Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine accounts for about a quarter of all cases of osteochondrosis. It is the "youngest" and usually affects people under 30 years of age. The disease develops gradually, progresses slowly but steadily. In the initial stage of development of cervical osteochondrosis, it can usually be asymptomatic, becoming an accidental finding during X-ray examination.
Causes of osteochondrosis.
The disease manifests itself as dull pains in the chest, under the shoulder blades, in the shoulder region, numbness and the appearance of "goose bumps" on the chest, stiffness of movements. Often the pains are waist-type, accompanied by angina pectoris, unpleasant painful sensations in the stomach and shortness of breath may occur. Sharp pain of short duration is sometimes observed.
The causes of the destruction of the vertebral discs and compression of the nerve endings of the spinal cord can be scoliosis acquired in adolescence, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, the same type of load on the spine and sitting upright. regularly for an extended period. .
Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine: symptoms.
The most important, first and most frequent symptom of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is pain. It intensifies when bending or turning the head.Depending on the location of the pathological focus, the pain can occur in the back of the head, under the scapula or in the arm.
It can be constant, painful. It can happen from time to time, but as the disease progresses, it worries the person more and more. The pain is also sharp, stabbing. This is a symptom of an exacerbation of cervical osteochondrosis, which can manifest itself after hypothermia of the body.
Head movements are often difficult. This is due to the constant tension of the muscles in the neck and neck area. When leaning forward or turning the head, a creaking noise is often heard.
In the later stages of cervical osteochondrosis, a person cannot hold his head for a long time. Sometimes you cannot turn or tilt it without experiencing severe pain. The patient tries to support his head with his hands or tries to adopt a comfortable position to alleviate his suffering.
Vertebral artery syndrome
This group of symptoms occurs due to compression of the vertebral artery by a displaced intervertebral disc, overgrown cartilaginous tissue, or tight muscles. The syndrome is a complex of symptoms, including cervical migraine, impaired consciousness, and increased blood pressure.
Cervical migraine is a headache that results from decreased blood flow and oxygen deprivation of the tissues. The pain is usually one-sided. It hurts, first of all, the back of the head. Possible radiation to the ear, eye, or forehead.
Sometimes hearing impairment occurs and the ears begin to ring. Possible visual impairment. In the double eyes, before the eyes "flash flies". The scalp can become so painful that it cannot be touched. Headaches with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine are often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
A common symptom of cervical osteochondrosis and compression of the vertebral artery is an increase in blood pressure. But osteochondrosis of the cervical spine and hypertension are not always connected to each other. It should be borne in mind that in old age, increased pressure is observed in many people.
Only after studying the history of cervical osteochondrosis, the doctor can establish whether hypertension is a complication of the disease. If there is a history of recurrent attacks of high blood pressure, which are accompanied by palpitations and fear of death, then most likely this is actually one of the symptoms of compression of the vertebral artery. If the increase in pressure occurred gradually and frequent hypertensive crises were not observed, then most likely the patient has hypertension, which is not associated with osteochondrosis.
Impaired consciousness occurs when there is insufficient blood supply to the brain. There is drowsiness, dizziness, decreased speed of reaction to external stimuli. There is a short-term loss of consciousness.
Rehabilitation after a spinal stroke
What are the most dangerous symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis? Undoubtedly, it is a spinal stroke: the death of a part of the spinal cord due to the total absence of blood flow in the compressed vessels. It always leads to disability, causing paresis and paralysis. Fortunately, spinal strokes are rare.
Among the symptoms of exacerbation of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, there is heart pain. It occurs due to pinching of the posterior roots of the fourth spinal nerve. In fact, heart pain could be attributed to radicular syndrome. But this symptom is specific, and therefore it is isolated as a separate syndrome.
Cardiac pain with osteochondrosis can simulate angina pectoris or myocardial infarction. But when a patient seeks medical help, a competent doctor immediately, only on the basis of the patient's symptoms and complaints, can exclude heart disease.
- In the first place, the presence of other symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae in the patient will already lead the specialist to the idea that the cause of the pain in the heart could be problems in the spine;
- Second, the pain is not strong and sharp, as in myocardial infarction, and it is not accompanied by the fear of death. It is not associated with physical activity, unlike an attack of angina pectoris;
- Thirdly, such pain is quite prolonged and after taking nitroglycerin it does not go away and does not even go away;
- Fourth, pain increases when turning or tilting the head, which is not seen with "real" heart disease.
Root syndrome combines the signs of cervical osteochondrosis that develop as a result of compression of the roots of the spinal nerves. Depending on the level at which the pinching occurred, various symptoms of intervertebral osteochondrosis of the cervical spine may develop.
Compression of the roots at the level of the first or second segment causes numbness of the occipital skin or pain in the occipital region.
Pinching of the third spinal nerve roots causes numbness of the tongue and the skin behind the ear. If the motor fibers are pinched, the person finds it difficult to chew food and has the sensation of an enlarged tongue.
Compression of the roots at the level of the fourth segment of the spinal cord causes pain in the heart and clavicle, hiccups, and pharyngeal migraines. There is a sensation of a foreign body in the throat, it is difficult to swallow food. There may be a sore throat that resembles a sore throat. But the differential diagnosis of cervical osteochondrosis and tonsillitis is not difficult at all. Inflammation of the pharyngeal tonsil is always accompanied by hyperthermia, while with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, the body temperature does not rise.
Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis.
The most common symptom of pinching the roots of the fifth spinal nerve is reduced mobility of the shoulder muscles. It is difficult for the patient to lift the hand and bring it to the side.
Pinching the roots of the sixth segment usually causes pain in the scapula and forearm. It is difficult for the patient to bend and rotate the forearm.
The seventh pair of spinal nerves mainly innervates the hand, the index and middle fingers. When it is pinched, the mobility of these parts of the body is disturbed, numbness or pain occurs.
Pinching at the level of the eighth segment makes it difficult to bend and extend the ring finger and little finger. Pain and sensory impairment can also occur. However, these manifestations can already be attributed to the symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervicothoracic spine, because the roots of the eighth spinal nerve are located between the seventh cervical and first thoracic vertebrae.
What is the danger of cervical osteochondrosis? First of all, because of its complications. The appearance of intervertebral hernias can lead to compression of the spinal cord and, as a result, to the development of paresis and paralysis. When the first symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis appear, treatment should be started. Correctly selected therapy will slow down the progression of the disease, improve the patient's quality of life, and prevent the development of complications of cervical osteochondrosis.