What it is: Osteochondrosis is a spinal disease in which the intervertebral discs (and subsequently the vertebral bodies, joints, and ligaments) lose their ability to function normally. Until recently, the disease was considered age-related, but in recent decades it has become noticeably younger and ruthlessly affects 18-30 year olds.
Osteochondrosis is generally classified according to the location of its location - lumbar, cervical, thoracic, sacral and disseminated. More than 50% of cases of the disease are responsible for osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine; the symptoms, treatment and diagnosis of this type of osteochondrosis are widely described in the works of medical luminaries. A quarter of diagnoses are due to cervical osteochondrosis - a disease that affects office workers and people who lead a sedentary lifestyle.
Most of the time, the pathological processes of this disease affect the bones and ligaments first. We usually find that the disease has already started when complications appear - pain, sensory disturbances, muscle atrophy, rupture of internal organs.
Today we are going to talk about osteochondrosis, the symptoms and treatment of this disease is a very current issue in our time. After all, 40 to 90% of the world's population suffers from the disease. Most of the time, the disease affects people over 30 years old.
There is no single reason for the development of osteochondrosis. Some believe that a disease occurs due to the deposition of calcium compounds not absorbed by the bone tissue due to the deterioration of the bone blood supply caused by weakness, curvature of the spine and shortening of the distance between individual vertebrae.
There are many predisposing causal factors. The main ones are as follows:
- spinal injuries (fractures, bruises, dislocations);
- hereditary predisposition;
- foot diseases that cause spinal overload - include flat feet, clubfoot (varus deformity of the foot), hallux valgus;
- wearing tight, uncomfortable shoes for a long time (they also cause spinal strain);
- overweight and obesity;
- sedentary lifestyle;
- metabolic disorders;
- curvature of the spine (kyphosis, lordosis, scoliosis);
- professional features - weight lifting, frequent turns and body shakes, working in an uncomfortable body position.
The development of the disease is facilitated by an inherited predisposition, spinal overload (overweight, heavy lifting), trauma and microtrauma.
Stages of osteochondrosis
According to the level of development of osteochondrosis and its symptoms, there are four stages.
- First step- pre-clinical, which is rarely diagnosed due to mild (or completely absent) signs of the disease. At this stage, column changes are minimal. Patients are concerned about limited back pain and tension in the back muscles.
- in the second phasepains appear, as the fibrous ring of the intervertebral disc is destroyed, the fixation of the vertebrae to each other is disturbed, and its pathological mobility appears in the form of dislocations. The intervertebral distance decreases, with compression of neurovascular endings, blood and lymphatic vessels.
- third stage. . . A tear is formed in the cartilaginous tissues of the annulus fibrosus, through which more fluid part of the nucleus infiltrates - a herniated intervertebral disc is formed. These changes are most often found in the lumbar and cervical spine. To a lesser degree, the appearance of intervertebral hernias is susceptible to the thoracic region because, as a result of the disc pathology, part of the load is supported by the ribs and sternum. As a result of the protrusion (hernia) of the intervertebral disc, there is an effect on the spinal nerve roots, manifested in the form of pain, inflammation, impaired nerve fiber conduction, and inflammation.
- fourth step- final, in which the scar tissue is replaced by the fibers of the intervertebral disc, as well as the fibrous cartilage and fibrous tissue of the nucleus pulposus.
To prevent the development of the last stage, it is necessary to decide how to treat osteochondrosis in a timely manner.
Osteochondrosis is a chronic disease characterized by alternating periods of symptom exacerbation and remission. Excessive exercise, fatigue, hypothermia, injury, tremors, and vibration can all contribute to acute symptoms.
The disease manifests itself through a series of typical symptoms. Osteochondrosis of the spine is characterized by: back pain, numbness in the affected spine, decreased range of motion, increased pain when lifting weights, sudden movement, tension when coughing or sneezing.
Chronic pain, as one of the symptoms of spinal osteochondrosis, causes increased fatigue. When the nerve roots are compressed by the spinal discs, the pain can be more intense and sharp, of an "acute" nature. Its location, in this case, is not limited to the back region, but is felt by a person in the limb region.
With osteochondrosis, patients describe symptoms such as:
- paroxysmal or sharp pain in the spine affected by osteochondrosis;
- increased pain after physical exertion as well as in the morning;
- pain may radiate to the neck, arm, or leg, as well as the chest;
- crushing sensation when doing twists.
The disease starts and develops gradually, so how to treat osteochondrosis will depend on the stage as well as the location of the vertebral lesion.
In the case of osteochondrosis, treatment requires complex measures.
In the acute phase, complete bed rest is shown, rigid fixation of the damaged vertebrae with a corset or special necklace. Firm bed, use of a shield, limited movement recommended.
To reduce pain, analgesics, B vitamins, novocaine blocks are shown, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, ointments, mustard plasters, ultraviolet irradiation, acupuncture and reflexology, thermal procedures, a wool belt, etc. can be used.
The next step in treatment is to improve local blood circulation and strengthen the muscles that support the spine. To cure osteochondrosis, you must adhere to a complex therapy, which includes:
- medical massage (traditional, hardware, vacuum);
- physiotherapy exercises, swimming;
- physiotherapy (laser treatment, ultrasound, low-frequency currents, magnetic field; shock wave therapy, cryotherapy);
- reflexology (acupuncture, acupressure);
- spinal traction (dry or water);
- non-traditional therapy methods (bee sting treatment);
- treatment with folk remedies (herbs, honey, mustard, red pepper, bath).
If conservative therapy does not bring results or changes in the intervertebral discs require external intervention, modern minimally invasive surgical methods are used: laser reconstruction, intradiscal electrotherapy, microsurgical hernia removal.
In case of irreversible changes, an artificial intervertebral disc made of metal or metal and plastic can be installed. So now let's take a closer look at how to treat osteochondrosis without the use of medications.
Back massage with osteochondrosis has a much more pronounced effect than, say, exercise therapy. First, any treatment method should aim at pain relief.
When the pain can be relieved or relieved, real treatment can begin. But its main task can be called preventing the progression of the disease, as well as its possible subsequent relapses. It is for these purposes that two main methods are used - corrective gymnastics and massage. It is important to note that in cases with the neck, exercise does not have the same effect as massage.
Judge for yourself: Massage improves blood circulation to the affected area, eliminates spasms of neck and back muscles, weakens or eliminates pain, strengthens neck muscles.
Acupuncture is widely used in the treatment of osteochondrosis. Acupuncture helps relieve pain, relaxes back muscles and helps restore damaged tissue by stimulating metabolic processes.
In some cases, acupuncture can replace traditional drug therapy, whose disadvantages are well known (drug side effects, addiction). Acupuncture is contraindicated for skin conditions that affect the back and during pregnancy.
Exercise therapy for osteochondrosis
Corrective gymnastics for people suffering from diseases such as osteochondrosis should become a necessary part of life. It is physical therapy capable of breaking the vicious circle, consisting of the following components: sedentary lifestyle, weakness of the muscles of the back and neck, destruction of the vertebral discs, bed rest.
Before starting to exercise, you should know the basic principles of therapeutic exercises for osteochondrosis:
- Exercises should not be performed during the exacerbation phase of the disease, when severe pain syndrome occurs.
- Exercise should not cause increased pain.
- Complexes with tension in the back muscles should alternate with relaxation complexes.
- All exercises are performed smoothly, without sudden movements, maintaining the correct body posture.
For each type of osteochondrosis, its own exercise complexes have been developed. However, to prevent the spread of the disease, it is recommended to train the muscular system of the entire spine.