Cervical osteochondrosis (osteochondrosis of the cervical spine) is a chronic degenerative disease of the spine in which the structure of the spine is distorted, the integrity of the intervertebral structures is disturbed, and the roots of the spinal cord are affected.
It is important to know! Osteochondrosis is not a phrase. There is always an opportunity to alleviate the aggravation of the process as well as to control the development of changes in the spine. In the most advanced cases, neurosurgical operations are possible. However, this does not negate the fact that the disease can be "triggered". When the first symptoms of osteochondrosis appear, it is very important to consult a doctor to diagnose the disease and prescribe early preventive measures!
Reasons for development
The anatomical structure of the spine assumes the greatest mobility in the cervical spine, and it is also in the cervical spine that the vertebrae have the smallest size. These two factors make the neck one of the "weak points" of the spine.
The main reasons for the development of cervical osteochondrosis are the combination of the following adverse factors:
- Improper posture and neck position (including when working on a computer). .
- High physical activity on cervical back and shoulder girdle. .
- Spinal injuries.
- Age-related changes in the tissue of intervertebral structures.
- Improper diet, low in essential vitamins and minerals.
It must be said that almost every person develops osteochondrosis with age, it is according to some researchers "a kind of retaliation for upright gait. " However, it is in cervical osteochondrosis that comes first among the problems of the spine, under the conditions of the modern world with its fast life, sedentary lifestyle and prolonged work at the computer.
The symptoms can vary greatly depending on the level of spinal lesion, the severity of degenerative changes, the individual characteristics of the human body and many other factors. Neurologists prefer to distinguish between three main symptom complexes that occur in cervical osteochondrosis, as well as their combination:
- Vertebral cervicalgia.
- Vertebral cervicocranialgia.
- Vertebral cervicobrachialgia.
Based on the names, one can distinguish between the main symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis. So with cervicalgia, the main complaint will be pain directly in the neck; with vertebral cervicocranialgia, neck pain also extends to the head; with cervicobrachialgia, the pain in the neck is transmitted to one or both hands, cramps in the hand also develop, numbness and a feeling of crawling on the hands may occur. In all cases of osteochondrosis, the following symptoms may occur: muscle tension in the neck, button in the neck, restriction of neck movements.
In the presence of severe osteochondrosis, complicated by the presence of protrusions or hernias on the disc, the so-called radiculopathy can form: a malfunction of a particular spine with the development of weakness of the innervated muscles, their weight loss and sensitivity disorders.
Diagnostics and X-ray signs
Osteochondrosis is an X-ray diagnosis, as a detailed clinical picture is only available at the moment of exacerbation, while changes in the spine may be with a subjective well-being for a person. Without an X-ray examination, one can only talk about the alleged osteochondrosis, because similar symptoms can cause other diseases (myositis, vertebral neoplasms and others).
The following research methods are used to diagnose osteochondrosis: X-ray (preferably with functional tests), MSCT and MRI. The latter study is most preferred due to the fact that it allows you to very clearly visualize the condition of the intervertebral structures.
X-rays of osteochondrosis include the following changes in the spine:
- Decrease in the height of the intervertebral discs.
- The presence of marginal bone growths.
- Violation of the position of the vertebrae in relation to each other.
- Deformations of the vertebrae and arches, etc.
The presence of the above changes as well as changes in the structure of the intervertebral disc, detected by MSCT and MR, serve as reliable signs confirming the presence of osteochondrosis.
Treatment should be comprehensive and targeted at all aspects of the pathogenesis of clinical manifestations. Chronic dystrophic changes during exacerbations lead to inflammation of the roots of the spinal cord, which in turn reflexively causes pain. Pain is a signal for the muscles to develop a defensive reaction - muscle spasms. Muscle spasms bring the vertebrae closer together and increase the compression (squeezing) and inflammation of the roots. The circle is complete. Therefore, it is necessary to remove inflammation, pain and muscle spasms and protect the roots from inflammatory influences.
Assign drug and non-drug treatment methods. They change in part in the presence of the occurrence of certain symptoms, but they have a common pattern.
Anti-inflammatory drugs (aceclofenac, ketoprofen, meloxicam, diclofenac, etc. ) are used, muscle relaxants (tolperisone hydrochloride, baclofen, tizanidine), neuroprotective drugs (complex preparations of B vitamins and thioctic acid).
It involves massage, physiotherapy and exercise therapy. Massage for cervical osteochondrosis very effectively relieves muscle spasms, improves blood flow to the tissues of the spine, reducing the severity of the inflammatory process. Physiotherapy can aim to relieve pain (electrophoresis with analgesics) and relieve muscle tension (diadynamic currents). Physiotherapy is a unique and highly effective method of disease prevention. You can see a set of exercise therapy exercises for cervical osteochondrosis here.
Among the popular treatment methods, the use of various water and alcohol-based heating pads should be highlighted, which can reduce the intensity of neck pain and reduce inflammation. The "dry heat" method has also proven good if the essence is to heat salt or sand placed in a cloth bag and then apply it to the pain site.
On the one hand, the use of applicators - special devices or simply tissue surfaces with a needle-like coating - can be attributed to the folk methods of treating osteochondrosis of the cervix. Application with moderate pressure on the neck area as well as simply lying on such a surface for 10-15 minutes, causes reflex relaxation of the muscles of the cervix and distracting pain relief.