Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is usually understood as a disease characterized by changes in the tissue of the intervertebral discs. During the degenerative process, the discs themselves are damaged, as well as the joints and vertebrae in this part of the back.
Causes of osteochondrosis
The main cause of the disease, doctors say, is the slowing down of blood circulation in nearby tissues. The lack of blood supply gradually affects the efficiency of metabolic processes - it decreases. After some time, the process spreads to the intervertebral discs. They become thin, undergo deformation, as a result of which they begin to protrude beyond the spine.
In the course of the disease, degenerative changes in the tissue of the intervertebral discs, as well as the vertebrae and joints, occur.
A number of factors can be the impetus for the development of such a pathology:
- Overweight. The risk group in this case is people who do not adhere to proper nutrition, prefer fast food.
- Disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Such diagnoses include rheumatism, scoliosis, flat feet.
- Injuries to the spine or neck.
- Lack of regular physical activity (this causes stagnation of blood in the tissues). Often, cervical osteochondrosis is diagnosed in office workers and drivers.
- Work associated with constant stress or increased nervous tension.
- Excessively high physical activity. In this case, athletes may be under attack.
- Pathology in the development of this department.
Stages of osteochondrosis development
The course of the disease in medicine is usually divided into 4 stages. With a disease of the cervical spine, the symptoms and treatment depend entirely on the degree of tissue damage.
At the initial stage, it responds well and quickly to treatment, but it is difficult to identify early osteochondrosis. This is explained by the fact that the symptoms in the initial stages are relatively weak. In addition, the signs of the disease are often disguised as other diagnoses.
The development of the pathology occurs along the increasing symptoms in 4 stages.
Symptoms and diagnosis of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine
Stage I is characterized by mild symptoms. However, it should be remembered that osteochondrosis is dangerous. A timely detected pathology will allow you to start therapy as soon as possible. Among the first symptoms of osteochondrosis:
- Discomfort, discomfort that can appear in the neck area, as well as spread to the shoulders and arms.
- Headaches. Often people do not pay attention to the indisposition, associating this condition with overwork or stress.
- Neck movement may be slightly limited.
- Short-term visual impairment. They may be accompanied by the appearance of fog before the eyes, loss of picture clarity. Such symptoms are due to ischemia of the areas of the brain that are responsible for vision.
- The sensitivity of the skin in the collar area is slightly reduced.
At stage II, the pathological process is accompanied by protrusion of the vertebral discs. At this time, the collagen fiber at the fibrous ring of the disc is destroyed. There is a narrowing of the intervertebral clefts. During this period, patients complain of the following symptoms:
- Pain affecting the cervical spine is pronounced. Sometimes head movements can be accompanied by a crunching sound in the bones.
- Headaches become long lasting and frequent.
- Loss of skin sensitivity in the collar and shoulders is observed.
- Flies often appear before the eyes.
- Weakness in the arm muscles.
- Neck pains are shooting in nature. Often they give under the scapula.
- Onset of pharyngeal symptoms. Their presence can be explained by the fact that the pathological process in the spine also affects the nerves in the pharynx. Dryness, perspiration, difficulty swallowing may occur. Feels like a lump in the throat.
- Sleep disturbances are possible and often manifest as insomnia.
At the 1st and 2nd stages, the disease is easier to treat, a later diagnosis of osteochondrosis leads to already irreversible destructive processes.
Stage III is evidenced by the destruction of the annulus fibrosus and the formation of a hernia. The list of symptoms includes the following:
- Neck pain. They often spread to the shoulders and to the heart area.
- In some cases, changes occurring in the brain are observed. It can be dizziness, bouts of nausea and vomiting, a feeling of unstable position.
- There is a partial loss of sensitivity of the skin of the head, neck, shoulders and arms.
- Weak tendon reflexes may occur.
Important!With cervical osteochondrosis of the 4th degree, paresis and paralysis of the upper limbs often occur. Moreover, the symptoms of the disease in men are similar to the signs of pathology in women. The only difference that doctors mention is that in women 45-60 years old, the early stages of the disease are often accompanied by a feeling of numbness and tingling of the neck and hands during sleep.
Treatment of osteochondrosis
The most effective method of therapy is an integrated approach. In this case, the patient can be assigned:
- taking medications;
- performing a surgical operation;
- orthopedic therapeutic measures;
- massage courses;
- acupuncture sessions;
- performing specialized therapeutic exercises.
The doctor chooses the appropriate course of treatment after a thorough diagnosis.
Physiotherapy exercises are aimed at restoring the impaired blood circulation in the affected tissues and strengthening the muscles of the entire cervical spine. Do not charge yourself. The doctor should select the appropriate load, since the intensity and duration of the exercises depend on the stage of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, symptoms and the general condition of the patient. However, there are general guidelines:
- Each set of exercises should be performed no more than 2 minutes. Otherwise, the condition of the spine will worsen.
- It is forbidden to make sharp and deep movements (tilts and turns of the head).
The list of the most common exercises includes the following:
- Raising the head.The patient lies on his stomach with his hands resting on the floor. Slowly raise their head and shoulders and linger for 1-2 seconds. Return to starting position. When performing, the back should remain straight.
- Resistance.The palms are placed on the forehead and pressed back. The task is to resist with your head for 25-30 seconds. Then the palms are pressed on the back of the head.
- Head turns.It is necessary to rotate the head in different directions. The number of repetitions in each direction is at least 10 times. If you feel dizzy, stop charging.
Drug administration is conservative. In this case, the doctor can prescribe medications belonging to different groups:
- NSAIDs. They are aimed at relieving pain, swelling of soft tissues.
- Chondroprotectors. They speed up the restoration of cartilage tissue.
- Vitamins of group B. In their presence, metabolism in tissues is accelerated.
- Muscle relaxants. They effectively reduce muscle spasm during illness, which helps relieve pain in osteochondrosis.
- Means that normalize blood viscosity.
Surgery is most often prescribed at 3 or 4 stages of the disease. Often in these cases, the conservative method of treating the disease in women and men does not give the desired result.
Massage and self-massage
Massage of the cervical-collar zone enhances muscle tone and eliminates pain. The intensity of the effect on soft tissues depends on the stage of the disease. The stronger the damage to the cervical vertebrae, the more careful the movements of the masseur should be. At the same time, there are several basic techniques:
- Light strokes.These movements begin the massage session. This involves the palm and the outer edge of the palm. Movements are directed from the neck to the armpits and supraclavicular nodes.
- Squeezes.Place your thumb and forefinger together. The starting position is the edge of the palm across the neck. In this position, the hand is carried along the spine, and then to the joints of the shoulder. The intensity can gradually increase.
- Rubbing.This technique consists of performing circular and rectilinear movements with the thumbs. You need to start from the occipital region, gradually moving to the neck and shoulders.
- Kneading.With this technique, knead soft tissue in a circular motion.
- Vibration.Beating and tapping with the edge of the palm. It is best to end the massage with this movement.
Important! Patients can perform self-massage with circular and stroking movements. In this case, gels and ointments are used, the action of which is aimed at increasing blood flow.
Manual therapy is usually understood as a complex of manual effects on the body. When combining this method with taking medications, it is possible to effectively treat osteochondrosis of the cervical spine.
Manual procedures are usually divided into 3 categories:
- Relaxing massage.It relieves tension in the muscles located near the spine.
- Mobilization.This technique is based on extraction.
- Manipulation.It includes forced movements, thanks to which the work of the joints is restored.
Acupuncture is an alternative medicine, but it has a good therapeutic effect. During the procedure, delicate needles are applied to the sensitive points of the body. This enhances metabolic processes in the body and improves immunity. Thanks to this:
- pain sensations decrease;
- tissue edema is reduced;
- the general condition of a person improves.
For cervical osteochondrosis, it is sometimes advised to use orthopedic pillows. Their action is to ensure the correct position of the head of the sleeping person. This prevents compression of the cervical artery and nerve roots.
Important!However, doctors emphasize that an orthopedic pillow is not suitable as an independent method of treatment. It can hinder the development of pathology or supplement the action of drugs, therapeutic exercises and other methods.
Folk remedies and recipes
Before using this or that traditional medicine, it is imperative to undergo a diagnosis and visit your doctor. It is undesirable to treat cervical osteochondrosis on your own at home, since such actions can worsen the condition.
In addition to medication, exercise therapy, and physical therapy, the following recipes can be used:
- Warming up.It is recommended to warm the affected area with mustard plasters, a tissue bag filled with warm salt, alcohol or pepper plasters. This procedure relieves pain and inflammation.
- Potatoes with honey.The potatoes are peeled and grated. The mass is mixed with natural honey in proportions 1: 1. The resulting mixture is applied to the affected area in the form of a night compress. You need to repeat this action 2-3 times a week.
- Horseradish bandage.This will require a fresh horseradish leaf, which is pre-doused with boiling water and slightly cooled. The sheet is applied to the neck with the inside and fixed with a bandage or cloth. The compress should be in this state all night.
It is impossible to identify a general list of contraindications, since in each case the doctor individually chooses how to treat the disease. Recommendations often include the following:
- When drug therapy, you should pay attention to the composition of the drugs. Patients may experience an allergic reaction.
- Manual exposure is not recommended during pregnancy, after traumas, in acute inflammatory diseases. Do not prescribe this method of treatment before surgery.
- Acupuncture is prohibited in case of acute infection, detection of neoplasms (both malignant and benign), failure (hepatic, renal, cardiac).
In order to prevent osteochondrosis of the SHO, a person should adhere to simple but extremely important rules:
- Fight excess weight (if any). For men and women who experience back problems, the critical excess is 10 kg.
- Reducing the load on the spine. If a person cannot completely eliminate heavy physical exertion, then weights should be worn alternately in the hands. After the load, it is worth lying down or hanging on the horizontal bar.
- Use of an orthopedic pillow.
- Prevention of a sedentary lifestyle. In many cases, the first signs of the disease in men can be eliminated by playing sports.
- Formation of proper nutrition.
Diet. Nutrition for osteochondrosis of the spine
Once the disease has been identified and therapy has begun, the patient will need to follow a diet. Thanks to this, the body will receive the required amount of trace elements and vitamins, and the body will have the strength to fight the pathology.
Important!The principle of specialized meals is to change 3 meals a day to 5 (or 6) meals a day. This will make it easier to digest food and not cause discomfort.
The diet should definitely include:
- a large number of cereals;
- fruits and vegetables (except radishes, celery and onions);
- meat (any lean);
- fish (preferably lean);
- dairy products (milk, kefir, unsweetened yogurt, cottage cheese);
- flour products;
Alcohol, smoked and fatty foods, semi-finished products and canned food should be completely abandoned.