Osteochondrosis is a disease in which degenerative dystrophy occurs in spinal tissue. Damage to the intervertebral disc, adjacent joint surfaces, vertebral bodies, and ligament devices. Usually, osteochondrosis begins with pathological changes in bones and ligaments. Moreover, he can only guess the onset of the disease when he begins to suffer from the complications of the disease-back pain, reduced sensitivity, muscle atrophy and internal organ dysfunction.
This disease is common in modern people: According to various sources, as many as 90% of the world’s population suffers from osteochondrosis. Basically, this disease affects people who are already 30 years old. Today, lumbar osteochondrosis is most often found (about half of the cases).
Stages of osteochondrosis
This disease gradually develops in the body. In the first stage of disease development, the process of nucleus pulposus dehydration begins. As a result, the reduced height of the intervertebral disc is reduced, and cracks are formed in the annulus. However, no pathological changes will occur outside the disc.
In the second stage, the fusion of two adjacent vertebrae is observed due to the reduction in the height of the intervertebral disc (ie the attachment point of the muscles and ligaments). Due to the sagging of ligaments and muscles, excessive movement of the vertebrae occurs, which causes the development of instability of the vertebral motion segments. During this period, the vertebrae may slip or shift, and a spondylolisthesis may be formed.
The third stage of the development of osteochondrosis is characterized by significant changes in the morphology of the intervertebral disc. Intervertebral disc herniation and herniation occur, and the intervertebral joints and non-intervertebral joints develop subluxation.
At the beginning of the fourth stage, adaptive changes were observed in the affected vertebrae. In this case, the human body will adapt to excessive vertebral mobility and overcome it. Due to the fixation of the spine, osteophytes-the marginal bone growth on the adjacent surfaces of the vertebral body appeared. Osteophytes can damage nerve roots. Fibrous changes in the intervertebral discs and joints occur gradually. As a result, a kind of shell is formed on the motion segment of the vertebral body, and its performance gradually disappears.
Causes of osteochondrosis
Experts make different assumptions about the causes of the development of osteochondrosis. These reasons are known as mechanical damage to the spine, disorders of the body's metabolic processes, and susceptibility to genetic diseases. However, due to the prevalence of the disease, it is difficult to determine the clear cause of the disease development. It is common in young and old; people who are physically strong and less trained.
Sometimes you hear the opinion that the symptoms of osteochondrosis are caused by salt deposits in the human spine. If the patient hears crunching and crunching sounds in the joints, they usually report salt deposits. In fact, the disease develops due to tissue malnutrition. As a result, their structure is gradually reborn. Bone and cartilage tissues are constantly updated. If a person does proper physical exercise on a regular basis, the organization will become more resilient. However, for those who are accustomed to a sedentary lifestyle, this fabric is less durable.In addition, overweight, poor posture, unfavorable environmental conditions, postural characteristics at work, unbalanced musculoskeletal system development, pregnancy, stress, hypothermia, and infection may be the cause of osteochondrosis.
Therefore, the range of factors that cause disease development is very wide. The particularity of blood flow and the nutrition of cartilage and bone tissue play an important role in this process. There are no blood vessels in the intervertebral discs of adults, so the intervertebral discs absorb oxygen and all necessary nutrients from adjacent tissues. Therefore, for the normal nutrition of the spinal disc, the blood circulation in the surrounding tissues must be continuously activated. This process can be accelerated by providing active muscle work.
Symptoms of osteochondrosis
The manifestation of the disease can vary and directly depends on the stage of development of the disease. The symptoms of the disease are most obvious when the pathological process spreads to the posterior part of the annulus fibrosus and the posterior longitudinal ligament. In the process of activating the pathological process, patients will develop reflex and oppressive neurosis.
Osteochondrosis can manifest in various parts of the body, so the symptoms of the disease are very extensive. Patients with osteochondrosis may experience pain or numbness in their limbs, sometimes chest pain, dysfunction of the reproductive organs, and headaches. At the same time, one does not even know that the cause of this manifestation is osteochondrosis.
If the patient has thoracic osteochondrosis, the symptoms may be similar to heart disease: angina pectoris, myocardial infarction. This is why sometimes using the wrong treatment can lead to further development of osteochondrosis. Therefore, if you suspect the development of this disease, please consult a doctor immediately and conduct the necessary research.
Osteochondrosis is mainly manifested as back pain and severe discomfort. In some cases, the pain occurs intermittently and intermittently. It may disappear for a while. But for everyone, the occurrence of pain should be a very disturbing symptom and deserves attention. It is important to consider and determine what is causing the pain. For example, this might be an intense physical exercise, lifting weights.
The next indicative symptom of cervical osteochondrosis is numbness in the arms and legs, and their pain. Other types of osteochondrosis have similar symptoms. In most cases, the pain occurs in the left leg or arm, and sometimes radiates to the heart under the ribs. If such symptoms occur, you should not rush to take medicine for heart disease or other diseases, but should listen carefully and evaluate the nature of the pain. The degree of pain depends on the patient's current behavior. All their observations should be informed to the doctor in detail, and then massage, gymnastics and other treatments should be prescribed for the patient. Contacting experts in the early stages of the disease will provide more effective treatment.
Therefore, in most cases, patients diagnosed with osteochondrosis complain of spinal discomfort in different places, with different pain intensity and characteristics. Their fatigue is higher, which is manifested in both physical and mental work. Sensitivity can be impaired in different parts of the body, most commonly the limbs. In addition, patients may notice cold hands and feet. The manifestations of cervical osteochondrosis are usually dizziness and headache. Vision may also decrease significantly.
If the patient has lumbar osteochondrosis, in this case, a variety of human reproductive system diseases may occur. After treating osteochondrosis in the lumbar region, men usually find that its performance improves. At the same time, if women develop osteochondrosis, this will complicate pregnancy and the pregnancy process. In addition to these symptoms, osteochondrosis may also have other manifestations: muscle cramps, difficulty in exercise, shooting pain, etc.
Diagnosis of osteochondrosis
During the diagnosis process, the doctor will consider the patient’s age and the development of symptoms. To clarify the diagnosis, other methods were used for research. In this case, X-ray inspection is usually performed. To determine the patient's condition, the spine was radiographed. If there are more specific discomforts, targeted radiography is performed for the lesion.
Myelography is considered a relatively difficult diagnostic method. The test involves injecting contrast agent into the spinal canal. In this case, there is a risk of spinal cord injury and allergic reactions. But at the same time, if it is necessary to determine whether there is spinal hernia, this method is considered to be of reference value.
In addition, a computed tomography technique was used for nuclear magnetic resonance. However, they are relatively expensive, so they are mainly practiced when a differential diagnosis is required and to determine the presence of spinal tumors.
Treatment of osteochondrosis
In order for spinal osteochondrosis to be effective, it is not only necessary to provide an accurate diagnosis, but also a comprehensive approach to solve the problem. Usually, doctors will prescribe treatments based on the affected spine. The main treatment methods for cervical spine, thoracic spine and lumbar spine are massage, manual treatment, acupuncture, electrical stimulation, gymnastics treatment, vacuum treatment, traction and other methods. It can also be treated concurrently with folk remedies.
The doctor prescribes treatments in a way that ensures that the symptoms that bother the patient and the cause of the pathology of the spine are eliminated. Through the use of physical therapy methods, medications to relieve pain. In addition, special exercises were performed on osteochondrosis of the spine.
Physiotherapy exercises are one of the main methods for the treatment of spinal osteochondrosis and other musculoskeletal diseases. For this purpose, special rehabilitation equipment is used. By regularly performing exercises individually selected by experts, you can improve blood circulation and activate metabolism. As a result, the nutrition of the intervertebral disc is improved, and the load on the spine is reduced.
The method of physical therapy involves the influence of various physical factors on the body. With the help of low-frequency current, magnetic field, and laser, pain is effectively relieved, inflammation is reduced, and concurrent medication is more effective. With massage, you can relieve muscle tension and pain and activate blood circulation. Manual therapy can relieve acute and persistent chronic pain in the joints and spine, increase the range of motion, and also have a positive effect on the body. Spinal traction procedures are used to relieve severe pain. It is executed on special equipment. During this process, the intervertebral space increases and the shape of the spine is restored. Drug treatment is mainly carried out during the exacerbation of the disease.
But in most cases, even effective treatment can only slow down the progression of the disease and prevent it from getting worse. Only in the initial stage of osteochondrosis is it possible to fully recover. It is important to consider that the duration of treatment depends on the degree of progression of the disease, the method of treatment, and the degree of seriousness the patient completes all the doctor’s prescriptions and recommendations. Usually, the period of active treatment lasts one to three months. After the operation, a person recovers for about a year. If conservative treatment fails to bring the expected results and there are special indications, the doctor will prescribe surgery.
People who have already suffered from osteochondrosis should try to avoid overloading the spine and minimize the pressure on the intervertebral disc. It is recommended to keep your back straight at all times to avoid injury to the spine. It is important to sleep one night in a comfortable bed: you need to choose a separate orthopedic mattress. You should not lift objects weighing more than 10 kg, and to lift objects, you must first sit down, pick up the objects, and then stand up. Women should not wear high heels. In addition, people who complain of low back pain should do muscle strengthening exercises every day. It is recommended to swim if possible.