Back pain and numbness are symptoms that affect many people. The episodic appearance of these unpleasant sensations is possible for various reasons - prolonged inactivity, long sitting or sleeping in the wrong position. The constant presence of such symptoms indicates the development of degenerative-dystrophic lesions of the tissues of the spine - osteochondrosis.
Osteochondrosis: what is it?
Osteochondrosis is an extremely common disease, accounting for more than half of cases of chronic back pain. Due to a combination of factors (lack of nutrients in the diet, lack of physical activity, impaired metabolic processes in the body), destructive changes begin to occur in the structure of the tissues of the vertebrae and intervertebral discs, as well as the bones and ligaments associated with them. This results in a change in shape and a decrease in elasticity.
The vertebrae are compressed and the spine loses its stability in the affected areas. Nerve endings in the spinal cord are pinched, which leads to constant hypertonicity of the back muscles. Due to the displacement of the vertebrae, the risk of developing intervertebral protrusions or hernias, as well as spondylosis (the appearance of bone processes - osteophytes), increases.
Types of osteochondrosis and stages of its development
When diagnosing, the place of localization of the degenerative process is taken into account. Osteochondrosis is of 4 types:
- widespread (when more than one department is affected).
More often than others, osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine is diagnosed, as it is this that explains the load on the upper half of the body.
At the initial stage, osteochondrosis is hidden under the guise of local symptoms, therefore the patient does not receive timely treatment, and the disease continues to progress. The sequential stages of development of the disease are characterized by the following features:
- Displacement of the intervertebral discs and instability of the vertebrae.
- Reduction of the intervertebral space due to the destruction of the fibrous ring of the discs (compression of the vertebrae).
- Deformation of the line of the spine and the appearance of protrusions or intervertebral hernias due to the rupture of the fibrous ring and the protrusion of the nuclei of the disc due to improper loading on them.
- The presence of bone growths (spondylosis), due to which the spine loses its flexibility. The patient's movements are extremely difficult and cause severe pain and discomfort.
As with any disease, the earlier osteochondrosis is diagnosed, the more likely it is to heal. At the same time, after stabilizing the patient's condition, lifelong prevention is necessary to eliminate the risk of relapse: exercise and a special diet. And since most modern people are at risk of developing this condition, it is best to start a healthy habit of morning exercise now.
The reasons for the development of osteochondrosis
Osteochondrosis is a disease that is more often diagnosed in older people due to natural causes of aging of the body and slowing of metabolic processes. However, in the absence of physical activity and by leading a predominantly "sedentary" lifestyle, this disease can develop in younger people. In this case, a weakening of the back muscles can lead to the development of a degenerative process, which disrupts blood circulation and nutrition of the tissues of the vertebrae and intervertebral discs.
Despite the prevalenceosteochondrosis, causeshisemergencenot fully understood. A combination of factors always leads to the development of a disease, which also includes:
- malformations of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, hereditary factors; defective physical development;
- violation of metabolic processes in the body, poor absorption of nutrients, disruption of the work of the endocrine and digestive systems;
- deficiency of vitamins and minerals in the diet, unbalanced diet, frequent dehydration;
- long-term use of certain drugs;
- excess weight and increased stress on the spine, hard physical work with poor load distribution;
- a sedentary lifestyle, prolonged stay in uncomfortable static positions, for example, when working in an office;
- Injury of the spine; transferred infectious diseases, stress.
It is possible to confidently talk about the disease in the event that, due to the difficulty of access of nutrients to the tissues of the intervertebral discs and vertebrae, degenerative processes begin to develop in them. In this case, regeneration becomes completely impossible, and against the background of the accompanying factors, there is a gradual destruction of the vertebrae and discs. Due to the body's natural self-regulatory processes, osteophytes can appear on the vertebrae, a kind of thorns from bone tissue, which seem to cement the intervertebral space. In this case, the flexibility of the spine is lost and the movements bring pain and discomfort.
Symptoms of the disease
If there is a general similarity, different speciesosteochondrosishave differedsymptoms and signs. . . This is due to the fact that, depending on the site of localization, as a result of the pinching of the vessels, painful sensations affect the organs and parts of the body located nearby.
For osteochondrosis of the lumbar region, painful pain in the lower back is characteristic with sudden movements or prolonged stay in a static position. Due to the pinching of the nerve endings, pain may appear in one or both legs, the nature of the pain varies from a pain to a thrust. By adopting a comfortable position, the pain disappears.
The second most common type of osteochondrosis, cervical, is characterized by the following symptoms: the presence of a dull headache and dizziness. The unpleasant sensations intensify with movement of the head, while taking painkillers does not relieve the pain syndrome. Pain can be given to the chest area, the sensations are similar to angina attacks, but more prolonged. In addition, there are sharp painful sensations in the hands and fingers, their numbness. Perhaps a feeling of numbness of the tongue, difficulties in the implementation of speech activity.
Thoracic osteochondrosis is relatively rare. The main reason for its development is the curvature of the spine, less often injuries. This type of disease is the most difficult to diagnose because the clinical signs are similar to those of other diseases. In addition to painful sensations in the back, which intensify with movement and bending, with osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine, pain may occur in the area of the heart, liver and gastrointestinal tract. There is a feeling of numbness in the muscles of the breastbone, and the functions of the genitals are weakened.
Common osteochondrosis combines the signs of several types of osteochondrosis.
How is the diagnosis made?
When diagnosing osteochondrosis, an external examination of the patient is not enough. In addition to collecting data, a neurologist or vertebrologist prescribes the following types of examinations to clarify the nature and determine the degree of damage to the spine:
- CT scan.
The final diagnosis is made on the basis of the results of the images, after which the appropriate treatment regimen is selected.
How to treat osteochondrosis of the back
From the eventosteochondrosisa combination of various factors affectstreatmentalways includes a whole range of measures. After the elimination of acute disease with the help of painkillers (if there is such a need) and the appointment of a balanced diet, the following recovery methods are used:
- Exercise therapy is physical therapy, a set of exercises of which are aimed at developing damaged areas of the spine and normalizing muscle tone. At the same time, physical activity is limited, aimed at strengthening the muscles of the back and restoring the flexibility of joints and ligaments. Exercise therapy is considered the most effective method of treating osteochondrosis, but it should be done under the supervision of a specialist. There are several areas of exercise therapy, which include physiotherapy, fitness trail, courses on special simulators. Exercise therapy has virtually no limits, since in most cases each patient is assigned an individual set of exercises. You cannot engage in exercise therapy in the acute stage of the disease or with severe spinal injuries.
- Physiotherapy, which has a complex of procedures aimed at reducing pain and stimulating the natural regenerative processes in the tissues of the vertebrae and discs. They use the influence of a laser, ultrasound, magnetic vibrations. As an additional method of relaxing muscles and strengthening the body in general, as well as restoring the nervous system, a course of coniferous or pearl baths can be prescribed.
- Massage is used to relieve pain and restore blood flow to the muscles. Massage is not prescribed at the acute stage of the disease.
- Traction or spinal traction. In this procedure, the vertebrae return to their natural position, so that the load on the spine becomes uniform.
- Reflexotherapy, during the use of which a specialist acts on reflex zones and sore points, thereby reducing pain. It is used in combination with a massage.
- Preventive measures that give a tangible therapeutic effect include the use of special orthopedic devices: mattresses, pillows, orthopedic shoes or insoles, special corsets that support damaged parts of the spine in the correct position.
- Reception of chondroprotectors, which become an additional source of nutrition for damaged tissues. You should also introduce into the diet the use of gelatin dishes: jelly, jelly meat, aspic.
- According to the doctor's prescription, after passing the appropriate tests, foreign experts recommend taking vitamin D3, omega fatty acids and vitamin B complex.
What will happen if you don't treat osteochondrosis
With untimely or incorrect treatment, osteochondrosis can provoke the development of the following pathologies:
- Vegetovascular dystonia.
- Oxygen starvation of the brain.
- Intervertebral hernia, which can lead to impaired motor function of the arms or legs.
Prevention of osteochondrosis should be aimed at excluding factors that increase the risk of its development. This mainly applies to people who have:
- genetic predisposition to diseases of the spine;
- chronic diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, in which the absorption of nutrients is impaired;
- diseases associated with metabolic disorders;
- severe infectious diseases, rickets transferred to childhood;
- Injury of the spine;
Prevention is very important for people with a sedentary lifestyle, experiencing increased stress on the spine, and women who are planning to have children.
The main and easiest way to prevent osteochondrosis is moderate and regular physical activity: gymnastics or swimming. It is imperative to watch your posture, not to sit in unnatural positions for a long time. During sedentary work, it is necessary to take breaks, during which to organize physical exercises - to knead stiff muscles, restoring blood circulation.
As a rule, the usual daily movements, which are performed incorrectly, without taking into account the load on the spine, become a concomitant factor in the development of osteochondrosis. For example, you should avoid lifting weights, get rid of the habit of constantly carrying a heavy bag on the same shoulder. You cannot lift heavy objects off the floor from a standing position, you must sit down first. When doing household chores - cooking, cleaning, washing, taking the correct posture - standing, don't bend down.
Another secret is to wear comfortable shoes, ideally orthopedic or with an orthopedic insole. It is better to refuse high heels altogether, or at least not to wear them all the time.