Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine - causes, symptoms and treatment

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is a complex degenerative lesion of the structures of the spine at the level of the cervical spine, affecting the intervertebral disc, osteochondral structures, and the blood supply system. As the disease progresses, pathological changes in the spine occur, and it loses its function.

Osteochondrosis is an insidious disease. At the first stages, there are no symptoms, and only over time, when the process becomes chronic, does the disease make itself felt. During this period, permanent osteochondrosis develops, and irreversible changes in the structures of the vertebrae begin. As in other cases, it is important not to miss the moment and start treatment on time. How to recognize this ailment in yourself?

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

Symptoms of osteochondrosis

The symptomatic complex accompanying the disease is enormous. But in general, all the complaints that patients present at a doctor's appointment are similar.

  • Dizziness.Dizziness with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is a "visiting card" of this disease. Depending on the severity of the pathological process, dizziness (vertigo) appears constantly or sporadically. In the first case, we are talking about a complex and long-term or acute course of the disease. In the vast majority of cases, the symptom accompanies the patient in the first half of the day, especially after sleep.

    The cause of vertigo is the defeat of the cerebellum - the main "coordinator" of the human body in space.

    Patients have a question: why do they feel dizzy and how to treat this condition? When the intervertebral disc and surrounding structures become inflamed, they compress the arteries that feed the brain, including the cerebellum. Nerve tissue is sensitive to nutritional deficiencies and responds with impairments. This symptom itself cannot be cured; the disease itself is subject to treatment. Fortunately, therapies in use today relieve vertigo.

  • Headache.Another frequent companion of a patient with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine. Such a manifestation is included in the so-called. vertebrobasilar syndrome. Pain manifestations vary in intensity and nature. Patients describe them as squeezing, bursting, pulsating. Localization is not typical, but in "classic" cases of vertebrobasilar insufficiency, pain is felt in the occipital region. Also, discomfort passes through the head to the forehead (in medical practice, this is called the "legionnaire's gesture": pain spreading from the back of the head to the forehead).

    Important!It is hardly possible to independently determine the source of pain. The same pain occurs with hypertension, migraine and other pathologies. Therefore, with periodic discomfort, you should not postpone a visit to the doctor.

    The pain syndrome reaches its greatest intensity in the morning hours, after sleep. This is easy to explain: at night, the mobility of the neck is minimal, stagnation and aggravation of inflammation occur, and the blood supply to the brain deteriorates.

  • Visual impairment.Headache, dizziness with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine - symptoms that occur in patients everywhere. Less commonly, visual impairments are found. Their occurrence testifies in favor of a "running" process and almost guaranteed to determine the presence of vertebrobasilar insufficiency.

    In relatively mild cases, everything is limited to haze in front of the eyes and a slight decrease in visual acuity. These symptoms are not permanent and disappear as the patient's condition improves. Another manifestation from the side of the eyes is photopsy.

    Photopsy is a simple visual hallucination in the form of a flashing point, zigzag, spot, line, etc. This alarming manifestation indicates the involvement of the occipital lobe of the brain in the pathological process. It is she who is responsible for the final formation of the "picture" before the eyes. Due to the compression of the basilar arteries that feed the occipital lobe of the brain, photopsies occur.

    By themselves, photopsies in the eyes are not dangerous, but you should not neglect the examination by an ophthalmologist. the symptom is nonspecific. Perhaps we are talking about pathologies of the retina. Only when eye disorders are excluded should neurological causes be sought.

    In the most severe cases, scotomas develop - areas of loss of visual fields.

  • Pain in the neck.Visual impairment, headaches, dizziness with cervical osteochondrosis - symptoms are frequent, but they are not limited to them. The patient is also often prone to neck pain. This is a common but non-specific symptom. Angina, myalgia, etc. also accompanied by neck pain. Cervical migraine is more indicative. This is a whole symptomatic complex, including intense neck pain, headache in the back of the head, numbness of the skin of the back of the head and neck, dizziness, nausea, and sometimes vomiting.
  • Radiating (radiating) pain.With pain in the neck, discomfort radiates to the shoulders, elbows, clavicle.
  • Radicular syndromes.Associated with compression of the inflamed disc of the nerve roots. They are extremely rare (no more than 8% per 1000 cases). The manifestations are different: hoarseness, paresis of the tongue, weakness of the muscles of the arms, etc.
  • Neck mobility disordersand related structures. With a far-reaching process, the motor activity of the neck is disrupted, and the patient also experiences difficulties with hand movements.

In the clinical picture of the disease, the most common triad of symptoms is: dizziness with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, recurrent headache, neck pain. Similar manifestations are found in most patients. Answering the question "can the head spin with cervical osteochondrosis", it is logical to assert that not only can, but will. Otherwise, the course of pathology differs from patient to patient.

Causes of osteochondrosis

Speaking about the reasons contributing to the development of osteochondrosis, it is worth considering them together with risk factors.

The answer to the question "cervical osteochondrosis from what happens? "includes many aspects. People with a reduced level of physical activity are most often susceptible to the development of the disease. This group includes office workers, the elderly, bedridden patients. Accordingly, the following reasons stand out:

  1. Disruption of physical activity.Sleepiness is a direct path to back problems.
  2. Age.In the older generation, dystrophic processes in bone structures occur much more often. Paradoxically, children are also at risk: poor posture does not add health to the spine.
  3. Prolonged stay in a fixed position.We are talking about a long stay in the supine position (as in the case of bedridden patients) and sitting (in office workers).

Hard physical labor is dangerous. Although the lumbosacral spine is at greater risk for excessive stress, the cervical spine is also at risk. This includes both physical work and sports, especially swimming, skydiving, diving, etc.

Careful monitoring of the health of the musculoskeletal system is also necessary for those taking corticosteroid drugs. Hormones negatively affect bones and joints, "washing out" calcium, reduce the strength of the skeleton, and weaken the muscle corset.

Diagnosis of osteochondrosis

In the diagnosis of cervical osteochondrosis, it is important to choose an understanding specialist. Let's make an analogy. In therapeutic practice, the diagnosis of acute respiratory infections is considered "junk", since this is the most general definition for all viral infections and doctors "write off" anything on it. The same is the case with cervical osteochondrosis. It is not so easy to recognize it; this requires a fair amount of care and the appointment of a number of diagnostic measures. Therefore, if a doctor immediately and without checking diagnoses osteochondrosis, this is a reason to doubt his professionalism.

Differential diagnosis is performed with hernia, myalgia, etc.

The first doctor to see is a general practitioner. The therapist is a kind of "navigator". He conducts initial diagnostics and provides the necessary referrals. The diagnosis and treatment of cervical osteochondrosis itself is carried out by two specialists: an orthopedist and a neurologist (not to be confused with a nephrologist who treats the kidneys).

The diagnosis of cervical osteochondrosis is not very difficult. The system of events includes:

  • Taking anamnesis.In other words, oral questioning of the patient. The doctor asks the patient for complaints, their nature, duration, probable causes, etc. The patient's task is to tell as fully and honestly as possible about his condition: about dizziness from osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, and about visual impairments, if any, etc. Further tactics of examination depend on this.
  • Functional tests.Performed by both neurologists and orthopedists. They consist in the definition of radicular syndromes, the degree of mobility of the spine.
  • Physical research. Easier - palpation. The doctor carefully probes the affected areas and monitors the pain response. Palpation is important in determining cervical migraine.
  • Instrumental diagnostic methods.Play a primary role.
    1. Radiography is used to visualize bone and cartilage formations. It provides relatively little information, but it allows you to assess the condition of the vertebrae in general terms. The disadvantage of the method is the lack of visualization of soft tissues. It is simply impossible to distinguish osteochondrosis from a hernia with complete confidence.
    2. Doppler ultrasonography of the neck vessels. It makes it possible to determine the quality of blood flow in the vessels of the neck. With cervical osteochondrosis, the numbers are much lower, however, as in the first case, the method allows only to state the presence of pathology.
    3. MRI diagnostics. Currently the only and most informative research. Allows you to see the spine in detail and identify even minor changes. In the case of differential diagnosis, this study has no alternative.
  • Laboratory research.Are slightly less important. Usually, everything is limited to a general blood test to detect the inflammatory process.

All the described diagnostic methods are not used very often at once (although this is not always justified). If necessary, if there is reason to assume complications of osteochondrosis, additional consultations of a rheumatologist, cardiologist, etc. are appointed.

Important!If severe neurological symptoms are observed, including numbness of the hands, other radicular syndromes, impaired neck mobility, visual impairment, etc. MRI diagnostics is indispensable.

There is a high probability of developing a hernia of the cervical spine, and this is a much more dangerous pathology. Most polyclinics do not have an MRI machine, but doctors have the opportunity to send a patient for this examination to another clinic free of charge. But professionals often neglect their responsibilities. You should not refuse the examination because of the laziness and carelessness of the doctor, the patient is the first person interested in his health, therefore it is necessary to demand a referral.

Treatment of osteochondrosis

At the first manifestations of health problems, the patient usually goes for help not to the hospital, but to the Internet with requests: "how to treat vertigo in cervical osteochondrosis, photopsies, headaches, etc. "This is a disastrous practice and a dead-end path. It is impossible to independently cure cervical osteochondrosis, the patient only risks lubricating the symptoms and complicating the work of specialists.

In addition, the symptom is not subject to therapy. Therefore, it is not necessary to treat dizziness with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, treatment must eliminate the source of the problem.

The therapy is carried out in a comprehensive manner, with the use of medications, physiotherapy, physiotherapy exercises.

The basis of drug therapy is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in the form of tablets and ointments. These drugs for cervical osteochondrosis and dizziness help along with the relief of pain, since the main cause of vertigo is compression of the arteries that feed the cerebellum. Specific names are selected only by a doctor.

Treatment of vertigo in cervical osteochondrosis involves taking medications that improve the blood supply to the brain. They must be taken with caution and only as directed by a doctor, since such drugs have a lot of contraindications and side effects. Taking drugs of these two groups can answer the question of how to get rid of dizziness with cervical osteochondrosis. They will help restore normal blood flow.

With a pronounced pain syndrome, local blockades with a complex of drugs are prescribed. In some cases, surgical treatment is indicated, but this is rather an exception.

In most cases, conservative methods are sufficient to relieve dizziness in cervical osteochondrosis and other symptoms.

If photopsy, dizziness with cervical osteochondrosis is observed, treatment involves fixing the neck with a brace (Shants' splint).

Often, the cause of neurological (and especially visual) symptoms lies not in the structures of the spine itself, but in spasmodic muscles that compress the vessels. Hence, photopsies, dizziness with cervical osteochondrosis: the treatment of such conditions involves the use of muscle relaxants. Massage is prescribed with caution.

In the period of remission, physical therapy classes and visits to physiotherapy sessions are indicated. Depending on the nature and degree of development of the pathological process, it can be electrophoresis, ultrasound, magnetotherapy, etc. Appointments are carried out at the discretion of the treating specialist.

Osteochondrosis is not a harmless disease. Over time, it destroys the structures of the spine, causing a lot of health-threatening conditions, and significantly impairs the quality of life. It is important to see a doctor on time. It is important for the patient to understand that dizziness and nausea with cervical osteochondrosis are not subject to therapy, treatment is aimed at eliminating the cause. Therefore, you should not search the Internet for health recipes. It is impossible to cure osteochondrosis on your own; you can only temporarily relieve the symptoms.

Also, when contacting a doctor, you need to maintain a healthy share of attention to your own health. Not only with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, the head is spinning, we can talk about other pathologies. Even an experienced doctor is not able to make a diagnosis "by eye". A thorough diagnosis is indispensable. It is important to consider this when choosing a doctor.

08.03.2021