Osteochondrosis is a concept used to denote a group of diseases associated with degenerative and dystrophic changes in spinal structures. First, the intervertebral discs suffer and, as the disease develops, the vertebrae themselves. Degenerative are changes associated with tissue wear processes, aging, loss of original and dystrophic properties - changes caused by nutritional tissue disorders. Thus, the term osteochondrosis encompasses most of the pathologies of the spine of a non-inflammatory nature.<1_img_leftxx>
The spine forms the backbone of the skeleton, connecting the various parts of the skeletal system. It supports the head, ribs and muscles are attached to it. The spinal cord passes through the spinal column, through which the brain is connected to various parts of our body. Man is the only bipedal creature in the world, and the spine is designed to provide bipedal locomotion. Therefore, the spine has a curved shape, reminiscent of the letter S in the Latin alphabet and is not a rigid rod, but a complex structure composed of united elements - vertebrae. This structure of the spine allows us to make various movements, be flexible and absorb shocks and shocks. The function of the shock absorbers is performed by the intervertebral discs - cartilaginous layers constituted by the nucleus pulposus and the fibrous ring that surrounds it. The core takes the charge and absorbs it, and the fiber ring prevents the core from applying under pressure.
A decrease in the elasticity of the intervertebral discs can become the beginning of a wide range of problems. Unable to support the load, the intervertebral discs begin to deform, the spine loses its correct shape. The progression of the disease leads to further destruction of the intervertebral discs, the fibrous ring breaks, the vertebrae come into strong contact with each other, it becomes possible to pinch the nerves that connect the spinal cord with various parts of the body. This is how osteochondrosis develops. Intervertebral hernias occur and inflammation often occurs. Deprived of shock absorption, the vertebrae can flatten out, and together their joints form scarring and bony growths.
Osteochondrosis is one of the most common diseases. Only cardiovascular disease is more common. By some estimates, every second inhabitant of the planet suffers from osteochondrosis. Osteochondrosis is more common in women, but in men its manifestations are, on average, more painful.<2_img_rightxx>
What is osteochondrosis
Osteochondrosis affects several parts of the spine. Depending on which department suffered the most, there are:
- lumbar osteochondrosis - occurs more frequently;
- cervical - ranks second in "popularity";
- generalized osteochondrosis, in which several parts of the spine are affected at the same time;
- cross pathologies (lumbosacral or cervicothoracic).
Causes of osteochondrosis
The causes of osteochondrosis are quite diverse.
First, with age, the elasticity of the intervertebral discs is gradually lost. That means our backs need special attention. Staying for a long time in a position that causes the spine to lean can cause irreversible changes. You should avoid sitting in an asymmetrical position, fighting the habit of lying on your side, carrying a load (eg a bag) in just one hand.
A sedentary lifestyle has a detrimental effect on your spine health. It is necessary to move, however, physical activity must be moderate. The spine must have the opportunity to recover from the load and it is also advisable to avoid injuries that also lead to the development of spinal pathologies.
The second group of reasons is associated with metabolic disorders and malnutrition. Foods high in carbohydrates and fats saturate the body with calories, which we, in our sedentary city life, often simply have nowhere to spend; as a result, energy is deposited in the form of adipose tissue, generating excess weight. Obesity is an increase in the load on the spine, which leads to the development of osteochondrosis. In addition, this diet usually contains an insufficient amount of trace elements (calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and others), which are so necessary to strengthen the bone tissue. Excess weight is often caused by endocrine disorders. At the same time, a violation of energy, water or mineral metabolism can also negatively affect the tissues involved in the structure of the spine.
Factors that contribute to the development of osteochondrosis can be:
- flat foot;
- hormonal changes;
- infectious diseases;
- local circulatory disorders,
as well as some other factors.
In the early stage of osteochondrosis, there are no pronounced symptoms. It is possible to assume the development of osteochondrosis in the case of:
- nagging pain in the back (in the affected area of the spine);
- feeling of heaviness in the back, constant tension in the muscles of the spine;
- numbness of muscles, the appearance of "shivers". In such cases, it is said that "the back is numb";
- crunch when turning the body and neck;
- headache, dizziness, tinnitus (typically with cervical osteochondrosis);
- painful pain in the chest region (usually with thoracic osteochondrosis).
At the first appearance of these symptoms, it is advisable to be examined by a neurologist.
The further development of the disease manifests itself in symptoms that carry significant discomfort:
There are severe back pains (along the spine). Pain may radiate to the limb.
Numbness in fingers
A typical manifestation of osteochondrosis is numbness in the fingers and toes.
restriction of motor activity
Even with minimal physical exertion, pain increases (for example, as a result of tremors and jolts when traveling in transport). Pain leads to significant restrictions on mobility and motor activity.
Methods for the diagnosis of osteochondrosis
The main role in the diagnosis of osteochondrosis belongs to instrumental studies: radiography, computed tomography, magnetic resonance.
It may be necessary to confirm that the symptoms observed are not caused by other medical conditions. For differential diagnosis purposes, a general and biochemical blood test, a general urine test, and ultrasound examinations of internal organs are performed.
X-rays are taken of the problem areas of the spine. The department that needs to be examined is determined based on the patient's complaints.
Computed tomography (CT)
Computed tomography (CTMF) allows us to obtain a more informative picture of the pathological processes and to determine the degree of their severity. In particular, the MSCT makes it possible to detect an intervertebral hernia.
Computed tomography is performed when X-ray data is insufficient.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic resonance imaging is the most informative method for diagnosing osteochondrosis. In some cases (for example, with suspected osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine), MRI cannot be dispensed with. Magnetic resonance imaging allows the visualization of cartilage and soft tissue, from which it is possible to locate the origin of problems as accurately as possible and establish the cause of the disease.
Osteochondrosis Treatment Methods
It is advisable to start osteochondrosis treatment as soon as possible, as pathological changes in the spine are irreversible in most cases. Therefore, treatment is primarily aimed at eliminating pain and preventing the development of the disease.
The course of treatment, as a rule, is complex and is prescribed individually, depending on the patient's condition. The clinic uses for the treatment of osteochondrosis:
First, the treatment is aimed at stopping (eliminating) the pain syndrome. Anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants (drugs that relax muscles) are used.
In addition, in the treatment of osteochondrosis, medications that improve blood circulation, condom protectors (medicines that restore cartilage tissue), vitamin D and calcium preparations are used.
Massage for osteochondrosis relieves muscle tone, stimulates blood flow in the spine and improves metabolic processes. This serves to strengthen the vertebrae and intervertebral discs, suppress inflammation, and reduce pain.
With osteochondrosis, physical therapy methods such as electrophoresis, phonophoresis, UHF, magnetotherapy are used.
Reflexology for osteochondrosis is used as an additional therapeutic method. Acupuncture helps relieve pain, reduce inflammation, normalize blood circulation, and increase the effects of medications used.
Physiotherapy for osteochondrosis is primarily aimed at eliminating pain and restoring spinal mobility. A set of specially selected exercises is used.
As a prevention of osteochondrosis, the clinic's doctors recommend:
- maintain correct posture. Posture is the usual standing body position. Ideally, the head and back should be on the same vertical, the shoulders should be level, the stomach contracted and the chest lifted. Body habit is developed by exercise, so posture should be monitored - don't bend over or bend over;
- lead an active lifestyle, exercise;
- it is useful to hang from a horizontal bar - while the spine is stretched;
- sleep on a hard mattress. It is advisable to purchase an orthopedic mattress and pillow;
- follow a balanced diet, eating foods that contain sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals.