Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine: signs and treatment.

It has already been written and said many times that osteochondrosis of the cervical, cervicothoracic and lumbar spine is not a disease in itself. This, if you will, is our "species curse. "Man, as a biological species, has been moving on two legs for only a couple of million years, and even less. This, from the point of view of evolution, is still the "middle of the road". It is not known what new anatomical variants of spinal development we will reach in a million years.

Currently, osteochondrosis is the most common disease of the musculoskeletal system, and it is faced by doctors of various specialties. In most cases, these are therapists and neurologists, since with the complication of osteochondrosis, a variety of neurological syndromes can occur, which will be discussed below.

Osteochondrosis: what is it?

neck pain with osteochondrosis photo 1

You should not say the words "osteochondrosis is common", because this is not true. Osteochondrosis in its purest form is a normal aging process and dehydration of the intervertebral discs, which, in the normal course, does not cause any complaints. This is possible in vigorous older people who are mobile, have good posture, and are not overweight. They do gymnastics, swim, avoid lifting heavy objects and lead what can be called a "healthy lifestyle".

If we talk about osteochondrosis of any part of the spine, like a disease, we always mean its complicated course, which causes various complaints and symptoms. And in this, the cervical spine is more vulnerable than other underlying departments. Of course, the cervical region bears the least load - only the head, but at the same time, the vertebrae of the cervical region are more mobile than others, and at the same time less massive.

All this makes the lesions of the cervical region with complications of osteochondrosis more pronounced. The proximity of the head leads to the fact that headaches occur, which, of course, does not occur with injuries to the lumbar region. In addition, it must be remembered that it is in the central canal of the cervical vertebrae that the spinal cord passes through, having absorbed all the underlying pathways. Thus, with compression syndromes of the central canal, the patient may have paralysis of the arms and legs, up to complete immobility, decreased sensitivity of the skin throughout the body, and dysfunction of the pelvic organs. All this can at the moment disable a person, for example, with a fracture of the cervical vertebrae (plunging into the head in unknown small places).

Of course, such complex lesions are not related to osteochondrosis: patients are much more likely to be bothered by other symptoms. How to treat and cure osteochondrosis of the cervical spine? It is impossible to cure it. To do this, from childhood, simply refuse to move on two legs and crawl on all fours, or live in the ocean, like dolphins. Only then the load on the intervertebral discs will be minimal or even completely disappear.

Only exacerbations of osteochondrosis can be cured, and for this you need to know not only its signs and symptoms, but also risk factors.

About risk factors

In the case of the cervical spine, obviously, lifting weights on the shoulder will not play such an important role in the appearance of the pain syndrome as in the lower back. What conditions and diseases can contribute to the development of symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis? These are the most common situations:

  • Flat feet, both longitudinal and transverse. The spinal column is a flexible, curved rod. In the event that the arch of the foot is not moistened, and during the step there is not an "elastic" movement of the spine down, but a blow, then this blow with a "wave", like a whip, goes up , and it is extinguished precisely in the cervical region, at the place of the craniovertebral transition. That's where all the energy goes. Therefore, running with flat feet causes pronounced changes in the intervertebral discs.
  • Chronic injury. These are, first of all, slips on the ice in winter, falls on the back of the head, as well as constant head banging on low doors, which are often found in people whose height is above average.
  • Wearing heavy winter hats, high hairstyles and a lot of women's jewelry. All this leads to fatigue of the neck muscles, the appearance of chronic spasms, circulatory disorders, and the development of headaches and back pain.
  • Sedentary lifestyle, "sedentary" work, the presence of stiffness in the upper thoracic and cervical spine.

We will not list the specific risk factors that occur in sick patients. Quite a few are those reasons for the deterioration of the condition that are found in ordinary healthy people.

Symptoms and signs of osteochondrosis.

neck pain with osteochondrosis photo 2

Signs of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine are very multifaceted. Few doctors know that the general prolapse of the abdominal cavity (splanchnoptosis) or prolapse of the liver, which is often misdiagnosed as its increase, can be due to osteochondrosis of the cervical region. In this case, the phrenic nerve is irritated and the dome of the diaphragm, contracting, falls down.

As a result, the liver is "pushed" out of the hypochondrium. But there are other more "usual" symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis: pain and muscle tension. We will not talk about the symptoms of hernias and bulges of the cervical spine; a separate article is devoted to this. Let's talk about the clinic that occurs with "whole" intervertebral discs, especially since such situations are much more common.

Cervical osteochondrosis causes pain in the neck itself. Muscle aches are manifested by constant, aching pain of low intensity. It is aggravated by turning and tilting the head. It is usually accompanied by rigidity in the suboccipital region.

Headaches in osteochondrosis of the cervical region almost always have the nature of a tension headache. The attack lasts for many hours and even days in a row. The pain rises from the neck through the occiput to the temples, and covers the skull like a helmet or helmet. With this pain, the working capacity does not suffer, but if radicular symptoms join it, they take on a stabbing character, and it becomes very painful to move the head.

Syndrome of the "Vertebral Artery"

Speaking of cervical osteochondrosis, one cannot fail to mention this classic manifestation of cerebrovascular insufficiency caused by cervical osteochondrosis. Its symptoms are vomiting and nausea, dizziness and balance disorders. There is a noise in the head and in the ears (tinnitus), in severe cases there is a speech disorder (dysarthria), swallowing disorders. Much more often there are various visual disturbances ("flies"), headache. Sometimes there are falling attacks, during which a person does not lose consciousness, but falls, and then quickly gets up.

Compression of one of the two vertebral arteries can occur during sleep. In the event that a person at the same time throws his head back and turns it to the side, the vertebral artery is pressed against the first vertebra, the atlas contralaterally, that is, from the opposite side.

If you lie like this for a while, then in the morning, when you try to get out of bed, there are severe dizziness, nausea, vomiting, gait and balance disorders. In some cases, "higher order" disorders also develop, for example, transient global amnesia, in which the patient simply does not remember anything.

Numerous neurological syndromes and symptoms also arise, which we will briefly list, indicating their diagnostic points of reference, so that the reader of the article can imagine and "try" these symptoms for himself if he cannot get to a neurologist:

  • Inferior oblique muscle syndrome of the head (often occurs in patients older than 50 years, especially in women after menopause). There are pains, sensitivity disturbances in the back of the head, along the auricle. The pain is aching, brittle in nature, both in the neck and in the back of the head, constant, and its intensification is associated with prolonged immobility. It increases by turning the head to the side that is healthy;
  • Anterior scalene syndrome - manifested in patients with additional "cervical ribs".

There are disturbances in sensitivity and "dragging" in the hand, pallor and coldness, sometimes swelling of the hand, the appearance of weakness, hypotrophy of the muscles of the hand, as well as weakening of the pulse in the wrist. In severe cases, progressive paralysis or paresis of the hand muscles may occur. Patients cannot drive a car, sleep on a sore side, cannot lift weights, and also work with their hands up (hanging curtains, plastering). There are also complaints of stiffness and pain in the neck, forced position of the head in the morning.

  • Middle scalene muscle syndrome. First, there are pains in the shoulder, in the region of the scapula, and then muscle hypotrophy begins there. The mechanism is associated with damage to the long nerve of the trunk and the transverse artery of the neck;
  • Rib shoulder syndrome (levator scapulae muscle syndrome). First, aching pains appear, in the area of \u200b\u200bthe scapula, which "buzz". They hit the shoulder, there is also pain in the neck, which often hurts "in the weather. "A crunch is usually heard when moving the scapula.

Thus, it is clear that many processes that began in the neck or in the immediate vicinity of its structures appear "on the periphery", for example, in the area of the hand. This requires a thoughtful and competent approach on the part of the doctor. Currently, the diagnosis of complications of osteochondrosis has become much simpler, especially with the introduction of magnetic resonance imaging in clinical practice.

Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis

Modern therapy for neck pain of vertebrogenic origin and associated muscle and compression syndromes provides for short cycles of medication. Treatment of exacerbations of osteochondrosis of the cervical region quickly translates into a fading phase of exacerbation, against which the main methods of treatment are kinesiotherapy and physiotherapy.

Ointments and drugs for exacerbation.

As you know, "injections", ointments and even lockdowns have not been canceled. But the neck is the focus of a huge number of nerves, blood vessels, autonomic fibers, fascia. Therefore, blocks are performed less often here than with acute pain in the back or lower back. In addition, the thin skin of the neck allows gels, creams and ointments to be absorbed faster than in the lumbar spine.

Of the drugs, injectable forms of NSAIDs are used, preferably selective, muscle relaxants of central action, vitamins of group "B".

It should be remembered that if NSAIDs are used, it is imperative to protect the mucosa of the gastrointestinal tract by using antisecretory drugs during treatment.

As for local treatment, there are currently a large number of ointments, gels and creams containing NSAIDs, bee and snake venom, as well as cooling and pain-relieving agents. The main thing is not to use very hot ointments. They can cause an increase in blood pressure, flushing of the face and even a hypertensive crisis in old age. It is desirable that treatment with ointments be carried out prophylactically, without waiting for the next exacerbation.

About Shants Necklace

In the early stages, in the acute stage, it is necessary to protect the neck from unnecessary movements. The Shants necklace is ideal for this. Many people make two mistakes when buying this necklace. They do not choose it according to its size, so it simply does not fulfill its function and causes a feeling of discomfort.

The second common mistake is to use it prophylactically for a long time. This leads to weak neck muscles and only causes more problems. There are only two indications for the collar, in the presence of which it can be worn:

  • The appearance of acute pain in the neck, stiffness and extension of pain to the head;
  • If you are going to perform physical work in full health, in which you run the risk of "pulling" your neck and getting worse. This is, for example, repairing a car when you lie under it, or washing windows when you need to stretch your arms and take awkward positions.

It is necessary to wear a collar for no more than 2-3 days, since prolonged use can cause venous stasis in the neck muscles, at a time when it is time to activate the patient.

Patient Activation

Kinesiotherapy (treatment by movement) involves therapeutic exercises, swimming. Gymnastics for osteochondrosis of the cervical spine does not address the discs at all, but the surrounding muscles. Its task is to relieve tonic spasm, improve blood flow, and also normalize venous outflow. This is what leads to decreased muscle tone, decreased pain intensity, and stiffness in the back.

Along with massage, swimming, acupuncture sessions, the purchase of an orthopedic mattress and a special pillow is indicated. A pillow for osteochondrosis of the cervical spine should be made of a special material with "shape memory". Its task is to relax the muscles of the neck and suboccipital region, as well as prevent disturbance of blood flow at night in the vertebrobasilar basin.

Autumn is an important stage in the prevention and treatment of home physiotherapy products and devices, from infrared and magnetic devices, to the most common needle applicators and ebonite disks, which are a source of weak electrical currents during massage that have a beneficial effect on the patient.

Whats Next?

Statistics show that the people of the Mediterranean, who often and at any age swim in the sea, the situation with diseases of the musculoskeletal system is much better.

However, the basis for the prevention of osteochondrosis, in addition to the elimination of risk factors, is a healthy diet, which is based on sour milk, vegetable foods, seafood, fiber and plenty of fluids. This will slow down the age-related process of intervertebral disc dehydration and maintain a healthy neck and back well into your later years.