To date, the disease has gotten very "younger" and more and more people 25 years and older are exposed to it, although more recently the age of 30 to 35 was considered risky. Cervical part pathologies are more common, so you need to be able to quickly recognize the symptoms of the disease to begin treatment.
So what is called osteochondrosis of the cervical spine? This term characterizes the degenerative-dystophilic process in the intervertebral disc, which acts as a kind of shock absorber between the spinal segments. This situation leads to changes in its structure and anatomy, segments and articular elements of the cervical spine. Osteochondrosis of the neck is characterized by acute pain symptoms that require timely treatment.
Causes of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine.
Where does cervical osteochondrosis come from? A little below we list the factors, the chronic or acute action of which leads to increased tension in the neck. As a result, the body compensates for the increased loads with the work of the muscles, however, due to the constant tension, spasms occur in them with impaired blood circulation. Together, these factors lead to degenerative changes in the spine, changes in its structure, problems with nutrition and blood metabolism. Then comes the turn of changes in the intervertebral joints, there is an overgrowth of bone tissue of the spinal segments.
Let's list the factors that contribute to the development of the disease:
- Scoliosis and poor posture.
- Stay in wrong and unnatural positions for a long time.
- Regular overexertion of the back and cervical spine, for example, due to the peculiarities of work.
- Low mobility, sedentary physical inactivity.
- Injury of the spine in the past.
- Metabolic problems
- Excessive physical activity
- Overexertion stress, prolonged susceptibility to depression.
- The heredity factor.
- Abnormal development of the vertebrae.
Degrees of cervical osteochondrosis
It is necessary to be able to distinguish between the concepts of "stage" and "grade", which characterize osteochondrosis of the cervical spine. We will consider the stages a little later, now we will talk about the degrees that depend on the general clinical condition and complaints of the patient, have different symptoms and require, accordingly, different treatment.
- First grade - 1. . . Cervical osteochondrosis is characterized by minor manifestations of the disease, the main symptoms are pain in the neck region, which does not appear often, intensifying if you turn your head. They can be accompanied by slightly tense muscles.
- Second grade - 2. . . The severity of pain and symptoms are much stronger and can subside to the shoulder area. This is due to the fact that the intervertebral disc was reduced in height, which caused a pinch of the nerve. The pain syndrome tends to increase with movement, a feeling of weakness and headache cause a reduction in performance.
- Third grade - 3. . . This development of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is characterized by the formation of hernias in the intervertebral space. The differences with the previous degrees are in the symptoms, which are even more pronounced and painful: it gives more intensely to the shoulder and arm, in them a sensation of numbness and weakness is possible. The disease is accompanied by the same headache, weakness, mobility of the neck is limited, and a different pain syndrome is detected on palpation.
- Fourth grade - 4. . . This degree is characterized by the complete destruction of the tissues of the intervertebral disc. There are likely to be problems with the blood supply to the brain, particularly through the vertebral artery, which carries blood to the cerebellum and the back of the head. Against this background, there are coordination difficulties, dizziness, ringing in the ears.
Symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine.
Cervical osteochondrosis has some differences from osteochondrosis in other areas. They arise due to the closer arrangement of the segments to each other, the more complex structure of the first two segments: atlas and axis. In addition, there are fewer shock absorbers between the elements of the column and consequently they wear out and break down faster. Also, it is cervical osteochondrosis that often leads to compression of the nerves of the spinal cord.
Cervical osteochondrosis - the most common symptoms:
- Painful sensations. . . They are characterized by a different location: on the back of the head, shoulders and cervical regions. The appearance of pain in the shoulder joint indicates pressure on the nerve responsible for the transmission of pain impulses at this location. Occipital pain reflects the presence of a spasm of the neck muscles due to difficulties with blood flow in this area. Perhaps a sensation of pain in the vertebra, the presence of a crunch.
- Weakness in the hand. . . It manifests itself by damage to the nerve responsible for the motor activity of the upper extremities.
- Little sensitivity in the hand. . . The nerve that supplies the skin of the arm is damaged.
- Limited movement, creaking. . . It is a consequence of the low height of the intervertebral disc, the bone growth in the spinal segments, the presence of small affected structures.
- Coordination problems, feeling weak and dizzy.. . . Due to the progress of the pathology, fibrous tissue is formed. It partially leads to the constriction of the vertebral artery, which has its own channel in the elements of the spine. This reduces the lumen of the vessel, creating a deficit of blood in the occiput and cerebellum.
- Hearing, vision and speech problems.. . . They are a later development of the constriction of the vessel that feeds the cerebellar and occipital areas.
Diagnosis is carried out in the presence of symptoms and complaints characteristic of a person. Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is diagnosed by various methods, mainly aimed at visualizing the state of the damaged part. Most frequently used:
- Bone scan. It is not very informative, it shows only the presence of deviations, it is mainly suitable for early diagnosis.
- Computed tomography. Compared with radiography, the visualization of pathologies of the cervical spine segments is improved, but it does not accurately determine the presence of a hernia, what size it is. Also, this procedure cannot determine the "constriction" of the canal with the spinal cord.
- Magnetic resonance imaging. Such a diagnosis is the most modern, it is characterized by increased information content, allows you to assess in detail the defects of the bone structure, the state of the intervertebral discs, the existence of hernias, their size and direction of growth.
- If there is a suspicion of a deterioration in current in the vertebral arteries, additional diagnoses are made using the ultrasound duplex scanning procedure. Such a study accurately determines the presence of obstacles that reduce the rate of blood flow.
Based on the data obtained during the diagnosis, we can talk about several stages:
- Level 1, characterized by minor violations of the anatomy of the vertebrae.
- Stage 2. . . Probably non-compliance with the position of the vertebrae relative to each other, displacement, rotation relative to the axis of the spine, the intervertebral disc may have a slightly reduced height.
- Stage 3. . . The disc is reduced in height by a quarter, the joints change, there are outgrowths of bone tissue, stiffness of the intervertebral foramen and the spinal canal.
- Stage 4. . . It is even more aggravated than the previous one. The disc is greatly reduced in height, there are deep joint pathologies and extensive bony growths behind it, the spinal canal and the ducts under the spinal cord are strongly compressed.
Treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine.
The main methods of such treatment are: drug therapy, physiotherapy, use of massages on the affected area, therapeutic gymnastics. Let's take a closer look at some of the methods.
The prescription of any medication should only be handled by a competent specialist.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Its action is the effective elimination of pain syndrome, the inflammatory and edematous process of pinched nerve endings.
- Vitamin B is taken to improve metabolic processes in the vertebrae and nerves.
- Medicines that increase blood flow. It is used to nourish disturbed nerve endings and improve blood flow to the brain.
- Chondroprotectors used to restore cartilage tissue and intervertebral discs.
- Muscle relaxants, anti-spasms.
- Electrophoresis. . . Delivery of drug ions to the desired part of the pathology through the action of an electric field. Before the procedure, novocaine anesthesia is performed and aminophylline is also used, which improves blood flow.
- By ultrasound. . . Relieves inflammation, pain, promotes metabolism at the application site.
- Magnetotherapy. . . It has an analgesic effect, relieves swelling.
- Laser therapy. . . Treatment is carried out by exposure to light waves of a special frequency. Well relieves inflammation and promotes blood circulation.
Physiotherapy is allowed only in the absence of exacerbations of the disease. The techniques will be effective in the absence of pain and discomfort during the performance, in addition, they are very effective as a means of prevention. Here are some basic exercises:
- Lie on your stomach and rest your folded arms on the floor. Perform head and torso raises for 60-90 seconds, keeping your back straight, and then gently return to your original position. Do 2-3 reps.
- Lie on your stomach with your arms extended down the length of your torso. Turn your head to the left, to the right, in turn, trying to reach the ground with your ear. Do 5-7 reps on each side.
- In a sitting position, inhaling, lean forward, trying to reach your chest with your head. Then, on the exhale, on the contrary, lean back, throwing your head back. Do 12 reps.
- In a sitting position, place the palms of your hands on your forehead. Apply mutual pressure from forehead to palm and vice versa. Continue up to half a minute, repeating 3 times.
- Orderly and unhurried rotation of the heads sideways, 5-7 rotations each. If you feel dizzy, reduce the number of repetitions or slow down.
Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine: question - answer
Does osteochondrosis of the cervical spine need to be treated with surgery?
It happens, but in those rare cases in which the conservative treatment does not take effect half a year after its onset. In such situations, there is usually chronic pain and tightness of the nerve endings.
How long can you take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs?
Most of these drugs affect the state of the gastric mucosa, so their frequent and regular use is not recommended. The exact duration of taking drugs is determined by the attending physician, who has information about the stage of osteochondrosis in the patient, as well as whether there are concomitant pathologies.
Are chondroprotectors effective in restoring damaged intervertebral disc tissue?
Confirmation of the effect of taking such drugs has not been proven, so they are rarely recommended by doctors.
What to do at home when there is no exacerbation to avoid an exacerbation in the future?
For preventive purposes, it will be best to use physical therapy exercises, massage of the cervical area, refusal of significant physical activity.