Cervical osteochondrosis

The reasons

Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis

Complications

Diagnostics

Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis

Prevention

Cervical osteochondrosis refers to progressive dystrophic-degenerative lesion of intervertebral discs in the region of 1-7 vertebrae belonging to the cervical region.

As a result of cervical osteochondrosis, deformation, exhaustion, and then damage to the vertebral bodies occur. This disrupts the normal blood supply and nerve conduction in the neck and in those areas that are innervated by the nerve roots of the cervical region.

Cervical osteochondrosis can be both isolated and combined with osteochondrosis of other departments – thoracic , lumbar and sacral.   

The reasons

The causes of degenerative and degenerative changes in the intervertebral discs are still not well understood. The assumption that osteochondrosis is not confirmed by the senile phenomenon. It is found even in children and adolescents.

There are a number of factors predisposing to the development of osteochondrosis. These include:

  • stiffness and sedentary lifestyle
  • sedentary types of work with a static load on the neck,
  • overweight, lack of physical development,
  • connective tissue dysplastic processes,
  • circulatory disorders in the neck,
  • neck injuries
  • scoliosis , defects in posture, uncomfortable pillows and mattresses,
  • genetic predisposition, metabolic defects.

Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis

The cervical spine is particularly vulnerable to the development of osteochondrosis due to the peculiarities of the skeleton, erect position, and also because of the large size of the head – the vertebrae are the smallest in comparison with other parts of the spine, and the muscular skeleton is not very pronounced.

The most characteristic symptom that patients complain about is pain in the cervical region. Depending on the affected area, the pain may be localized.

  • in the clavicle and shoulder;
  • throughout the cervical spine;
  • on the front surface of the chest.

Pain in cervical osteochondrosis due to the peculiarities of the cervical spine.

The first signs of cervical osteochondrosis are minor and of little specific:

  • pain in the neck in the evening,
  • feeling of heaviness in the head, headaches in the back of the head,
  • feeling of numbness or tingling in the shoulders and arms,
  • crunching in the neck when turning the head, clicking vertebrae.

Leading symptoms:

Vegetative dystonic

  • quite severe “shooting” pains in the neck and, especially, in the area just below the nape;
  • pain occurs after a long stay in one position (for example, after sleep);
  • neck muscles are constantly tense;
  • there are difficulties with the abduction of the hand to the side;
  • on the affected side, fingers are constrained in movement.

Since compression of the vertebral arteries occurs, neurological manifestations are observed: headache, nausea, and syncope are frequent.

Spinal symptom

pain localized behind the sternum on the left.

This type of pain should be distinguished from angina pain (with angina pectoris, nitroglycerin brings relief, with osteochondrosis, no).  

With a gradual disruption of the structure of the intervertebral discs, they are compressed (compression) and nerve root impairments occur, as well as narrowing or pinching of the arteries and veins that pass in the region of the vertebral bodies.

This leads to the formation of special syndromes – radicular and ischemic.

  • lesion of the roots of the first cervical vertebra (C1): violations affect the neck, reducing skin sensitivity;
  • C2 lesion gives pain in the region of the crown and occiput;
  • C3 lesion gives pain in the neck from the side of infringement, reduced sensation in the tongue and sublingual muscles, in some cases with speech impairment and loss of control over the tongue;
  • defeat C4 and C5 gives pain in the shoulder and collarbone, lowering the tone of the muscles of the head and neck, hiccups, respiratory disorders and pain in the heart;
  • C6 lesion happens most often, giving pain from the neck to the scapula, forearm, up to the thumbs, skin sensitivity may suffer:
  • C7 lesion gives similar symptoms with pain in the neck, back of the shoulder, right up to the back of the hand, impaired strength of hands and reduced reflexes.

Circulatory disorders due to compression of vessels in the cervical vertebrae give headaches up to migraine, severe dizziness, visual disturbances and tinnitus, flashing flies before the eyes, disorders of vegetative functions.

There may be manifestations of cardiac syndrome with squeezing heart pain, lack of air and palpitations, rhythm disturbances.

Complications

Serious complications of cervical osteochondrosis are

  • protrusion of intervertebral discs with the formation of a hernia (protrusion);
  • rupture of the intervertebral disk with the infringement of nerves and blood vessels, possible compression of the spinal cord, which can be fatal;
  • there may also be radiculopathy (damage to the roots), the formation of osteophytes (spines on the vertebral bodies) with the manifestation of paresis and paralysis.

Diagnostics

In the presence of the above complaints, it is necessary to contact an orthopedic surgeon or a neurologist.

First of all, the doctor will evaluate the mobility and soreness in the neck, sensitivity and other disorders of function. Then you will need a radiography of the cervical spine in several projections, if necessary, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging for a hernia.  

If blood circulation is disturbed, rheoencephalography and fundus examination will be needed.

Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis

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Today, there are both traditional and nontraditional methods of treatment of osteochondrosis in the cervical spine.

Mostly conservative methods are used:

  • symptomatic analgesic therapy (baralgin, analgin, ketorol) to relieve pain
  • taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (diclofenac, indomethacin, meloxicam) – to relieve inflammation and swelling of tissues
  • spasmolytics are used to eliminate muscle spasms – no-silos, blood circulation medications – mydocalm, trental.

In the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis, substances that restore the structure of intervertebral discs – chondroprotectors (teraflex, arthracin) – are used.

A course of vitamin B therapy is shown, external remedies are applicable for therapy – gels and ointments, creams with anti-inflammatory, warming and anesthetic components – voltaren, diclogel, nikoflex. The stimulators of intervertebral disc regeneration are shown – teraflex or chondroxide.

Excellently helps in the treatment of osteochondrosis, point and general massage, acupuncture, physiotherapy, physical therapy and gymnastics. The osteopathy method has proven itself well – a mild effect on the “clamped” zones of muscles and vertebrae.

When treating cervical osteochondrosis, it is recommended to wear a special collar (Schantz collar).

Complications of cervical osteochondrosis with intervertebral hernia, which violate the sensitivity and blood circulation, can be treated promptly.

The duration of treatment depends on the neglect of the condition, since osteochondrosis is a progressive chronic disease. Treatment can be long, and preventive courses are held for life.

Exercises for the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis:

  • Self-stretching: in a position with a straight back, shoulders should be lowered as low as possible, while the neck should be pulled upwards. It is necessary to make at least 10 approaches at least 3 times a day.
  • Self-massage: clasp the neck with a towel, take it by the ends and pull them alternately, flexing the muscles of the neck. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that the towel does not slip over the neck (does not rub it).
  • Gymnastics for the cervical osteochondrosis: shows a slight bending of the neck, as well as turns and tilts of the head. 5-7 tilts are made at a time. This exercise is most useful to perform after self-massage of the cervical spine.

Prevention

The basis of the health of the cervical spine is a strong and healthy back, physical activity, a comfortable bed with anatomical pillows and a mattress, correct posture and proper nutrition.

It is necessary to avoid neck injuries and weight lifting. It is necessary to combine a long sitting with rest periods and warm-ups.

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