The most common cause of pain in the upper and middle sections of the back is cervicothoracic osteochondrosis. And while this slowly progressing pathology is not fatal, it significantly worsens a person's quality of life and, in some cases, can cause disability. And only the maximum possible elimination of the factors that lead to uneven pressure on the moving segments of the spine can slow down the irreversible processes of biological aging, and thereby alleviate the condition.
Causes of degenerative spinal injuries
Osteochondrosis of the cervicothoracic region is a multifactorial pathology of the intervertebral discs connecting 7 cervical and 12 thoracic vertebrae. The most common causes of degenerative changes are:
- gravity (center of gravity shift and axial load redistribution)
- prolonged work in a forced position
- Autoimmune diseases
- spinal overload associated with pathologies of the musculoskeletal system (deformities, flat feet)
- infectious and inflammatory processes in nearby structures
- metabolic disorders
- hereditary abnormalities in the development of connective tissue
- traumatic injuries
- excessive static or dynamic loads
- hormonal imbalance
Provoke an exacerbation of osteochondrosis in men and women can be stress, prolonged nervous tension, malnutrition, hypothermia.
Symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervical and thoracic spine.
Degenerative processes in the affected intervertebral discs are accompanied by local pain syndromes and referred pain. Due to a violation of the blood supply to the brain, patients complain of headache, dizziness, "flies" before the eyes, pain in the shoulder or throughout the upper limb, in the intercostal and interscapular region. There is discomfort, tingling in the neck, chest, abdomen, periodic painful pulsations in the ear or temple, pain when coughing and sneezing.
After a long stay in a forced position, a feeling of oppression appears. Cervicothoracic osteochondrosis often presents with typical cardiac symptoms, greatly complicating diagnosis. Among the additional signs, numbness of certain areas of the skin, disruption of the digestive tract, increased pain with deep breaths, shortness of breath in the supine position should be noted.
Stages of osteochondrosis
The pathological process has 4 stages of development:
I - swelling and movement of the pulpy substance inside the disc, irritation of the peripheral nerve endings. Cervical and thoracic lumbago occurs in the context of physical activity.
II - cracking of the fibrous ring, violation of the fixation between the vertebral bodies, instability of the vertebral segments. Accompanied by constant muscle tension, functional blocks, limitation of mobility
III - rupture of the disc membrane and protrusion of the nucleus pulposus (herniation). Neurological syndromes of root compression are manifested by reflex prolapse, weakness, atrophy, impaired sensitivity in the zone of innervation II - cracking of the fibrous ring, impaired fixation between the vertebral bodies, instability of the vertebral segments. Accompanied by constant muscle tension, functional blocks, limitation of mobility
IV - degenerative lesion of all components of the intervertebral symphysis. Due to mineralization and compaction of the disc, arthrosis of the facet joints develops, and mobility in the affected area is significantly limited.
Diagnosis of vertebrogenic pathology is carried out in a complex, which includes:
- collection of vital and pathological history
- physical examination in a static position
- diagnostic tests (study of active and passive movement disorders)
- determination of neurological status
- Two-projection plain radiograph of the spine
- magnetic resonance
In a professional clinic, when various dorsopathies are diagnosed, MRI is performed in combination with manual tests. The combined use of these methods provides comprehensive information about the localization of areas of discogenic disorders, the structure and metabolic activity of cells, the state of all soft tissue components.
Which doctor to contact
A neurologist manages patients with vertebrogenic disorders. Also, she may need the help of a chiropractor, spinal surgeon.
How to treat cervicothoracic osteochondrosis
Treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical and thoracic spine includes:
- medications for pain, swelling, and inflammation
- manual therapy
- massage and self-massage;
- physiotherapeutic procedures (UVI, electrophoresis, laser, magnetotherapy, DDT)
- physical therapy exercises
- corset bandage
- post-isometric relaxation
If osteochondrosis is complicated by intervertebral hernia, a surgical operation is recommended for the patient.
An indifferent attitude to health and neglect of medical recommendations can lead to the active progression of the pathological process and the development of various compression and reflex syndromes:
- Chronic cervicocranialgia and thoracalgia (headaches emanating from the cervico-occipital region, pain in the thoracic region)
- limiting tilt of the head in the direction opposite to the injury
- vegetative disorders of the upper extremities
- sensitivity problems in hands and fingers
- internal organ dysfunction
- partial spinal immobilization
Prevention of cervicothoracic osteochondrosis
To minimize the impact of negative factors, it is recommended to regularly perform exercises aimed at strengthening the muscular structure. It is very important during long-term monotonous work to control posture, change body position more often, avoid large-amplitude movements, and protect yourself from hypothermia and drafts.