Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is a pathological condition in which degenerative changes in bone and cartilage tissue occur.
Intervertebral disc dystrophy can develop after 30 years, while at the age of 40-45 years they are observed to dry out and become dense.
In the spinal space, there are 7 cervical vertebrae, consisting of the body, the process and the arch of the bone; in the center of the vertebra there is a hole where the spinal cord is located. The individual elements of the spine are interconnected by the intervertebral disc formed by the nucleus, the fibrous ring and the interlayer - the hyaline plate (cartilage). The cervical vertebrae, which have the smallest disc thickness, fit closely to each other; the muscles in the neck area are somewhat underdeveloped, as a result, with regular exercise, disc displacement can occur, in which the ducts and nerve trunks are compressed.
The disease in its development goes through several stages, in which the spine undergoes pathological changes:
1 degree of osteochondrosis
It is characterized by the onset of destruction of the intervertebral disc. Fractures form in the annulus fibrosus, the strength and elasticity of the disc is disturbed, its height is reduced, due to which the nerve root is compressed. Severe pain appeared. Sometimes at stage 1 (preclinical) such pain is absent, and osteochondrosis occurs with moderate discomfort in the neck.
2 degrees of osteochondrosis
If grade 1 osteochondrosis is not treated or its treatment is ineffective, then a chronic condition arises, namely stage 2 osteochondrosis. The pain becomes persistent, destruction and compaction of the intervertebral disc persists and leads to small dislocations of the cervical vertebrae. With cervical osteochondrosis at this stage, falling head syndrome can develop. The syndrome is characterized by severe pain, and the person should keep the head in a fixed position to reduce the pain.
3 degrees of osteochondrosis
The fibrous annulus is almost destroyed, leading to complications of osteochondrosis - protrusion (melting) of the intervertebral disc or intervertebral hernia. In stage 3 osteochondrosis, the pain intensity can be reduced, as the affected cartilage tissue on the intervertebral disc is no longer present, meaning that there is no source of pain, but pinching of the nerve root remains, so the pain is not completely gone.
Causes of cervical osteochondrosis
With age, the core of the intervertebral disc loses its moisture storage and also becomes less elastic. As metabolism slows down significantly after 50 years, the regeneration process in discs with poor blood supply stops. At a young age, hypodynamia plays a major role in the occurrence of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine - a passive lifestyle, the absence of regular physical activity.
Factors that contribute to circulatory disorders in the cervical vertebrae and intervertebral space are:
- long car driving;
- working at a computer, sitting long in any position;
- lifting weights regularly;
- working conditions involving sudden movements, twisting of the neck;
- posture violations;
- neck and head injuries;
- disc displacement as a result of sports training;
- overweight, leading to high load on the intervertebral disc and dysfunction of the cervical spine;
- alcohol abuse, smoking, unhealthy diet (due to adverse effects on metabolic processes); pressure;
- neck hypothermia (for example, if there is no scarf during cold periods);
- sleeping on a pillow that is high or too soft;
- heredity (family history of spinal disease).
Common symptoms of neck osteochondrosis may include:
- dizziness, migraine -like pain in the head (acute), as well as dull and pressing pain in the neck (cervixgia), which may increase with movement of the head;
- lumbago (sharp pain that spreads to the back or arms);
- burning sensation in the back, heart;
- stiffness in the neck, arms (especially hands);
- decreased mobility and numbness in the neck in the morning;
- throbbing sensation in the back of the head;
- temporary darkness in the eyes, noise in the ear canal, sometimes fainting;
- skin thickening in the spine due to proliferation of connective tissue.
Often, a doctor’s diagnosis sounds like "stage 2 cervical spine osteochondrosis. " Why the latter immediately? The fact is that the first stage cannot be diagnosed because the symptoms are too weak. During the initial examination, the doctor determines how much spinal space is affected. For this, the patient is examined in different positions: in a horizontal position, sitting, standing, tilted. By counting the vertebrae, the specialist is guided by anatomical norms and determines the degree of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine. Examination is not limited to visual inspection - spinal deformities are easily palpable by hand. Palpation makes it possible to determine the localization of pain and the strength of paravertebral muscle tension. However, in order for the treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine to bring about positive results, it is necessary to undergo a hardware examination. Computed tomography, X -rays, magnetic resonance imaging - all these methods make an accurate diagnosis and allow you to choose the optimal method of treatment.
How to cure osteochondrosis of the cervical spine? This is a formulation of the wrong question, more precisely - how to treat osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, because it is impossible to cure osteochondrosis. But it is very possible to stop the process of destruction of cartilage tissue, intervertebral discs, relieving pain and discomfort. But this is only possible if treatment is started in the early stages of the disease. Therefore, it is very important to see a doctor on time.
Treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine should be comprehensive.
The treatment regimen can be shown as follows:
- drugs of the NSAID group (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to relieve inflammation;
- antispasmodics - to relieve cramps;
- pain relievers;
- Vitamin B;
- physiotherapy training (exercise therapy) - relieves pain and inflammation;
- therapeutic massage - restores blood supply, relieves tension;
- acupuncture and acupressure.
But the most important method of treating cervical osteochondrosis is dosing physical activity.
To prevent the development of cervical osteochondrosis, it is recommended:
- when not working, make sure you rest for five minutes every hour, avoiding pressure on the neck,
- do not make sudden head movements, monitor posture,
- avoid hypothermia,
- exercise, swim, eat right,
- sleep must be on a firm mattress and on a low pillow: the angle of bending of the neck should not exceed 15 degrees,
- after 25 years, avoid shock loads on the spine (jumping, running).