
  • work associated with constant lifting of weights, with a long stay in an uncomfortable and unphysiological position;
  • is engaged in professional sports;
  • bad habits;
  • a habit of walking on high heels.
sedentary work
Constant sedentary work in nonphysiological and uncomfortable posture is a serious factor in the development of osteochondrosis

Development and progression of osteochondrosis is a long process that gradually goes through 4 stages. At the first stage, changes occur in the intervertebral disc. Its pulpous core, which is a jelly-like mass, consists of proteoglycans( these substances have an important function-they hold water molecules) that provide the damping properties of the disc.

Due to some reasons( mechanical loading on the disc, dehydration, disturbance of microcirculation and nutrition of the cartilaginous tissue), the pulpous core gradually loses water and dries up. This leads to a loss of elasticity and cracking of the fibrous ring of the disc, a decrease in its height, but the process does not go beyond it. As a rule, there are no symptoms at this stage of osteochondrosis development, although it is possible to treat this disease at first rather effectively.

At the second stage, spinal instability develops. Due to the decrease in the height of the disc, adjacent vertebrae approach each other, which leads to sagging of the muscles and ligaments of the spine, as a result, the pathological mobility of the vertebrae develops, they slip off each other( spondylolisthesis).It is at this stage of osteochondrosis that patients often seek medical help in connection with the pain syndrome in the back.

In the third stage, the most pronounced morphological changes develop, and the previously diagnosed osteochondrosis is detected at this stage almost in 100% of cases. This stage is characterized by the development of complications such as protrusion and disc herniation. In the pathological process, the facet joints of the spine are involved, with the formation of subluxations in them.

At the final stage of development of osteochondrosis adaptive changes take place - the body tries to somehow stabilize the pathological mobility, which is revealed in the growth of marginal osteophytes, which eventually completely immobilize the spine. This leads to the development of ankylosis and pathological curvature of the vertebral column.

stages of osteochondrosis
Morphological changes at all stages of osteochondrosis

Symptoms of the disease

Symptoms of osteochondrosis are very different. This disease can be masked under any pathology - and angina, and neuralgia, renal colic, etc. The signs of osteochondrosis depend primarily on the localization of the pathological process.

Cervical osteochondrosis

The main signs of cervical osteochondrosis are a headache that starts from the occiput and extends to the temporomandibular region. The pain is permanent, intensified when the head turns to the sides or tilts.

Often a complication of cervical osteochondrosis, whose treatment is mandatory, is the syndrome of the vertebral artery. In this case, the blood supply to the brain is broken, which in some cases can result in even a stroke.

A frequent companion of cervical osteochondrosis is dizziness, which increases or appears with sudden movements in the neck. There may be pain in the shoulder girdle or shoulder joint, which has to be differentiated from arthrosis, arthritis and other joint diseases.

Permanent dizziness and headache may indicate degenerative changes in the cervical spine

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic region

The main symptom of the thoracic region is pain syndrome. Pain can be constant and aching( thoracology) or acute in the form of a lumbago( thoracago).Localization of soreness depends on the level of pathological changes. Pain can be given from the back and the front of the chest wall.

Often breast osteochondrosis simulates angina pectoris. There are stitching pains or prolonged aching in the region of the heart. Unlike angina pectoris, they are not associated with physical and emotional stress, they are not removed by such drugs as nitrates.

Also, chest osteochondrosis can simulate diseases of the digestive tract - gastritis, pancreatitis, cholecystitis, etc.

Osteochondrosis of lumbar

The main manifestation of lumbar osteochondrosis is pain syndrome. Pain can be chronic aching( lumbargia) or acute and short-term( lumbago).Pain with lumbar osteochondrosis renders in one or two legs on the posterior surface, possibly the lower extremities.

Lumbar osteochondrosis can mimic urolithiasis, some gynecological diseases and even acute surgical pathology, for example, acute appendicitis.

Video about the causes, mechanisms of development, symptoms and consequences of osteochondrosis:

How to establish a diagnosis?

It is possible to suspect osteochondrosis from a patient's complaints, an anamnesis of the disease, an anamnesis of life( detection of risk factors for osteochondrosis), objective examination and neurological examination.

The diagnosis can be confirmed by radiography( a decrease in the height of the discs, pathological bends of the spine, growth of osteophytes, subluxations in the joints of the spine, spondylolisthesis, spondylosis, spondylarthrosis).An irreplaceable method in the diagnosis of complications such as protrusion and herniated disc is magnetic resonance imaging. Also use CT and ultrasound. There are no specific laboratory changes for osteochondrosis.

Principles of treatment

We also recommend reading:
KONDRONOVA Ointment for treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical department of

Treatment of osteochondrosis is a difficult and almost impossible task, it is necessary to approach it only in a complex way. Drug therapy is used only for exacerbation and development of pain syndrome. In such cases, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-edematous therapy is used. They also use medicines that eliminate muscular spasm of skeletal muscles and drugs that improve the blood supply to the tissues of the spine, restore cartilaginous tissue.

The basis of treatment is non-drug methods that should be used in a comprehensive and regular manner:

  • medical gymnastics;
  • manual therapy;
  • massage and self-massage;
  • laser therapy;
  • acupuncture;
  • physiotherapy treatment( magnetotherapy, electrophoresis, ultrasound treatment, balneotherapy).
exercises to strengthen the back
Complex of gymnastic exercises for strengthening the muscles of the back with osteochondrosis

When complications develop, surgical treatment is used - neurosurgical operations on the spine. Modern technologies allow carrying out even endoprosthetics of a damaged disc on artificial endoprostheses.

If you do not want to suffer from back pain and other symptoms of osteochondrosis, then prevention is your help. Do not forget to avoid the risk factors of this pathology, lead an active lifestyle, monitor the hygiene of your work.

  • Reasons for
  • Symptoms of
  • How to establish a diagnosis?
  • Treatment of