Cervical osteochondrosis: symptoms and treatment

Osteochondrosis generally refers to degenerative changes in any articular cartilage. Therefore, this pathological condition can occur in all joints of the musculoskeletal system. However, the most obvious symptoms, such as headaches and headaches, as well as heart disease, are observed in the case of cervical osteochondrosis, which is damage to the cartilage tissue between the vertebrae of the cervical spine.

According to WHO statistics, about 60% of Europeans suffer from osteochondrosis to one degree or another. In men, the disease manifests itself about 10 years earlier than in women. Representatives of the more assertive sex face symptoms around the age of 45 years. Half of the women are 55-60 years old. At the same time, experts are concerned about the continued rejuvenation of the disease. If you do not take timely measures, then literally in the next decade, the number of 30-year-old patients with osteochondrosis will increase significantly.

Causes of osteochondrosis

The need for proper posture

Dysfunction changes in the pulp occur for a variety of reasons. The natural aging of cartilage tissue should be placed in the first place, which, unfortunately, is an objective and irresistible condition. However, as mentioned above, the disease is getting younger, which is no longer associated with aging, but for other reasons.

In young patients, the disease occurs due to metabolic disorders associated, as a rule, with poor diet. The reduced fat and vitamin content in the diet is the reason that cartilage begins to "starve" literally and develop dystrophy.

Another provoking factor is physical inactivity. Read the forums where people with the disease communicate, and you will see that most of them are still young people, who are, usually, engaged in mental work, which involves long sitting positions. Low motor activity of the cervical vertebrae causes loss of cartilage elasticity in the intervertebral disc.

As a result of malnutrition and related metabolic disorders, as well as due to physical inactivity, the pulp begins to deteriorate, becoming denser. In the final stages of osteochondrosis, complications arise, which manifest themselves in the replacement of cartilage tissue and thickening of the intervertebral disc. This leads to compression of the nerve roots and blood vessels found here. Involvement of elements of the nervous and vascular systems in pathological processes determines the specific course of osteochondrosis.

Specific disease

The difficulty of dealing with this disease lies in its late diagnosis, which is explained by the disguise of osteochondrosis under other pathologies. People waste valuable time and do not treat this pathology, because they are unaware of its presence. And patients should not be blamed for this. If the pressure rises, then we treat hypertension. The heart is stabbed - we go to cardiology. The head hurts periodically, and now one cannot sleep without ibuprofen or analgin. We do not even have to see a neurologist.

In the meantime, just a few visits to this profile specialist will allow you to begin the process of restoring the cartilage of each cervical vertebrae, which will gradually eliminate false hypertension, and suspicion of angina pectoris, and persistent headaches, and other symptomsin relation to the state of the back cervical shoulder region, it seems we, do not seem to be connected.Timely detection of pathology will prevent further pulp dystrophy and allow you to treat osteochondrosis at home and outpatiently - without hospitalization. Unfortunately, most patients turn to neuropathologists who already have fairly severe lesions on the intervertebral disc - when the neck begins to ache uncontrollably.

Narrowing of the intervertebral space on x-rays

Diagnostic Method

Diagnostics of osteochondrosis is a complex work. This research takes a long time, but the cost is justified, as early treatment of the disease can prevent the worst-case scenario - surgery to replace an oxidized intervertebral disc, in which the pinched nerve root is removed and a full-function implant or medium-height compensator is installed. discarded spinal elements. What type of solution is needed for a particular patient is determined by the orthopedist after a thorough diagnosis.

Since the disease, as shown above, is covered, it is first necessary to ensure that the symptoms are not related to problems in other organs. For example, in the event of a heart attack, you will need to undergo a heart examination and confirm the absence of heart disease. Comprehensive diagnostics will make it possible not only to confirm the suspicion of osteochondrosis, but also to find out the general condition of the body along the way.

The final diagnosis is made based on the results of X-ray examination of the cervical spine in frontal and lateral projections. A more informative method is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It allows you to determine the localization of dystrophy changes more accurately. Thanks to this, doctors have the opportunity to prescribe treatment literally.

Treatment with folk remedies at home

The advantage of osteochondrosis, if the word is used at all in this case, is that the patient can be treated at home, without mandatory hospital treatment. Courses of treatment include taking special medications and doing exercises from exercise therapy complexes.

Medications (types) used for the treatment of osteochondrosis at home are shown in the following table.

Painkillers In most cases, these are tablets, sometimes capsules. These funds are designed to relieve pain in the cervical spine.
Anti-inflammatory Hormonal drugs that stop the inflammatory process due to changes in the intervertebral cartilage. Also relieves pain.
Chondroprotectors Drugs that contain components for the recovery of cartilage tissue, such as hyaluronic acid. Designed for long term use.
Muscle relax Means to relieve muscle tension. This medicine is taken only under the supervision of a doctor. Use is limited due to the extensive list of contraindications.
External Ointments, gels and so on. Anti-inflammatory, analgesic and warming are used. Before using these funds, you should consult a specialist.
Vitamin Preparations with vitamins that increase nerve fiber conductivity and function of the peripheral nervous system in general. These are group B vitamins, as well as A and C. In some cases, vitamin D is prescribed.

It should be noted thatlisting the types of our drug products does not give a reason for self-treatment. Specific agents with dosage indications and taking into account pathogenesis in each individual case can only be prescribed by a certified neurologist. Adhering to television commercials without thinking "recommending" the best medicine for osteochondrosis is not met with the cure of this disease, but, on the contrary, with a worsening condition. BE CAREFUL!

Injection therapy

In the treatment of osteochondrosis, along with taking pills and using ointments, injections of medicine are used. There are various types of drugs for injection. The course of treatment includes all types of injections, including the following:

The doctor gave an injection to the neck
  • subkutan;
  • intramuscular;
  • intravenous;
  • epidural.

Injections are more effective than oral medications and all types of folk remedies. Blood flow quickly sends the agent to the sore spot, which explains the effect of rapid healing. For example, with an epidural injection, the drugs are injected directly into the spinal cord and begin to act immediately.

Vitamins and other supportive medications are usually injected subcutaneously. Anti-inflammatory drugs and chondroprotectors are injected intramuscularly. For example, an injection ofanti-inflammatory drug, which is so popular among patients, is made into muscle tissue. Drugs that accelerate brain circulation are injected intravenously. This is necessary in the case of squeezing an oversized intervertebral disc from a blood vessel, where blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Epidural injections are performed with the aim of suppressing severe pain when other painkillers are ineffective. With this injection, the needle passes through the vertebral process and delivers the anesthetic directly to the spinal cord. This procedure is performed only by a trained professional anesthesiologist.

Injections are effective only on the basis of regular exercise in medical gymnastics. That is, the administration of medication alone is not sufficient for the complete treatment of osteochondrosis. Only in combination with exercise therapy it is possible to relieve the symptoms of the disease, and in the future, to restore the affected cartilage tissue.

What to do during exacerbations?

Although cervical spine osteochondrosis occurs chronically and is more or less visible for long periods of time, sometimes patients experience exacerbations. In each patient, they occur at different intervals, and can occur unexpectedly. During that period, it is important to take timely measures to avoid significant deterioration of the situation.

Providers Exacerbation

Exacerbations in osteochondrosis, like other diseases, do not occur, as they say, suddenly. Usually, the acute condition is provoked by the following factors:

  • pressure;
  • non-professional massage;
  • weather phenomena;
  • a visit to the hot spring bath (sauna);
  • excessive physical activity after prolonged physical inactivity.

In women, osteochondrosis is often exacerbated during menstruation. Alcohol abuse is also a provoking factor.

Symptoms of deterioration

The symptomatology of exacerbation of osteochondrosis in each patient presents itself differently and is determined by the general clinical picture of the pathogenesis. For example,cervical and headaches in acute conditions are observed by all patients, and loss of sensitivity to numbness on the face during exacerbation is not felt by everyone, but, nevertheless, it is common. And, of course, during this period, the symptoms of diseases in which osteochondrosis is disguised are exacerbated. These are heart disease, dizziness, tinnitus, hot flashes and so on. Exacerbations are very dangerous, where inflammation of the cervical spine occurs.

Help steps for exacerbation

During severe osteochondrosis, you must see a doctor first. There is no need to ignore this rule, as delays in this matter can be detrimental. The neurologist will assess the patient's condition and recommend measures for an effective and important way out of the crisis.

Usually, during acute conditions with osteochondrosis, injections of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed. But gymnastics during this period must be interrupted. Instead, the patient must calm down. Unacceptable kneading of the neck - this can worsen the situation. It is recommended to move the cramps in the supine position and fix the head at the same time, placing a roller or at least a rolled piece under it.

An important place in reducing the frequency of exacerbations is played by its prevention, which is influential in maintaining a proper motor regime in daily life.A patient with osteochondrosis should monitor body posture, keep his head straight, avoid sudden movements. In humid and cold weather, it is necessary to protect the cervical vertebrae from hypothermia. And, of course, you can’t forget medical gymnastics for a minute - you have to do it regularly. This is the key to the journey of osteochondrosis without exacerbation.

2 degrees of disease

Neuropathologists distinguish 3 degrees of osteochondrosis - 1, 2 and 3, respectively. In the majority of patients, the disease is noted in the second stage. This is due to the following. 1 degree disease is characterized by the appearance of short-term pain in the neck, resembling an electrical discharge. In the early stages, the fibrous ring, which holds the middle part of the intervertebral disc, begins to collapse. Guidelines for the diagnosis of osteochondrosis class 1 are pupil dilation, which are not associated with other phenomena in the body.

The number of patients with grade 1 osteochondrosis is not very large. The disease at this stage is temporary, and can be eliminated (with timely treatment), or quickly enters the second phase - if time is delayed. The condition in the number of patients with grade 3 osteochondrosis is similar. It is also small. This is due to the fact that often doctors successfully begin treatment on time and prevent the pathological transition from the second stage to the third stage. This stage of the disease is characterized by symptoms such as acute neck pain, which does not subside even when taking painkillers, partial loss of upper limb control, persistent dizziness, and frequent fainting. Grade 3 osteochondrosis is treated, as a rule, with surgery, because drug therapy is often ineffective.

As a large number of patients suffer from stage 2 osteochondrosis, this form of the disease is very interesting from a clinical point of view, and in the treatment of this disease at this stage, the greatest experience has accumulated. According to statistics, the proportion of patients with stage II osteochondrosis among all patients with this pathology is about 75%.

The specificity of this form of the disease is its chronic disease with a rapid duration.The second degree differs from the first degree by the constant decrease of space between the vertebrae. That is, the intervertebral disc has not collapsed, as in the third stage, but becomes thinner, which causes pinching of the nerve root and causes all the classic symptoms of osteochondrosis.

Since level 2 pathology is the most widespread, talking about the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis in general, they imply the implementation of therapeutic measures related to this form of the disease. And they, we repeat, include drug therapy and physiotherapy training. Properly treated treatment allows you to eliminate the disease and prevent its transition to the third stage with almost inevitable surgery to replace the intervertebral disc.

Key symptoms and proper treatment

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is difficult to diagnose degenerative lesions in the intervertebral disc. It is most often found in people aged 45-50 years, but in recent years the pathology has been “rejuvenated” and now neuropathologists often see patients in their 30s.

The difficulty in detecting osteochondrosis is explained by the nature of "simulating" the course of the disease - when it disguises itself as another pathology. The cause of this disease is a deterioration of the elasticity of cartilage tissue, which forms the dull pulp between the vertebrae. Cartilage becomes thinner and denser. As a result, the nerve root is compressed (called a radicular violation), which causes the following symptoms:

  • headaches and headaches;
  • increased blood pressure;
  • decreased sensitivity of the facial area (until numbness);
  • paresis of the upper limbs.

All of these symptoms are of course accompanied by pain in the neck. Often this pain is mild and does not force the patient to take pain medication. Ignoring a slight pain in the neck, the patient does not worry about osteochondrosis, but tries to treat other pathologies, for example, angina pectoris or hypertension, which he most likely does not suffer from.

Methods of treatment

According to modern approaches, osteochondrosis occurs in waves. At first, it manifests itself as deterioration (acute period). Then the symptomatology weakens and the subacute period enters. The third stage is forgiveness, a state that lasts until the next deterioration. The task of treating osteochondrosis is to quickly stop the acute phase, alleviate the patient's condition in the subacute period and ensure long-term remission.

During the acute and subacute phases, patients take painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs. At this stage, an effective solution is the use of Shants neck-gauze collar, which gives the head a position where the neck muscles relax, which relieves pain. During the remission period, drug treatment with chondroprotectors that improve cartilage tissue quality, and a set of physical exercise training therapies are indicated. Exercise is more important than hyaluronic acid injections because healthy physical activity stimulates the formation of collagen fibers in cartilage naturally.

Types of cervicalothoracic pathology

Speaking formally, cervical and thoracic osteochondrosis are two different forms of the disease. However, they are often combined. This is due to the fact that the cervical and thoracic spine are closed to each other, which connects these two types of pathology of this intervertebral disc. That is, with dystrophic changes in the cervical vertebrae, a similar violation is observed in the thoracic region. Thus, the two forms of the disease are combined, mainly because their symptoms are very similar to each other. The main symptom is pain. With cervical ostechondrosis, pain is localized in the neck, in the case of cervicotoractic lesions, pain in the sternum is added to them.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • numb face;
  • headaches and headaches;
  • blood pressure instability;
  • hard tinnitus.

In the event of damage to the thoracic vertebrae, this list is supplemented with movement coordination disorders, activation of arthrosis of the shoulder joint, numbness of the hands.

Cervical spine treatment

Treatment is prescribed after a thorough diagnosis using X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Treatment of osteochondrosis is complex - medicine and physiotherapy. Drug therapy involves the use of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs.An important part of treatment is the use of chondroprotectors that directly restore cartilage tissue in the intervertebral space. Physiotherapy measures include compression and application of all types of ointments, as well as physiotherapy exercises.

If osteochondrosis is detected in the thoracic spine, a professional massage is indicated. The effect of massage triggers the natural process of regrowth of cartilage tissue. Massage is more effective in relieving pain in the thoracic vertebrae than gymnastics, because the spine in this place is not flexible, and therefore, during exercise, it is not always possible to provide normal movement to the individual vertebrae. A massage therapist, on the other hand, can have a direct effect on a diseased intervertebral disc. You just need to contact a spine massage specialist who has the appropriate certificate. Also, massage therapists must be licensed.

Timely steps to eliminate cervical osteochondrosis will allow surgery to prevent the replacement of a damaged intervertebral disc with endoprosthesis. Early diagnosis of pathology and discipline in outpatient treatment with medicines and folk remedies will save you money. If you have a slight suspicion of osteochondrosis, see a neurologist. But better. . .

Make sure you see a doctor before treating the disease. This will help to take into account individual tolerance, confirm the diagnosis, ensure proper treatment and exclude negative drug interactions. If you use a prescription without consulting a doctor, then that is your own risk. All information is provided for informational purposes only and is not a medical aid. All responsibility for the application rests with you.