Osteochondrosis or chondrosis is a disease that reduces the elasticity of the cartilage tissue of the joints. The disease can manifest itself in any joint, and depending on the localization, it has its own classification. The progression of the disease leads to impairment of the motor function of the joint, often complete immobility occurs.
The symptoms of osteochondrosis, its causes and methods of treatment of this disease are discussed in the information provided.
How osteochondrosis manifests itself
Signs of osteochondrosis appear gradually, at first with a slight pain syndrome, which later becomes chronic and intense. Usually, patients go to the doctor with complaints of severe pain and inability to perform certain movements.
For the treatment of osteochondrosis to be as successful as possible, the disease must be diagnosed at an early stage.
The following signs may indicate the development of osteochondrosis:
- Pain when moving;
- Crunch of joints;
- Stiffness of movement;
- Muscle spasm;
- Headache, surges in blood pressure and dizziness (with cervical osteochondrosis);
- Pain in the chest and between the shoulder blades (thoracic osteochondrosis);
- Pain in the hip and buttocks (lumbosacral osteochondrosis and hip joint);
- Numbness of the limbs;
- Bone aches;
- Increase weather sensitivity;
- Decreased visual acuity.
Usually the first manifestations of the disease go unnoticed. That is why the initial stage of osteochondrosis is rarely diagnosed and, as a rule, completely by accident.
Causes of osteochondrosis
Osteochondrosis does not occur spontaneously. Degenerative processes in the joint lead to its development, namely: disruption of normal blood circulation and mineral metabolism, the formation of ossified formations - osteophytes. All this leads to impaired mobility of the joint, changes in its structure and the appearance of uncomfortable sensations during movement and walking.
The main reasons for the appearance are:
- Lack of constant physical activity;
- Injuries and injuries to the joint;
- Joint deformity under excessive stress;
- Disorders of nutrition and blood supply to the joint;
- Overweight problems;
- Unbalanced diet;
- Chronic stress;
- Hereditary predisposition;
- Endocrine pathologies;
- Age-related changes;
- Unfavorable working conditions (prolonged stay in an uncomfortable position, hypothermia, lifting weights).
The chances of developing the disease increase in patients who have flat feet, congenital or acquired developmental pathologies of the foot. With such ailments, the load during walking is distributed incorrectly, which leads to a change in normal gait and, as a result, deformation of the spine, knee and hip joints.
The occurrence of spinal osteochondrosis directly depends on the already diagnosed diseases of the musculoskeletal system, for example, scoliosis.
In addition, chronic diseases of internal organs can also act as a provoking factor. Infections and inflammation can affect nearby tissues, which leads to the formation of pathology in the articular joints.
Classification of osteochondrosis
In medical terminology, the definition of "spinal chondrosis" can often be found. This means the initial stage of osteochondrosis, affecting one of the departments (or several) of the spine. Pathology develops in the intervertebral disc and does not affect nearby tissues. This is the special insidiousness of chondrosis of the back, because the asymptomatic beginning does not give a chance to start treatment on time and overcome the ailment.
Usually, chondrosis, the symptoms of which have not yet appeared, is discovered quite by accident, during a comprehensive examination of the body.
In addition, depending on the localization of the pathology, one can also talk about coxarthrosis - osteochondrosis of the hip joint. Pathology can also affect the shoulder or accumulated joint. Osteochondrosis of the back, in turn, is also classified according to the site of localization.
What types of back osteochondrosis are:
- Cervical osteochondrosisis manifested by pain and stiffness in the neck, back of the head and between the shoulder blades. It is often considered an occupational disease for accountants, computer programmers, and other occupations that involve prolonged sitting.
- Osteochondrosis of the thoracic regionis quite rare. Due to the relative immobility of this area, symptoms are often confused with angina pectoris or intercostal neuralgia. In addition, the manifestations of chest osteochondrosis can resemble an attack of pancreatitis or gastritis.
- Lumbar or lumbosacral osteochondrosisis the most common type of disease. This is due to the increased stress on this department, even during normal movements. With increasing load, lifting weights, playing sports, the pressure on the vertebrae of the lumbar spine increases many times, which can trigger the development of the disease. The manifestations of lumbar osteochondrosis are extremely diverse. The main symptoms include not only pain when bending, turning and other movements, but also muscle atrophy, difficulty walking, decreased sexual function and diseases of the urinary system.
- Coccyx osteochondrosisis a rare disease that primarily affects women. This is directly related to the physiological features of the structure of the small pelvis. It is determined by pain syndrome when sitting, walking and doing physical exercises. The onset is usually preceded by injuries and falls, as well as prolonged stay in an uncomfortable sitting position.
- Polysegmental osteochondrosisis diagnosed when degenerative lesions of nearby joints are detected. They can be located in one or more parts of the spine.
- Widespread osteochondrosisis manifested by lesions of two or more parts of the spine. It is a difficult disease to treat with low chances of full recovery.
- Diffuse osteochondrosisis diagnosed if the pathology spreads to all segments of the spine.
A progressive disease is characterized not only by pain and discomfort during movement. Inflammation of the connective tissue of the joint develops, the intervertebral roots are pinched, and growths of bone tissue - osteophytes - begin to form on the vertebrae.
Stages of osteochondrosis development
To determine the tactics of how to cure osteochondrosis, it is necessary not only to accurately diagnose, but also to determine the degree of involvement of articular elements in the pathological process. For this, it is customary to use a classification according to degrees, as well as a place of localization of pathology.
What types of osteochondrosis are:
- The initial stagedoes not manifest itself as a pain syndrome and does not require specific treatment. According to statistics, the first degree of osteochondrosis is present in more than 80% of the population over 50 years old. Recently, due to the spread of professions that require a permanent stay in a sitting position, as well as a decrease in the physical activity of children and adolescents, osteochondrosis is diagnosed in almost every second person under the age of 30.
- The second stageosteochondrosis is diagnosed by X-ray examination. The image shows the formation of multiple fractures of the intervertebral disc, but the fibrous ring remains intact. The manifestations of the disease are insignificant, usually there is discomfort with a prolonged stay in a sitting or standing position, after a short rest, the pain disappears on its own. The diagnosed second stage of osteochondrosis can be treated with great success with conservative methods.
- The third stageof osteochondrosis is characterized by numerous injuries of the intervertebral disc, as well as a possible rupture of the annulus fibrosus. The pains become prolonged and constant, and may even appear at rest. Treatment of osteochondrosis in the third stage is carried out by conservative and surgical methods, the prognosis depends on the severity of the pathology and the timely treatment of medical help.
- The fourth stageosteochondrosis is the most severe. It is determined by severe lesions of the joint structure. Ligaments, vessels, nerve endings and connective tissue of the joint are involved in the pathological process. Conservative methods are usually ineffective. Surgery is used more often, but even an operation does not guarantee recovery, patients often lose joint mobility and remain disabled.
In order to prevent the transition of osteochondrosis to the critical stage, it is imperative to pay attention in time to the signals that the body gives us. There are cases when patients endure pain and discomfort for years, and also adapt to the limitation of motor function, but do not seek help from a doctor.
It should be noted that osteochondrosis is not a disease that can be cured on your own at home using folk methods or only painkillers.
A mandatory comprehensive approach is required, which is determined by the characteristics of the development of pathology, the reasons for its occurrence, as well as the individual indicators of the patient.
Diagnosis of osteochondrosis
To ensure the correct tactics for the treatment of osteochondrosis, it is necessary to undergo special studies. They will help to identify the localization and the causes that led to this disease. Only after eliminating all the negative factors affecting the progression of the disease, you can start the main treatment.
How the degree and localization of the pathological process is determined:
- X-ray examination.For reliable information, it is necessary to take pictures in several projections. The localization and degree of joint damage, the presence of osteophytes and the condition of the bone canals are determined.
- Doppler ultrasound.Check for blood supply disturbances, vascular integrity and blood flow velocity.
- Myelography.Special examination of the spine using a contrast agent. Allows you to identify intervertebral hernias and their localization.
- Computed tomography.The condition of the intervertebral discs, possible deviations in the structure and deformation, pinching of the nerve roots and changes in the structure of individual vertebrae are checked.
- Magnetic resonance imaging.Usually provides a more detailed examination of the structure of the articular joints. It is assigned, as a rule, when the information content of other conducted examinations is low. An undoubted advantage is a more detailed study of the state of soft tissues.
The patient's anamnesis is also studied without fail. Possible injuries, suffered even long before going to the doctor, operations and chronic diseases can also cause the development of pathological processes in the joint tissues.
In addition, a personal examination and questioning of the patient is carried out. Based on the information received, the diagnosis and degree of joint damage is determined.
How to treat osteochondrosis
After the diagnosis and identification of the causes of osteochondrosis, the specialist draws up an individual treatment plan. It necessarily takes into account the patient's physical indicators, the peculiarities of the development of pathology and its localization.
An integrated approach is used for treatment.
Medicines alone cannot be dispensed with, because it is necessary to simultaneously develop joint mobility, eliminate a possible inflammatory process in the surrounding tissues, and also neutralize the negative factor that led to the development of the disease.
That is why it is better to entrust the treatment of chondrosis to a specialist who will select an individual set of exercises, and will also take into account the dynamics of therapy.
Drug therapy for osteochondrosis
Prescribing drugs depends on the type of lesion and associated pathological processes in the tissues. As a rule, patients try to treat osteochondrosis on their own, with pharmaceutical and self-made ointments and compresses, as well as folk remedies.
Unfortunately, this only brings temporary relief and does not contribute to complete elimination of ailments. To effectively treat osteochondrosis, the following groups of drugs are used.
Drug therapy includes:
- Systemic and local painkillers.These include ointments and compresses, as well as tablets and injections for severe pain syndrome. Used to treat osteochondrosis during an exacerbation.
- NSAIDs- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used not only to relieve pain and inflammation in the affected area, but also when the temperature is caused by the disease.
- The action of muscle relaxantsis aimed at relieving muscle tone. Drugs in this group are taken in courses of 30-45 days, and the dosage is prescribed strictly individually. Usually, they start taking with the minimum doses (with severe hypertonia, injections are prescribed), which are gradually increased. In order not to cause withdrawal syndrome, the dosage is subsequently gradually reduced.
- Chondroprotectorshelp to restore cartilage tissue by compensating for damaged areas. The effect of this group of drugs does not appear immediately, therefore a course of several months is prescribed. There are various forms of medication. During the period of exacerbation, it is used in the form of injections, and then the treatment is continued with tablets or capsules.
- Angioprotectorsare used in case of identified pathologies of blood supply. They help strengthen the walls of blood vessels, promote their relaxation and restore metabolism. The duration of admission is also several months.
- Glucocorticosteroidsare prescribed to enhance the function of NSAIDs and muscle relaxants. They have a pronounced anti-inflammatory and decongestant effect, help against pain and spasm. The course of treatment is determined individually. In the first days of an exacerbation of the disease, they are used in an injection form, then in a tablet form. The dosage is gradually reduced until the drug is completely discontinued.
- Biogenic stimulants.They speed up the metabolism and promote the restoration of joint tissues. Self-treatment of chondrosis at home with such drugs is impossible, but in complex therapy they have proven their effectiveness.
- Complex vitamin preparations.Promote overall strengthening of the body and accelerate metabolic reactions.
Is osteochondrosis treated with medication alone? Of course no. To fully get rid of the disease, it is necessary to carry out other medical procedures. Particular attention should be paid to a special set of exercises. It is developed for each section of the spine or articular joints of the limbs.
Important point:classes are carried out under the supervision of a specialist, and only after removing the inflammation in the affected area.
What to do in case of osteochondrosis and which movements it is better to refuse, a special trainer with proper qualifications will tell. At first, the exercises are performed under his control, later the patient can continue the exercises on his own.
Treatment of osteochondrosis at home involves regular exercise to restore the mobility of the joint.
Massage and physiotherapy
Several methods of alternative medicine are also used in the treatment of osteochondrosis of the spine. These include mud wraps, acupuncture, magnetotherapy, manual therapy.
Among the medical procedures, electrophoresis with drugs, laser therapy, thermotherapy are also often used. An important point is sanitary treatment in specialized sanatoriums.
What is osteochondrosis? More and more patients learn about this disease at a young age. A sedentary lifestyle, decreased muscle tone and uneven loads on the joints - these negative factors weight lead to the development of degenerative processes in the structure of cartilage tissue.
A decrease in its elasticity, as well as a violation of its integrity, is manifested by constant or periodic pain, stiffness and even malfunctioning of internal systems.