Back pain and numbness are symptoms that plague many people. The episodic occurrence 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 the cases of chronic back pain. As a result of 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 is reflected in a change in their shape and a decrease in elasticity.
The vertebrae are compressed and the spine loses stability in the affected areas. The nerve endings of the spinal cord are pinched, as a result of which the back muscles are constantly in hypertonicity. Due to the displacement of the vertebrae, the risk of developing protrusions or intervertebral hernias, as well as spondylosis (the appearance of bone processes - osteophytes), increases.
Types of osteochondrosis and stages of its development
When making a diagnosis, 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, since it is it that accounts for the load of the upper half of the body.
At the initial stage, osteochondrosis is hidden under the guise of local symptoms, which is why the patient does not receive timely treatment and the disease continues to progress. Sequentially developing stages of the disease are characterized by the following features:
- Displacement of 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 spine line and the appearance of protrusions or intervertebral hernias due to rupture of the annulus fibrosus and protrusion of the disc nuclei due to inappropriate load 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 in the case of any disease, the earlier osteochondrosis is diagnosed, the more chances of its successful cure. At the same time, after stabilization of the patient's condition, lifelong prevention is required to eliminate the risk of relapse: exercise and a special diet. And given that most modern people are at risk of developing this pathology, it is better to start a healthy habit of morning exercises right now.
The reasons for the development of osteochondrosis
Osteochondrosis is a disease that is more often diagnosed in elderly people due to natural causes of aging of the body and slowing down of metabolic processes. However, in the absence of physical activity and 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 flow 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 an ailment, which also include:
- malformations of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems, hereditary factors; defective physical development;
- violation of metabolic processes in the body, improper absorption of nutrients, disruption in 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 medications;
- excess weight and increased stress on the spine, hard physical labor with improper distribution of loads;
- a sedentary lifestyle, prolonged stay in static uncomfortable positions, for example, when working in an office;
- spinal injury; transferred infectious diseases, stress.
It is possible to speak with confidence about the disease in the case when, 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 impossible in full, and against the background of accompanying factors, there is a gradual destruction of the vertebrae and discs. As a result of the natural processes of self-regulation of the body, osteophytes can appear on the vertebrae, a kind of spines from bone tissue, which seem to cement the intervertebral space. In this case, the flexibility of the spine is lost, and movements bring pain and discomfort.
Symptoms of the disease
If there is a general similarity, different speciesosteochondrosishave differingsymptoms 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, aching pain in the lower back with sudden movements or prolonged stay in a static position is characteristic. Due to pinching of nerve endings, pain may appear in one or both legs, the nature of the pain varies from aching to shooting. By taking a comfortable position, the pain goes away.
The second most common type of osteochondrosis, cervical, is characterized by the following symptoms: the presence of a dull pressing headache and dizziness. Unpleasant sensations intensify with head movement, while taking analgesics does not relieve pain syndrome. The pain can be given to the chest area, sensations are similar to attacks of angina pectoris, but more prolonged. Also, there are sharp painful sensations in the hands and fingers, their numbness. Perhaps a feeling of numbness of the tongue, difficulty in the implementation of speech activity.
Chest 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 other diseases. In addition to painful sensations in the back, which intensify with movement and bending, with osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine, pain can occur in the region of the heart, liver and gastrointestinal tract. There is a feeling of numbness in the muscles of the sternum and the functions of the genitals are weakened.
Common osteochondrosis combines signs of several types of osteochondrosis.
How is the diagnosis carried out?
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 examination to clarify the nature and determine the degree of damage to the spine:
- CT scan.
The final diagnosis is made based on the results of the images, after which the appropriate treatment regimen is selected.
How to treat back osteochondrosis
Since on the occurrenceosteochondrosisa combination of various factors affectstreatmentalways includes a whole range of measures. After the removal of the acute condition 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 - physiotherapy exercises, a set of exercises which is 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 dealing with osteochondrosis, but should be performed under the supervision of a specialist. There are several areas of exercise therapy, which include kinesitherapy, health path, classes on special simulators. Exercise therapy has practically no limitations, since in most cases each patient is assigned an individual set of exercises. You can not engage in exercise therapy at the acute stage of the disease or with serious spinal injuries.
- Physiotherapy, which has a complex of procedures aimed at reducing pain and stimulating 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 for relaxing muscles and general strengthening of the body, as well as restoring the nervous system, a course of coniferous or pearl baths can be prescribed.
- The massage is used to relieve pain and restore blood circulation in the muscles. Massage is not prescribed in the acute stage of the disease.
- Spinal traction or traction. In this procedure, the vertebrae return to their natural position, so that the load on the spine becomes even.
- Reflexotherapy, when using which a specialist acts on reflex zones and pain points, thereby reducing pain. It is used in combination with 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 the 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 dishes based on gelatin: jelly, jellied 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 do not treat osteochondrosis
With untimely or incorrect treatment, osteochondrosis can cause 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 primarily 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 in childhood;
- spinal injury;
- excess weight.
Prevention is very important for people with a sedentary lifestyle, experiencing increased stress on the spinal column and women 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 monitor your posture, not to sit in unnatural positions for a long time. When sedentary work, it is necessary to take breaks, during which to arrange physical exercises - to knead the stiff muscles, restoring blood circulation in them.
As a rule, daily habitual movements, which are performed incorrectly, without taking into account the load that they bear 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 can not lift heavy objects from the floor from a standing position, first you need to sit down. When doing household chores - cooking, cleaning, washing, take the correct position - standing, not bending over.
Another secret is wearing 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.