Osteochondrosis is a degenerative disease of the spine, manifested in deformation of bone tissue and intervertebral discs.
The first symptoms may appear as early as 20-30 years, but more often the disease becomes noticeable by 40 years. It is divided into three categories - osteochondrosis of the lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine.
The causes of the onset and development of cervical osteochondrosis are divided into the following factors:
- hereditary predisposition to the disease;
- impaired metabolism, intoxication of the body, infectious diseases;
- excess weight and increased stress on all parts of the spine, including the cervical;
- lack of fluid, vitamins or microelements, poor quality nutrition;
- spinal injuries, bruises, fractures;
- climatic or environmental conditions that adversely affect the body;
- incorrect posture, curvature of the spine;
- flat feet, use of high-heeled shoes;
- sedentary, sedentary lifestyle;
- high activity, requiring frequent changes in body position;
- frequent physical activity on the spine;
- staying in an uncomfortable position for a long time;
- stressful situations, nervous overstrain.
The occurrence of osteochondrosis is often associated with professional activities. Constant physical activity, high level of mobility, as well as sedentary work form the main risk group.
Another category of people prone to cervical osteochondrosis is formed due to the objective and external conditions of exposure. Heredity, climate, frequent hypothermia - all this contributes to an additional load on the spine. It also includes malnutrition and a lack of necessary substances that can prevent osteochondrosis in the cervical spine.
Incorrect sleep position, prolonged immobility, especially in an uncomfortable position, wearing uncomfortable shoes - all this forms another risk group. This also includes pregnant women, especially when carrying several children or an undeveloped musculoskeletal system.
Stages of osteochondrosis development
The development of osteochondrosis is divided into four stages. The initial is characterized by the development of the pathology of the nucleus pulposus. Lack of moisture and stress on the cervical spine lead to deformation of the vertebrae and intervertebral discs, and fibrous cracks appear.
Symptoms are usually absent at this stage. Their manifestation is reduced to minor pain during prolonged uncomfortable position of the body, as well as some discomfort during active movement.
By the beginning of the second stage of cervical osteochondrosis, the height of the intervertebral discs decreases. This leads to a decrease in the distance between the vertebrae, sagging of muscles and ligaments.
At this stage, the mobility of the affected vertebrae increases. This is expressed in expressive painful sensations with certain movements and positions. Discomfort can also manifest itself under certain loads.
At the third stage of development of cervical osteochondrosis, prolapses and protrusions of intervertebral discs are formed. Often, the disease is accompanied by dislocations and arthrosis of the corresponding joints.
This stage of cervical osteochondrosis is often accompanied by stiffness in some movements. Lack of mobility is also manifested, tingling and numbness are felt in the limbs. Neck pain becomes distinct.
The fourth stage of cervical osteochondrosis is characterized by an attempt by the body to independently correct the increased mobility of the vertebrae. In the places of their contacts, osteophytes are formed, focused on trying to fix the desired position of the spinal column.
These bony formations often lead to nerve entrapment. Fibrous ankylosis begins to develop in the intervertebral discs and joints. When the nerve endings are pinched, the symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine intensify. However, if there are no pinches, the signs of the disease may disappear altogether.
Symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine at different stages are manifested in different ways. Many patients in the early stages do not seek medical help.
Cases when consultation with a specialist is necessary include the following signs:
- obsessive, not disappearing at night, pain in the neck, in the area of the eyes and ears, on the back of the head and in the shoulder girdle;
- frequent pain in the arms, aggravated by physical exertion, muscle weakness;
- Difficulty moving hands, decreased sensitivity and mobility of hands and fingers;
- numbness, burning, tingling in the hands and feet;
- in the morning, there is a tension in the neck muscles, a feeling of "laziness" arises, and low mobility of the neck is found;
- pain when turning and tilting the head, periodically there is a throbbing pain in the neck and back of the head;
- headache appears, localized in the occiput and spreading to the crown and temples;
- frequent dizziness, darkening in the eyes, fainting may occur with a sharp turn of the head;
- tinnitus, the appearance of "flies" before the eyes, decreased visual acuity and hearing, numbness of the tongue;
- heart pain, the intensity of which depends on the posture and is not relieved by nitroglycerin;
- growth of connective tissue in the cervical spine.
The intensity of the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis can manifest itself in different ways. Much depends on the localization of complications - depending on which vertebrae the nerve endings are pinched, the symptoms will also differ.
If the symptoms of osteochondrosis do not allow you to live and work fully, you must see a doctor.
If pronounced symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis are found, they turn to a local therapist. It can help determine the source of pain and provide referral to a neurologist for further evaluation. A neurologist, depending on the diagnosis, is referred to in narrower specializations.
Vertebroneurologist deals with all issues in the treatment of the spine. A chiropractor can also help determine the diagnosis. In case of acute pain, they are referred to a trauma surgeon.
The process of diagnosing osteochondrosis can be carried out manually.
However, one of the following special procedures is used for the final diagnosis:
- x-ray of the cervical spine;
- neurological examination for limb sensitivity and reflexes;
- computed tomography of the cervical spine (CT);
- nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR);
- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Doppler ultrasound or duplex scanning can be prescribed to identify the state of the vessels in osteochondrosis of the cervical spine. It is emphasized that only an appropriate specialist can diagnose the disease.
Self-diagnosis and treatment of cervical osteochondrosis is not allowed.
How to treat osteochondrosis of the cervical spine?
Treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is prescribed in the form of complex therapy.
The following methods are included in the general procedure:
- taking medications that eliminate symptoms and promote recovery;
- physiotherapy - water procedures, electrophoresis and other methods allow you to influence the spine in the right way;
- therapeutic gymnastics is considered an integral way of treating osteochondrosis of the cervical spine.
In the course of treatment, alternative, highly specialized methods can also be used - reflexotherapy, massage and manual therapy, osteopathy, hirudo and apitherapy.
The main aspect of the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis is the integrated approach. Depending on the stage of the disease, the main course can last 1-3 months. Additionally, restorative and strengthening therapy is prescribed, it can stretch for another year.
In case of exacerbations of osteochondrosis, first aid is usually reduced to taking medications. For severe pain, use standard pain relievers.
If the effect of such drugs is absent, they turn to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs, however, can have a negative effect on the gastrointestinal tract. Without consulting a doctor, their use is allowed only in extreme cases.
The intensity of pain in osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is also relieved with anti-inflammatory pain relievers.
In case of exacerbation of osteochondrosis, physiotherapy exercises are not used - the load can lead to an even greater complication. If the disease has already been diagnosed and the course of treatment is prescribed, follow the doctor's recommendations. Typically, therapy includes a number of tools used to urgently eliminate symptoms.
If this is the first manifestation of the disease - do not postpone a visit to the doctor. Medicines can relieve pain, but full diagnosis and treatment will be needed to prevent relapse.
The main cause of cervical osteochondrosis is the stress on this part of the spine. They can be expressed both in a prolonged immobility with an uncomfortable posture, and in too intense mobility with a poorly developed musculoskeletal system.
Given this aspect, gymnastics and physical exercises are the key therapy in the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis. You can do them in the morning and during the day, some can be done at work.
The whole complex of actions is designed to strengthen the musculoskeletal system, improve blood circulation and restore the mobility of the vertebrae. Gymnastics can be used not only for treatment, but also for the prevention of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine.
Seated and Standing Exercises
Gymnastics for the treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine in the sitting and standing position includes the following actions:
- the palm is placed on the forehead, pressed on it with the head, opposing the resistance of the hand to pressure, the procedure is repeated 3-4 times for 7-10 seconds;
- a similar process is done with the back of the head - the head is pressed on the opposing palm, straining the neck muscles;
- then the procedure is performed in the same way with the right and left sides of the head, putting a hand to the temple;
- as an alternative to the hand for the same exercises, you can use a wall, in this case they rest against it with their forehead or the back of the head and press for a few seconds;
- the head is thrown back, overcoming the tension of the neck muscles, slowly tilted forward until the chin reaches the sternum, repeat 5-6 times;
- stand (sit) straight, turning their shoulders, slowly turning their head to the maximum possible right and left, repeat 5-6 times;
- the chin is lowered to the neck, in this position the head is also slowly turned left and right 5-6 times;
- the head is slightly thrown back, tilted the head to the left and right, trying to reach the corresponding shoulder with the ear, perform 5 times.
Exercise for the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis is repeated regularly. It is especially relevant for a sedentary lifestyle or for a long time in an uncomfortable position.
Circular movements of the head are not suitable for charging; such exercises can cause neck injuries.
Exercises in the supine position for cervical osteochondrosis consist of the following actions:
- lie on their backs, stretching their legs, then pull them to the chest, clasping them with their hands, slowly raise their head, touching their knees with their forehead, after which they also slowly return to their original position;
- arms are widely spread to the sides and, raising the body, reach with the right palm with the left and vice versa;
- lying on the stomach with outstretched legs and arms, raise the head and shoulders, leaning on the lower part of the body;
- in the same position, the head is turned left and right, each time returning to its original position.
Exercises lying down for the treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine are performed 4-5 times, the last - 8-10. In the course of performing any actions, they monitor the sensations; if pain occurs, the intensity of the load is reduced.
In the treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, taking medications is aimed at eliminating the symptoms of the disease. Their supporting role is focused on reducing pain, replenishing vitamins, and increasing tissue regeneration.
The drugs used in the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis are divided into the following categories:
- drugs to improve blood supply;
- increase in the regeneration of cartilaginous tissues.
In the treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, the general list of prescribed drugs includes tablets, ointments, creams, in some cases, injections are also prescribed. In case of significant pain, drugs are used to relieve pain and blockade of nerve endings.
In the absence of pain and destructive changes, taking medications can be completely unnecessary.
In the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis, traditional medicine also offers an integrated approach. In addition to decoctions and tinctures, ointments based on herbs and products are used. Compresses are also made.
The main goal in treatment with folk remedies is to warm up the affected area, as well as give the body the necessary vitamins for recovery.
The use of prescriptions must be coordinated with the doctor - some may interfere with the prescribed drugs or procedures.
Decoctions and tinctures
The following decoctions are prepared for oral administration in the treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine:
- celery root is chopped through a grater, 3 grams are poured with a liter of boiling water, insisted for 8 hours, filtered, consumed before meals three times a day, a teaspoon;
- sunflower root is finely crushed, a glass of raw materials is poured with three liters of water, boiled for half an hour, taken after meals in small quantities, helps to remove salts from the body;
- 2 tablespoons of yarrow flowers are poured with boiling water, infused for 30-40 minutes, drunk a tablespoon three times a day, used as an anesthetic, anti-inflammatory and sedative;
- 3 tablespoons of burdock are crushed, poured with 250 grams of boiling water, insisted for two hours, a spoonful of honey is filtered and added, a quarter of a glass is drunk 4 times a day before meals;
- using a meat grinder, grind 3 large pitted lemons, 4 cloves of garlic, pour the mixture with two liters of boiling water, drink on an empty stomach, shaking the jar beforehand.
Lotions and compresses are actively used in the treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine:
- sprinkle cottage cheese with vinegar, mix and make a compress on a sore spot, wrapping it in a warm scarf, you can leave it overnight;
- add a gram of propolis, 50 grams of aloe extract, mustard powder to half a liter of vodka, soak the dressing with a solution, fix it and leave it overnight;
- one potato is passed through a grater, mixed with two tablespoons of honey, rubbed into a sore spot, and then wrapped in a warm scarf for the night;
- a tablespoon of eucalyptus is poured with a glass of water, boiled for 5 minutes, a tablespoon of honey is added, the mixture is applied to the sore spot for two hours.
The following recipes are used for rubbing sore spots with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine:
- the flowers of the mother-and-stepmother, along with the stems, are poured with ammonia, they are allowed to stand in a dark place for a month, they are used to lubricate the sore spot;
- prepare a mixture of ginger juice and pharmacy calendula tincture, for sensitive skin it is diluted with water in a 1: 1 ratio, used for rubbing before charging, helps to relieve inflammation and improve blood circulation;
- half a pack of butter is mixed with a tablespoon of flour and an egg, then a spoonful of vinegar is added, the mixture is infused for several days in a dark place, the resulting film is thrown away, the solution is used for grinding in case of acute pain.
In case of cervical osteochondrosis, massage can be an integral part of complex therapy. In this case, a referral to a specialist is prescribed by the neurologist himself. In case of an independent decision about massage, it is recommended to first consult a doctor.
Taking into account the specificity of the disease, massage with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine should be treated with caution. The procedure is prescribed only with a diagnosed disease, on the recommendation of a doctor and the presence of pain in the neck.
Massage contraindications for cervical osteochondrosis:
- there are tumors in the body, regardless of localization;
- active tuberculosis;
- not cured venereal diseases;
- skin diseases at the site of inflammation, including moles, warts, cracks, abrasions;
- for diseases of the circulatory system, massage is included in the therapy at the discretion of the doctor;
- aneurysms, ostiomyelitis.
If the procedure is assigned through a specialist, no action is required.
Self-massage for osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is carried out taking into account clear instructions and rules:
- capture area - from the hair growth zone to the level below the shoulders;
- you can act with one or two hands simultaneously, depending on convenience;
- a certain sequence of actions must be followed.
The procedure for performing massage for osteochondrosis of the cervical spine includes the following steps:
- for half a minute, with a tightly pressed palm, stroke the skin in the area of inflammation;
- the movements are continued with pressure with the edge of the palm or with the pads of the fingers;
- fingers continue rubbing, pulling the skin from the sides to the spine;
- the skin is kneaded already with the capture of the muscles, the movements are maintained at an intense level, but without painful sensations;
- To complete, repeat the first action with a gentle palm rub.
It is recommended to repeat each action 6-7 times, in time it takes half a minute of unhurried movements. With osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, self-massage can be difficult, therefore, they turn to friends or relatives for help. However, a specialist remains recommended.
Complex treatment of cervical osteochondrosis includes dietary nutrition. It is focused on improving metabolism, as well as saturating the body with the necessary minerals and vitamins that contribute to the restoration and regeneration of tissues.
The basis of the diet for osteochondrosis of the cervical spine include:
- dairy and fermented milk products;
- low-fat poultry meat, fish;
- fresh vegetables and fruits;
- nuts and seeds;
The recommended recipes for osteochondrosis of the cervical spine include fish and meat jellies, jellied meat, aspic dishes. Pay attention to the use of virgin olive oil. Apply it without heat treatment. The food itself is preferable to boil, bake or steam.
Meals should be divided by 5-6 times. For proper absorption, it is recommended to drink from half a liter of liquid per day. Preference is given to pure and mineral water, dried fruit compotes, unsweetened fruit drinks, herbal tea.
For osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, limit the consumption of the following products:
- flour and confectionery products;
- fatty foods, strong meat broths;
- spicy and salty foods or condiments;
- sugar and high-sugar fruits;
- canned food, smoked products;
With osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, the consumption of strong black tea, coffee, alcoholic and carbonated products is also limited.
Complications and Dangers
Advanced cervical osteochondrosis can lead to the following complications:
- herniated intervertebral discs;
- protrusion and kyphosis;
- radiculitis, salt deposits in the spine;
- spinal cord stroke;
- limb atrophy due to insufficient blood supply, paralysis.
The risk of complications in cervical osteochondrosis arises in the absence of treatment of the disease. Lack of medical care, non-compliance with the prescribed course of treatment, ignoring recommendations - all this provokes new pathologies and can end up with complete disability of the patient.
Contraindications for osteochondrosis
If there is a suspicion of the development of cervical osteochondrosis or the disease has already been diagnosed, the following actions are not allowed:
- to lift and carry weights - loads on the spine do not contribute to treatment in any way;
- to actively engage in sports - running, walking, swimming are useful, however, excessive loads with simulators will only worsen the situation;
- to lead an immobile lifestyle - a prolonged absence of movement, warm-up, walking in the fresh air has a detrimental effect on the general condition;
- overeat - often osteochondrosis of the cervical spine develops precisely because of excess weight, it is not worth contributing to the aggravation of the situation;
- consume a lot of salt and alcohol - salty and spicy foods, as well as alcoholic products should be completely excluded from the diet;
- careless movements and crunching of joints - such actions often bring relief, however, they wear out and deform the contact surfaces of the vertebrae;
- sleep on a high pillow - in this position, the muscles are tense all night, which only complicates the disease;
- sleep in a soft bed - with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, it is recommended to rest on the floor or on boards;
- wear uncomfortable shoes, use high heels - the lack of full support increases the tension of the spine, often provoking its deformation.
Also, with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, self-diagnosis of the disease and self-medication are not allowed. The course of therapy should be prescribed and monitored by a specialist. Without this, it is not worth hoping for recovery at all, in most cases there will be complications.
Folk healers should be avoided, there is no need to set and stretch in the spine. Such actions can result in serious injuries and complications. Folk recipes are also used only after consultation with a specialist.
The causes of cervical osteochondrosis in most cases are associated with an incorrect lifestyle.
To prevent and prevent such a disease, attention is paid to the following aspects:
- exclude hypodynamia - many sports are suitable for this, including walking, jogging, skiing, swimming, cycling, as well as gymnastics and regular exercise;
- during sedentary work, attention is paid to posture (straight back, relaxed shoulders), standard position of arms and legs, as well as support of the spine from the side of the seat;
- while maintaining a stationary position for a long time, pause every 45 minutes to warm up and restore blood circulation;
- an elastic mattress, preferably orthopedic, and a pillow that is not too high is selected for sleep;
- when lifting weights, the load is distributed to the legs and arms, it is preferable to lift the weight from a half-squat, jerks are avoided;
- adhere to the diet - a correct diet and fluid intake support metabolism and provide the body with the necessary trace elements.
Relaxation is also referred to the prevention of cervical osteochondrosis. Stress and nervous tension should be avoided, often the development of the disease is associated with psychosomatics. Regular visits to the masseur are recommended.