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 they are observed to dry out and compact.
In the vertebral column there are 7 cervical vertebrae, consisting of a body, processes and a bony arch; in the center of the vertebra there is a hole in which the spinal cord is located. The individual elements of the spine are interconnected by intervertebral discs formed by the nucleus, the fibrous ring and the interlayer - the hyaline plate (cartilage). The cervical vertebrae, with the smallest disc thickness, fit tightly to each other; the muscles in the neck area are rather underdeveloped, as a result of which, with regular effort, displacement of the discs can occur, in which the vessels and nerve trunks are compressed.
The disease in its development goes through several stages, during which the spine undergoes pathological changes:
1 degree of osteochondrosis
It is characterized by the beginning of the destruction of the intervertebral discs. Cracks are formed in the fibrous ring, the strength and elasticity of the disc are disturbed, its height decreases, as a result of which the nerve roots are compressed. A characteristic aching pain appears. Sometimes in stage 1 (preclinical) such pain may be absent, and osteochondrosis occurs with moderate neck discomfort.
2 degrees of osteochondrosis
If 1st degree osteochondrosis was not treated or the treatment was not effective, a chronic condition occurs, which is 2nd degree osteochondrosis. The pain becomes constant, the destruction and compaction of the intervertebral disc continues and leads to small dislocations of the cervical vertebrae. With cervical osteochondrosis at this stage, drooping head syndrome can develop. This syndrome is characterized by severe pain and the person must keep their head in a fixed position to reduce the pain.
3 degrees of osteochondrosis
The fibrous ring is almost destroyed, which leads to complications of osteochondrosis - protrusion (fusion) of the intervertebral disc or intervertebral hernia. At stage 3 of osteochondrosis, the intensity of pain may decrease, as the affected cartilage tissue in the intervertebral disc simply no longer exists, which means there is no source of pain, but pinching of the nerve roots remains, thus pain does not disappear entirely.
Causes of cervical osteochondrosis
With age, the intervertebral disc core loses its moisture reserves and also becomes less elastic. Since the metabolism slows down significantly after 50 years, the regeneration processes in the discs with a weak blood supply stop. At a young age, hypodynamia plays the main role in the onset of osteochondrosis in the cervical spine - a passive lifestyle, the absence of properly organized physical activity.
Factors contributing to circulatory disorders in the cervical vertebrae and intervertebral space are:
- driving a car for a long time;
- work on the computer, sitting for a long time in any position;
- regular weight lifting;
- working conditions involving sudden movements, turning the neck;
- violation of posture;
- neck and head injuries;
- displacement of the disc following sports training;
- overweight, leading to a high load on the intervertebral discs and dysfunction of the cervicothoracic spine;
- alcohol abuse, smoking, unhealthy diet (due to a detrimental effect on metabolic processes), stress;
- hypothermia of the neck (for example, in the absence of a scarf during a cold period);
- sleeping on high or too soft pillows;
- heredity (family history of spinal diseases).
Common symptoms of neck osteochondrosis can include:
- dizziness, migraine-like head pain (acute), as well as dull, pressing pain in the neck (neck pain), which may increase with movement of the head;
- low back pain (sharp pain that spreads to the back or arm);
- burning sensation in the back, heart;
- stiffness in the neck, arms (especially the hands);
- reduced mobility and numbness of the neck in the morning;
- a pulsating sensation in the back of the head;
- temporary darkness in the eyes, noise in the ear canal, sometimes fainting;
- thickening of the skin in the spine due to the proliferation of connective tissue.
Most often, the doctor's diagnosis sounds like "2nd degree osteochondrosis of the cervical spine". Why immediately the second? The fact is that the first degree cannot be diagnosed due to too weak symptoms. During a preliminary examination, the doctor determines how much the spine is affected. For this, the patient is examined in different positions: in a horizontal position, sitting, standing, inclined. By counting the vertebrae, the specialist is guided by the anatomical norms and determines the degree of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine. The examination is not limited to visual examination: the spinal deformity is easily palpable by hand. Palpation allows you to determine the localization of pain and the strength of tension of the paravertebral muscles. However, in order for the treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine to bring its positive results, it is necessary to undergo a hardware examination. Computed tomography, X-rays, MRI - all these methods make the diagnosis perfectly accurate and allow you to choose the optimal method of treatment.
How to cure osteochondrosis of the cervical spine? This is the wrong wording of the question, more correctly: how to treat osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, since it is completely impossible to cure osteochondrosis. But it is quite possible to stop the process of destruction of cartilage tissue, intervertebral discs, eliminate pain and discomfort. But this is only possible if the treatment was started at an early stage of the disease. Therefore, it is so important to see a doctor in a timely manner.
Treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine should be comprehensive.
The treatment regimen can be presented as follows:
- drugs from the NSAID group (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to relieve inflammation;
- antispasmodics - to relieve spasm;
- pain relievers;
- vitamins of group B;
- physiotherapy exercises (physical therapy) - eliminates pain and inflammation;
- therapeutic massage - restores blood supply, relieves tension;
- acupuncture and acupressure.
But the most important method of treating cervical osteochondrosis is dosed physical activity.
To prevent the development of cervical osteochondrosis, it is recommended:
- when you work sedentary, be sure to take five minute breaks every hour, avoid stress on the neck,
- do not make sudden head movements, monitor posture,
- avoid hypothermia,
- exercise, swim, eat well,
- sleep should be on a firm mattress and on a low pillow: the bending angle of the neck should not be more than 15 degrees,
- after 25 years, avoid shock loads on the spine (jumping, running).