Cervical osteochondrosis - causes, treatment, prevention

Cervical osteochondrosis is pathological changes in the tissues of the intervertebral discs and the vertebrae themselves. As a result, soft tissues become thinner, and the effect of amortization of the vertebrae decreases. Compression of blood vessels and nerve fibers occurs, and the mobility of the cervical spine decreases.

osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

Cervical osteochondrosis is one of the most dangerous localizations of osteochondrosis, since as a result of this disease, the blood supply to the brain deteriorates.

Why is cervical osteochondrosis dangerous?

As a result, the normal functioning of the cervical spine is disrupted, its mobility decreases, and neck pains appear. Cervical osteochondrosis can cause deterioration of blood circulation in the brain, migraines, heart rhythm disturbances, deterioration of vision, coordination and attention, and the development of intervertebral hernia.

Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis

The disease is characterized by acute pain in the neck, radiating to the back of the head, scapula and forearm. The pain may worsen when moving the head or in certain positions. As a result of the pain syndrome and the inflammatory process, the cervical muscles are overstrained. Patients often have migraines, decreased hearing and visual acuity, dizziness, tinnitus, sudden changes in blood pressure, fainting. A symptom of cervical osteochondrosis may be a violation of the sensitivity of the fingertips.

Types of osteochondrosis

Localization distinguishes cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and common osteochondrosis. Most often, lumbar osteochondrosis is diagnosed (over 50% of cases), cervical (more than 25%) and widespread (about 12%).

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

Parents often say a common phrase addressed to kids: "Don't turn your head! "Doctors call for the opposite: "be sure to turn your head. "Any age. This is the only way you can avoid a dangerous disease - cervical osteochondrosis.

The neck is designed by nature not only to hold the head and turn it in different directions, which, by the way, over the years for untrained people who do not take care of their health, becomes a rather difficult matter. The spinal cord, arteries that feed the brain, nerve roots and trunks, which carry out a nerve connection with the hands, heart, and lungs, pass through the neck region.

Complaints with this type of osteochondrosis are very diverse: heart pain, headaches, dizziness with short-term loss of consciousness (due to disturbances in the blood supply to the brain), pain in the shoulder joint or throughout the arm.

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine

The pain that occurs from time to time in the thoracic spine is familiar to everyone who is engaged in hard physical labor. As a rule, these painful, unpleasant sensations serve as the first sign that a rather unpleasant disease begins to develop in the body - osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine. Often this ailment affects persons of the so-called sedentary professions: designers, computer operators, car drivers.

But it is not at all necessary that you, even if you drag heavy objects every day or have to sit at your desk for long hours, will have osteochondrosis.

A reliable barrier to illness is correct posture. When walking, try to keep your back straight, shoulders straight. To form posture, as you yourself understand, it is necessary from an early age. But you can do this at 30 or 40 years old. Indeed, better late than never!

Osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine

At first, there are dull pains in the lumbar region and in the legs, then numbness of the extremities is usually noted, a significant increase in pain with sudden movements of the body, with shaking.

Causes of cervical osteochondrosis

The causes of cervical osteochondrosis are usually associated with aging of the body and age-related changes in tissues. However, lifestyle and related factors increase the risk of developing the disease. These include:

  • low physical activity, sedentary work;
  • excess weight and unhealthy diet;
  • diseases of the musculoskeletal system: flat feet, rheumatism, scoliosis, posture disorders;
  • injuries in the neck or back of the head.

In addition, osteochondrosis can be caused by other diseases of the spine. The spine is a single whole, and it also needs to be treated in a complex. That is why the first thing to do if you suspect osteochondrosis is to undergo a complete examination of the spine.

Osteochondrosis is a disease of the cartilaginous surfaces of the bones of the musculoskeletal system, mainly the spine (as well as the hip and knee joints). Osteochondrosis has four stages of development.

To understand the essence of this disease, it is necessary at least in general terms to understand the structure of the spine. The vertebrae are connected to each other by ligaments and intervertebral discs. The holes in the vertebrae form the canal in which the spinal cord is located; its roots, containing sensory nerve fibers, extend between each pair of vertebrae. When the spine is flexed, the intervertebral discs are somewhat compacted on the side of the slope, and their nuclei are displaced in the opposite direction. Simply put, the intervertebral discs are shock absorbers that soften the pressure on the spine under stress.

Mass morbidity is associated primarily with the vertical position of a person, in which the load on the spine and intervertebral discs is much higher than in animals. If you do not learn how to sit, stand, lie down, then the disc will lose the ability to perform its function (amortization) and after a while the outer shell of the disc will crack, and hernial protrusions are formed. They compress blood vessels (which leads to impaired spinal circulation) or the roots of the spinal cord, and in rare cases, the spinal cord itself. These changes are accompanied by painful sensations and reflex tension of the back muscles.

intervertebral disc damage

According to statistics, almost every second person aged 25 to 55 suffers from osteochondrosis. But mostly people begin to feel the manifestations of osteochondrosis after 35 years. The development and exacerbation of osteochondrosis of the spine is facilitated by static and dynamic overload, as well as vibration.

This can be caused by:

  • work associated with frequent changes in the position of the trunk - flexion and extension, turns, jerk movements,
  • lifting heavy loads,
  • improper posture when standing, sitting, lying down and when carrying weights,
  • physical education and sports without taking into account the influence of heavy physical exertion,
  • unfavorable meteorological conditions - low temperature with high air humidity.

But it cannot be said that if you follow all the instructions exactly, then osteochondrosis will not threaten you. After all, the cause of this disease can be traumatic injuries.

Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis

Treatment is prescribed after examination. The doctor collects anamnesis and directs the patient for examination. Most often - for magnetic resonance imaging. Having found out the exact cause of the disease, they begin treatment.

In the acute period, the doctor prescribes pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs. In the period of remission - physiotherapy procedures - massage, kinesiotherapy, shock wave therapy, physiotherapy exercises. These methods are aimed at strengthening the muscle corset, relieving tension and preventing attacks of the disease.

Prevention of cervical osteochondrosis

  • Get regular checkups.The disease is easier to prevent than to cure. Annual examinations will identify the disease at an early stage and cure it before it progresses to a more severe stage.
  • Watch your posture.Keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. If you work a lot at a computer or desk, choose a comfortable chair, sit correctly, and warm up every half hour or hour of work.
  • Lead an active lifestyle.Walk more, be outdoors, play sports, swimming is especially useful.
  • Use an orthopedic pillow while sleeping.

Osteochondrosis and its prevention

Taking care of one's own health is the immediate responsibility of everyone; he has no right to shift it onto others. After all, it often happens that a person, by the wrong way of life, bad habits, physical inactivity, overeating, brings himself to a catastrophic state by the age of 20-30. No matter how perfect medicine is, it cannot save everyone from all diseases. Man is the creator of his own health, which must be fought for. From an early age, it is necessary to lead an active lifestyle, temper, exercise and sports, observe the rules of personal hygiene - in a word, to achieve in reasonable ways a genuine harmony of health.

Exercise for a long time is a reliable prevention of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine. Here are a number of exercises for the prevention of this type of osteochondrosis:

  • Press your forehead into your palm and tighten your neck muscles. Do the exercise 3 times for 7 seconds. Then press the back of your head on the palm of your hand also 3 times for 7 seconds.
  • Straining the neck muscles, press with the left temple on the left palm (3 times for 7 seconds), and then press on the right palm with the right temple (3 times for 7 seconds).
  • Tilt your head back slightly. Overcoming the resistance of the tense neck muscles, press your chin against the jugular fossa. Do the exercise at least 5 times.
  • Keep your head and shoulders straight. Slowly turn your head as far as possible to the right (5 times). Perform the movement to the left the same number of times.
  • Lower your chin to your neck. Turn your head first 5 times to the right and then 5 times to the left.
  • Throw your head back. Try to touch your right ear to your right shoulder (5 times). Perform the same movement, trying to touch the left shoulder with the left ear (5 times).

It is recommended to include these exercises in morning hygienic exercises, as well as to perform them during the working day. You can do them both while sitting and standing. However, in no case should you make circular rotational movements with your head. This could result in injury.

Prevention of osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine

If you also regularly perform the exercises (listed below) developing and maintaining the tone of the muscles of the back and abdomen, ensuring the normal mobility of all segments of the thoracic spine, then osteochondrosis will not overcome you.

  • I. p. - standing; As you inhale, stand up straight, hands down, feet together. Stretch your arms up - exhale. Bend back and take a deep breath. Then lower your arms, bend forward, slightly rounding your back, lower your shoulders and head - exhale. Repeat 8-10 times.
  • I. p. - sitting on a chair. Put your hands behind your head - inhale, bend back as much as possible 3 - 5 times, resting your shoulder blades on the back of the chair - exhale.
  • I. p. - Get on all fours. Arch your back as much as possible and hold for 2 - 3 seconds in this position. Keep your head straight. Return to i. p. and repeat the same exercise 5 to 7 times.
  • I. p. - Lie on your stomach and put your hands on the floor. Force back as much as possible, trying to tear the body off the floor.
  • I. p. - lying on your stomach, arms along the body. Bend in the thoracic spine, trying to raise your head and legs as much as possible.

These exercises, which relieve stress on the thoracic spine, are advised to be performed throughout the day during short breaks from work. In exercises 3 to 5, breathing is arbitrary. Do the 4th and 5th exercises 5 - 8 times. These exercises can be incorporated into morning exercises. It is very helpful to perform a few movements after work. The main thing is that you do the preventive complex every day, then you will reliably insure yourself against osteochondrosis.

How to sit properly

  • avoid too soft furniture - it is not for you. So that the body weight does not put excessive pressure on the spine, the body must be supported by the ischial tubercles, and this is possible only on hard seats.
  • the following requirements are imposed on the furniture on which you have to sit for a long time: the height of the chair, the chair must correspond to the length of the lower leg - it is necessary that the leg rests on the floor; for people of small stature, it is recommended to substitute a bench under their feet; the maximum seat depth is approximately 2/3 of the hip length.
  • there should be enough legroom under the table so that they do not have to bend too much.
  • if you have to sit for a long time, try about every 15 to 20 minutes. warm up a little, change the position of the legs.
  • make sure that your back is tight against the back of the chair.
  • sit up straight, not tilting your head too much or bending your torso, so as not to strain the muscles of the body.
  • if by the nature of your activity you have to read for a long time every day, make a device on the table (music stand) that supports the book at a sufficient height and inclined towards the table so that you do not have to tilt your upper body forward.
  • When driving a car, try to sit relaxed. It is important that the back is well supported. To do this, place a thin cushion between the lower back and the back of the chair, which will preserve the lumbar bend. Keep your head straight. After several hours of driving, get out of the car and do basic gymnastic exercises: turns, bends, squats - 8-10 times each.
  • in front of the TV screen, do not sit or lie in one position for a long time. Change it periodically, get up to stretch. We sat for 1-1. 5 hours, sit back in a chair or chair, relax your muscles, take a few deep breaths.

How to stand correctly

When a person stands for a long time, the spine experiences significant stress, especially its lumbar region.

  • change the position every 10-15 minutes, while leaning on one or the other leg, this will reduce the load on the spine.
  • if possible, walk on the spot, move.
  • from time to time, bend back, stretching your arms up, take a deep breath. This can somewhat relieve fatigue from the muscles of the shoulder girdle, neck, nape, back.
  • if you wash the dishes, iron the linen, alternately put one or the other leg on a small bench or box. For those suffering from osteochondrosis, it is better to iron while sitting or placing the ironing board so that you do not have to bend low.
  • while cleaning the apartment, working with a vacuum cleaner, also try not to bend low, it is better to extend the hose with additional tubes. When cleaning under the bed, kneel down on one knee under the table.
  • to pick up an object from the floor, squat down or bend over with your knees bent and resting your hand on a chair or table. This way you don't overload the lumbar spine.

How to lie correctly

It is better to sleep not on a soft bed, but not on boards either. The bed should be semi-rigid so that the body, when a person lies on his back, maintains physiological curves (cervical lordosis, thoracic kyphosis and lumbar lordosis). For this:

  • put a shield over the entire width of the bed or sofa, and 5-8 cm thick foam rubber on top. Cover it with a woolen blanket and lay a sheet.
  • when the pain is in the leg, you can put a blanket roller under the knee joint - this reduces the stretching of the sciatic nerve and relieves pain in the leg.
  • when their back hurts, many patients prefer to sleep on their stomachs. Place a small pillow under your lower abdomen to prevent your lower back from flexing too much, which causes even more pain.
  • lovers of sleep on their side can sleep with one foot on the other, and a hand under the head.

Getting out of bed in the morning for patients with acute manifestations of osteochondrosis can be very difficult. Do this:

  1. do some simple arm and leg exercises first;
  2. then if you are sleeping on your back, roll onto your stomach;
  3. lower one leg to the floor;
  4. leaning on this leg and arms, transfer your body weight to your knee and gradually get up without making any sudden movements.

And one more piece of advice. For those who love a bath, dry steam (sauna) is preferable, and during an exacerbation, the sauna will have to be abandoned.

How to properly lift and move weights

One of the main reasons for the exacerbation of osteochondrosis and the formation of hernias of the intervertebral disc, especially in the lumbosacral region, is lifting and carrying heavy loads. Acute, unexpectedly, there is pain in the lower back in cases when weights are lifted abruptly, jerkily, and then a heavy object is moved to the side, while turning the body.

How to properly carry weights

  • Do not carry a heavy load in one hand, especially over a long distance, so as not to overload the spine, separate the load and carry it in both hands. It is unacceptable to hold the weight, sharply bend and unbend (bend back).
  • in general, it is undesirable for a patient with osteochondrosis to lift and carry weights of more than 15 kg. We advise you to purchase a trolley or bag on wheels.
  • for carrying weights over long distances, a backpack with wide straps is very convenient. The weight of a full backpack is distributed over the weight of the spine, and the hands remain free.

How to lift weights correctly

  • put on, if you have, a weightlifter belt or any wide belt;
  • squat down, while the back should be straight, the neck straightened;
  • grabbing a weight with both hands, rise without bending your back.

And finally, the most important advice. If there is acute pain in any part of the spine, you should not self-medicate with pills and ointments. Seek help from a qualified neurologist - you should establish an accurate diagnosis, relieve pain and develop a plan for further treatment.