Osteochondrosis is a common disease of the musculoskeletal system. It manifests as mild discomfort and severe pain that restricts a person's activities. In advanced cases, the pathology may lead to the need for surgery or even disability. Prevention and prophylaxis of disease can reduce the risk of its occurrence or contribute to positive treatment outcomes.
Osteochondrosis is a pathology caused by a combination of factors such as genetic susceptibility, human lifestyle, and environmental conditions.
The disease is characterized by damage to the articular cartilage as well as the underlying bone tissue. Normally, it is cartilage that provides flexibility and mobility in the spine, but under pressure from other vertebrae, they wear down, lose their properties, elasticity, and deform.
The most common causes of pathological development are:
- Genetic predisposition.
- The weakness of the muscular corset.
- Postural disorders and scoliosis.
- Mechanical injury to the spine.
- Excessive physical activity.
- Neuro-emotional stress.
- passive lifestyle.
- Gastrointestinal disease.
- Tight uncomfortable shoes, high heels.
- General dehydration.
- Lack of important nutrients, athlete's foot.
Types of Osteochondrosis
The disease is on the list of the most common complaints from working-age patients who spend up to 8-10 hours a day on a computer. Often, patients do not take pain seriously, which leads to the development of complications. If you do not want to experience persistent pain in your neck, head, shoulders, it is important to prevent it as soon as possible, and if necessary, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
The disease may be asymptomatic. It is usually accompanied by pain in the back, neck, and forearm. In advanced stages, thoracic osteochondrosis is characterized by symptoms such as pain in the arms and legs, and ringing in the ears. Additionally, thoracic osteomalacia may be accompanied by nausea, morning headaches, sore and blinking eyes, and sweating. For the treatment of the disease, medication and therapeutic exercise are sufficient measures.
The lumbar spine is very fragile. If you don't strengthen your back muscles and monitor your posture, you can experience unpleasant symptoms. Osteopathy is characterized by low back pain, hip pain and so-called back pain.
Plan ahead. Keep your lower back warm and try not to get too cold. Do not carry or lift objects heavier than 10 kg. If you're lifting heavy objects, don't jerk or move suddenly. Refuse any physical labor in leaning positions. If you're mopping, use a mop or crouch.
Stages and symptoms of osteochondrosis development
The disease goes through 4 stages with various symptoms. In the initial stage, the lesions occur in the nucleus pulposus region of the intervertebral disc. Excessive loading can result in reduced disc height and cracking of the annulus fibrosus. When a person is in a stationary position for an extended period of time, or conversely, when they are moving too aggressively, they may experience a little discomfort.
In stage 2, the distance between the vertebrae continues to decrease, and the vertebral muscles and ligaments lose tension and sag. This results in increased mobility and increased risk of displacement or subluxation of the vertebrae with an affected disc. During the second stage, discomfort and pain occur, especially with certain types of loads or certain locations.
Degree 3 osteochondrosis develops disc prolapse and herniation, and the intervertebral joints may develop arthropathy. A person experiences stiffness and becomes inactive. At this stage of the pathology, pain can be clearly felt depending on the location of the lesion.
In the fourth stage, the body tries to adapt to the dysfunction of the spine. This can be expressed in bone tumors - osteophytes. They act as vertebral fixators. But it can cause pinched nerves and other injuries.
When examining a patient and taking a medical history, a specialist makes an initial diagnosis, which indicates the presence of disease by visually detectable curvature in the lateral or longitudinal plane of the spine. After the initial consultation, a surgeon or neurologist may prescribe additional tests. After determining the localization of the disease and its stage, treatment can be started, the purpose of which is to eliminate the cause of the pain.
The most common diagnostic methods:
- computerized tomography;
- nuclear magnetic resonance;
- Doppler ultrasound.
Treatment for osteochondrosis
Only regular, consistent and systematic treatment can bring good results. The treatment strategy in the first phase aims to neutralize the pain, the second phase activates the blood supply and metabolic processes in the affected area of the spine, and the third phase shows physiotherapy and manual procedures.
In the acute stage of osteochondrosis in any department, accompanied by severe pain, the doctor can prescribe paravertebral blockers, nocaine, lidocaine and other drugs to relieve the muscle tension of the spinal movement segment, reduce swelling and muscle tension.
Combinations of NSAIDs, antispasmodics, analgesics, and vitamin complexes (group D, niacin) are considered effective. As topical treatment, prescription ointments - chondroprotective agents and agents with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory components.
It's important to remember that medication only helps with severe pain in the moment. In the long run, physical therapy helps to get rid of the unpleasant manifestations of the disease.
The most common treatments include:
- manual therapy;
What can happen without treatment?
Osteochondrosis is best corrected in the initial stages that develop before vertebral disease syndrome, with chronic headaches and pain in the shoulder blades, heart, and lower back. Over time, the disease causes changes in the overall structure of the spine due to active compensatory expansion of connective, fibrous, and bone tissue.
The clinical manifestations of the disease depend on the location of the pathology, the degree of progression of the disease course, and the individual characteristics of the patient. Displaced discs, herniations and hernias can lead to unpleasant consequences.
- Violation of blood circulation in the tissues;
- tense nerves;
- Spinal canal dysfunction;
- Edema and tissue fibrosis.
Therefore, the treatment of osteochondrosis should start as early as possible, focus on neutralizing and anti-inflammatory, and proceed in a complex manner. If the disease persists for many years, is in an advanced stage, and is diagnosed with a herniated disc, surgery may be required.
Prevention of osteochondrosis and its treatment are inseparable. Their goal is to improve patients' quality of life. If you have a sedentary job, take regular breaks. Get up every hour and a half and do some simple exercises to relieve tension in your neck and back muscles. Try to sit correctly at the table: with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Choose chairs whose backs provide maximum support for the spine: so that it does not become overly tense.
To prevent the onset of the disease, it is best to have regular massage sessions. Massage improves blood circulation and lymph flow, enhances metabolic processes in muscle tissue, and stops stagnant processes. As a result, overall health improved, vitality increased, and some pain symptoms disappeared.
Recommendations to prevent and prevent the development of osteochondrosis:
- Limit yourself when lifting weights. The maximum allowable weight is 10 kg.
- The hands are evenly weighted.
- Systematically perform simple exercises designed to strengthen the spine, muscles, ligaments and joints.
- If possible, go for a swim.
- Try not to sit in one position for long periods of time.
- Take a dietary supplement containing mucopolysaccharides - elements that make up cartilage.
Prevention of spinal osteochondrosis is less difficult than further treatment. Think about your health and start taking care of it before it reminds you.