Osteochondrosis: why does the disease develop?

Osteochondrosis is a pathology provoked by degenerative processes in the cartilage tissue. In most cases, there is a stable work of the intervertebral discs, therefore, most often they talk about osteochondrosis of the spine.


First of all, osteochondrosis is associated with the fact that a person is in an upright position for a long time, which provokes an increased load on the spine and on the intervertebral discs.

With age, the functionality of blood vessels decreases, the diet becomes less balanced, the body ages, which only accelerates the development of pathological processes.

neck pain with osteochondrosis

Osteochondrosis is a multifactorial disease, the main prerequisites for development may be:

  • work associated with vibration or in which the position of the trunk often changes (flexion-extension, turns, bends, jerking movements);
  • lifting weights;
  • overweight;
  • multiple pregnancy;
  • lack of vitamins in the body;
  • sedentary lifestyle;
  • sleeping on a soft mattress;
  • posture disorders (scoliosis);
  • instability of the vertebrae.

The aggravation of the dystrophic process of destruction of the discs can be associated with intense physical activity (especially without preliminary warm-up), injuries, or pathology of the skeleton, which changes the distribution of the load on the spinal column.

Characteristic signs of pathology

Numbness and pain, as the main manifestations of osteochondrosis, can be noted throughout the body or only in the back. Soreness increases with sudden movement, physical exertion, in some cases when sneezing or coughing. The body's attempt to protect itself from pain leads to increased tension in the muscles and limited motor ability.

If a person is not helped and treatment is not started, the soreness increases even more, goes to the limbs and limits their mobility. With damage to the cervicothoracic spine, the arms are affected, the lumbar - the lower limbs.

Symptomatic manifestations differ depending on which part of the spine is affected.

Types and symptoms of osteochondrosis

Pathology can affect various parts of the spine. Taking into account the localization, osteochondrosis can develop in the cervical (more than 25% of diagnosed cases), lumbar (more than 50%) or thoracic (12%) regions.

The aggravation of the dystrophic process of destruction of the discs can be associated with intense physical activity (especially without preliminary warm-up), injuries, or pathology of the skeleton, which changes the distribution of the load on the spinal column.

Osteochondrosis of the neck

The spinal cord, arteries (feeding the brain), nerve trunks and roots (creating a neural connection with the arms, lungs and heart) pass through the cervical region. Over the years, especially among untrained people or people who work at a computer for a long time, neck movements become difficult.

Symptoms characteristic of cervical osteochondrosis:

  • headaches and heart pains;
  • dizziness (possible short-term loss of consciousness, which is associated with a violation of the blood supply to the brain);
  • numbness and soreness in the shoulders or arms.

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic region

back pain with osteochondrosis

Pain in the chest area is familiar to people who often and for a long time are engaged in physical labor, representatives of "sedentary" professions (architects, designers, drivers).

The main symptoms of osteochondrosis of the thoracic region:

  • the feeling of having a "stake in the chest";
  • painful sensations in the cervical spine, between the shoulder blades . ;
  • numbness of the hands (temporary, long-term);
  • hearing and vision impairment;
  • excessive sweating;
  • headaches radiating to the back of the head (often lasting, up to 12 hours);
  • drops in blood and intracranial pressure;
  • tachycardia and arrhythmia.

A good prevention of thoracic osteochondrosis is correct posture.

Lumbar osteochondrosis symptoms

Health disorders caused by osteochondrosis in the lumbar region are as follows:

  • frequent urination;
  • numbness of the limbs;
  • dizziness;
  • muscle spasms and cramps;
  • Difficulty moving, tilting, and twisting the torso
  • the development of scoliosis;
  • back pain, especially in the morning, right after waking up;
  • violation of muscle sensitivity and tone.

Pain and its intensity reach their peak during the acute period of the course of the disease. Their duration can bother a person for several days, but sometimes the soreness persists for weeks or even months. With the progression of the pathological process occurring in the intervertebral discs, the severity of symptoms decreases. After 60 years, the disease becomes chronic, the pain disappears.

Stages of the disease

Osteochondrosis is a progressive pathology, the transition to each subsequent form occurs gradually. One of the stages - the formation of a hernia, occurs when the annulus fibrosus is thinning. Through the rupture, the nucleus protrudes, the roots are compressed, which leads to increased pain and a decrease in the shock-absorbing capacity of the disc.

The main stages in the development of osteochondrosis:

  1. A person develops characteristic complaints caused by physical exertion or being in one position for a long time. On the roentgenogram, there is a slight narrowing of the cracks between the vertebrae.
  2. Loss of disc stability, cartilaginous tissue enters the annulus fibrosus, nerve roots are compressed. The X-ray shows a decrease in the intervertebral distance, displacement of the vertebrae, proliferation of bone tissue.
  3. Intervertebral hernias develop. The disc is more and more advanced into the surrounding tissue. The violation provokes damage to the nerves and blood vessels. The pain increases, there is numbness and limitation in the movement of the limbs.
  4. The disc hardens and is replaced by scar tissue. With fibrosis, bone protrusions grow along the edge, the distance between the vertebrae is significantly reduced. The mobility of the spine decreases, it seems to stiffen.

Diagnosis of osteochondrosis

A preliminary diagnosis is made by a doctor based on the patient's complaints and after a visual examination. Soreness and sensitivity at certain points, the state of muscle tone, range of motion, the presence of abnormalities in posture (for example, signs of the development of scoliosis) are taken into account.

The presence of osteochondrosis and its stage after instrumental research methods are specified. First of all, an x-ray of the spinal column of interest is prescribed.

After studying the images, the specialist determines:

  • whether the intervertebral distance has decreased;
  • if the cartilage is depleted;
  • what stage is the ongoing pathological process.

If an intervertebral hernia is detected in a patient, an MRI is prescribed. With the help of layer-by-layer scanning and visualization of soft tissues, it is possible to confirm or deny the preliminary diagnosis with high accuracy.

How to treat osteochondrosis

The therapy of the disease is long-term, the main task is to relieve pain and muscle tension, and after establishing the provoking cause, to stop the development of the pathological process.

What method of treatment will be the most effective, the specialist decides, based on the results of the study and the severity of the ongoing pathology. process.

Medication for osteochondrosis

pills and injections for the treatment of osteochondrosis

The main goal in this type of disease is to stop the inflammatory process and soreness, to relieve muscle spasm. This can be done using the patient's admission:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. To reduce the tone of skeletal muscles, muscle spasm and compression of nerve roots, the specialist supplements NSAID preparations with muscle relaxants.
  • Vitamin preparations of group B.

The optimal treatment period is 7-10 days.

Medication is often supplemented with topical treatments. Warming ointments / gels containing NSAIDs can be applied to the affected area, which helps to increase blood supply, metabolism, and stop inflammation. External remedies quickly relieve pain, as the main active ingredient penetrates into the inflammation and immediately begins to "act".

Taking medications is usually complemented by exercise therapy, massages, physiotherapy - reflex or manual therapy.

The main task of people suffering from osteochondrosis is to reduce the frequency and severity of pain symptoms (especially during an exacerbation). Compliance with the doctor's recommendations, the use of medications in combination with exercise therapy exercises, will help restore the normal functioning of the spine and avoid surgery.