The most common cause of upper and middle back pain is cervicothoracic osteochondrosis. And while this slowly progressing pathology is not fatal, it significantly worsens a person's quality of life and, in some cases, can cause disability. And only the maximum possible elimination of the factors that lead to irregular pressure on the movement segments of the spine can slow down the irreversible processes of biological aging and thus alleviate the condition.
Causes of degenerative spinal injuries
Osteochondrosis of the cervicothoracic region is a multifactorial pathology of the intervertebral discs that connect 7 cervical and 12 thoracic vertebrae. The most common causes of degenerative changes are:
- gravity (center of gravity shift and axial load redistribution)
- prolonged work in a forced position
- autoimmune diseases
- spinal overload associated with pathologies of the musculoskeletal system (deformities, flat feet)
- infectious and inflammatory processes in nearby structures
- metabolic disorders
- hereditary anomalies in connective tissue development
- traumatic injuries
- excessive static or dynamic loads
- hormonal imbalance
Provoking an exacerbation of osteochondrosis in men and women can be stress, prolonged nervous tension, malnutrition, hypothermia.
Symptoms of Osteochondrosis of the Cervical and Thoracic Spine
Degenerative processes in the affected intervertebral discs are accompanied by syndromes of local pain and referred pain. Due to a violation of the blood supply to the brain, patients complain of headache, dizziness, "flies" before the eyes, pain in the shoulder or in the entire upper limb, in the intercostal and interscapular region. There is discomfort, tingling in the neck, chest, abdomen, periodic painful pulsation in the ear or temple, pain when coughing and sneezing.
After a long stay in a forced position, a feeling of tightness arises. Cervicothoracic osteochondrosis often occurs with typical cardiac symptoms, which greatly complicates the diagnosis. Among the additional signs, it should be highlighted numbness of certain areas of the skin, rupture of the digestive tract, increased pain with deep breaths, shortness of breath in the supine position.
Stages of Osteochondrosis
The pathological process has 4 stages of development:
I - edema and movement of pulp substance inside the disc, irritation of peripheral nerve endings. Cervical and thoracic low back pain occurs in the context of physical activity
II - cracking of the annulus fibrosus, violation of the fixation between the vertebral bodies, instability of the vertebral segments. Accompanied by constant muscle tension, functional blocks, mobility limitation
III - rupture of the disc membrane and protrusion of the nucleus pulposus (hernia). The neurological syndromes of root compression are manifested by reflex prolapse, weakness, atrophy, disturbance of sensitivity in the zone of innervation. II - cracking of the annulus fibrosus, impaired fixation between the vertebral bodies, instability of the vertebral segments. Accompanied by constant muscle tension, functional blocks, mobility limitation
IV - degenerative lesion of all components of the intervertebral symphysis. Due to disc mineralization and compaction, arthrosis of the facet joints develops and mobility in the affected area is significantly limited.
Diagnosis of vertebrogenic pathology is carried out in a complex, including:
- collection of vital and pathological anamnesis
- physical examination in static position
- diagnostic tests (study of active and passive movement disorders)
- determination of neurological status
- Plain radiograph of two projections of the spine
In a professional clinic, when diagnosing various dorsopathies, MRI is performed in combination with manual testing. The combined use of these methods provides complete information about the location of areas of discogenic disorders, the structure and metabolic activity of cells, the status of all soft tissue components.
Which doctor to contact
A neurologist treats patients with vertebrogenic disorders. Also, you may need the help of a chiropractor, spine surgeon.
How to treat cervicothoracic osteochondrosis
Treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical and thoracic spine includes:
- medication for pain, swelling, and inflammation
- manual therapy
- massage and self-massage;
- physiotherapeutic procedures (UVI, electrophoresis, laser, magnetotherapy, DDT)
- physical therapy exercises
- corset, recording
- post-isometric relaxation
If osteochondrosis is complicated by an intervertebral hernia, a surgical operation is recommended for the patient.
An indifferent attitude to health and neglect of medical recommendations can lead to the active progression of the pathological process and the development of various reflex and compressive syndromes:
- chronic cervicocranialgia and chest pain (headaches emanating from the cervico-occipital region, pain in the thoracic region)
- limiting head tilt in the direction opposite to the injury
- upper extremity vegetative disorders
- sensation problems in hands and fingers
- internal organ dysfunction
- partial immobilization of the spine
Prevention of cervicothoracic osteochondrosis
To minimize the impact of negative factors, it is recommended to regularly perform exercises aimed at strengthening the muscular framework. It is very important during long-term monotonous work to monitor your posture, change your body position more often, avoid large-amplitude movements, and protect yourself from hypothermia and drafts.