Symptoms and treatment of osteochondrosis


The spine performs the most important functions of the human body. With this article you will learn everything about what is osteochondrosis, what are the symptoms and treatment of this disease, what are the signs of the pathology and the causes of the disease.

What is osteochondrosis

Osteochondrosis is a disease in which the intervertebral discs and other tissues of the spine are affected. Dystrophic processes are triggered within the spine. The vertebra, as it were, compresses, crushes these discs, which gradually leads to compression of the nerve endings of the spinal cord.

Important! If osteochondrosis is not treated, the condition can cause disability.

About 80% of the world population suffers from spinal pathologies. Osteochondrosis is most often diagnosed among people aged 15 to 30 years. Although the disease occurs in men and women, a strong half of humanity is more difficult to tolerate this disease.

The disease begins to develop and manifest relatively in adulthood, when the person leads an active life. Although osteochondrosis is possible in children, it occurs much less frequently than in adults.

Although specialists from all over the world join forces to eradicate the disease, new cases of osteochondrosis are registered every year. The emergence of problems depends a lot on the individual's personal efforts.

Existing classification

There are many types of osteochondrosis, so different doctors may apply different classifications.

Depending on which part of the spine is affected, there are:

  • cervical osteochondrosis;
  • osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine;
  • lumbar spine osteochondrosis;
  • osteochondrosis of the sacral region.

Extensive osteochondrosis is also distinct. This is a form of pathology in which several departments are affected at the same time. For example, osteochondrosis of the lumbosacral region is often found, since it is this part of the spine that experiences a constant increase in load.

Whatever type of illness a person encounters, complications are always serious. Therefore, it is important to identify the disease as soon as possible and provide qualified first aid.

When a doctor makes a diagnosis, he observes at what stage the pathology is detected. In osteochondrosis, 3 stages are differentiated according to the image of an X-ray examination and 4 stages according to the symptomatic changes.

What happens during the pathology

Almost all vertebrae have a similar structure. They consist of a vertebral body and an arch. All vertebrae, "folded" together, form a spinal canal. The discs are located between the vertebrae - gelatinous tendons that act as shock absorbers.

It is in intervertebral discs with osteochondrosis that pathological changes begin. The fibrous part gradually becomes more fragile. Under pressure from the vertebrae, the pulposus nucleus seems to move on its own and seeks a place where it is easier to do so.

In most cases, the disc exits the spinal canal. This leads to compression of the spinal cord and nerves located there. The result is pain and symptoms in the organs for which these nerves are responsible.

In response to pressure in the body, the processes of accelerated division of bone tissue are triggered. As a result, the development of osteophytes begins - bone growth that causes a person to experience major osteochondrosis problems.

Thus, with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, the consequences can be sad, as the pathological process affects both the nervous and vascular systems.

Causes of osteochondrosis

As osteochondrosis is a dangerous enemy, it is important to understand what triggers the onset of the disease. Regardless of the location of the disease, its causes are always similar.

The main reasons why osteochondrosis can develop are as follows:

  • premature aging of the tissues of the intervertebral discs;
  • constant excessive tension of the muscles that support the spine;
  • lack of reasonable stress in these muscle groups;
  • uneven load distribution between parts of the spine, which leads to imbalance and the development of pseudospondylolisthesis;
  • the presence of a genetic predisposition for the development of degenerative processes in the cartilaginous tissues;
  • the presence of autoimmune diseases, due to which the antibodies themselves disrupt spinal nutrition.

Of course, hormonal imbalances and a poor diet can also affect your spine health. Some women found the first symptoms of the disease during pregnancy, when the workload increased.

Risk group

Acute osteochondrosis usually develops after exposure to negative factors. The following factors can trigger the onset of symptoms:

  • incorrect posture;
  • sedentary lifestyle;
  • prolonged positioning in an uncomfortable position;
  • lifting heavy weights;
  • scoliosis
  • ;
  • lack of muscular corset in the spine;
  • lack of vitamins and minerals necessary for the regeneration of bone and cartilage tissue;
  • emotional experiences;
  • serious infections;
  • unfavorable impact of ecology;
  • prolonged hypothermia;
  • get hurt;
  • abrupt changes in body position;
  • intensive sports;
  • wear shoes with uncomfortable heels;
  • being overweight;
  • metabolic disorders;
  • rheumatism;
  • congenital malformations.

As you can see, many factors can trigger the development of osteochondrosis. However, the sooner the first signs of the disease are discovered and the diagnosis made, the greater the chances of curing the pathology and preserving the quality of life.

Characteristics of the disease by stages

There are 4 stages of the disease and each has its own intensity of symptoms:

  • with grade 1 disease, the patient has no general symptoms, but there may be only localized pain;
  • with 2nd degree osteochondrosis, the pain becomes stronger, protrusion of the discs and subluxation of the vertebral bodies develops, violations of static are observed;
  • Osteochondrosis of
  • grade 3 is characterized by significant symptoms, including general, and the lesion reaches the stage of development of intervertebral hernia;
  • in 4 stages of the pathology, deficiency occurs and any medication does not bring more relief.

Of course, if osteochondrosis is detected at an early stage, it is perfectly possible to stop the progression of the disease.

However, intervertebral osteochondrosis is divided depending on the damage to the vertebral body:

  • without stage 0 violations;
  • in the 1st stage the disturbances are insignificant, sometimes there are internal tears in the vertebrae;
  • in the 2nd stage, the changes in the disc are quite noticeable and expressed, however the outer surface is preserved;
  • In the third stage, the disc is completely affected, compressed outward in the spinal cord area or outward.

If you experience mild symptoms, even lumbar spine instability or discomfort in any other area, consult a specialist for advice.

Symptoms of osteochondrosis

As already noted, the intensity of the symptoms depends on the degree of damage to the vertebral body and the location of the damage. Most patients report similar symptoms.

When the pathological process is located in the cervical spine, the following symptoms are possible:

  • blurred vision;
  • ear congestion;
  • noise in the head;
  • ringing in the ears;
  • dizziness;
  • headaches;
  • sleep apnea;
  • hearing impairment;
  • fainting;
  • vocal cord weakness;
  • neck cramps;
  • changes in blood pressure;
  • numbness of the tongue;
  • swelling of the neck;
  • eye pain;
  • insomnia;
  • neck vasospasm;
  • dental problems.
Pain with osteochondrosis

With spinal injuries in the thoracic region, the following phenomena occur:

  • muscle spasm, similar to sharp, penetrating and acute heart pain;
  • the patient has difficulty breathing;
  • pain and burning in the sternum;
  • there is a lump in the throat;
  • possible cough and nausea;
  • pains in the abdomen, especially during deep inhalation and exhalation;
  • there is severe weakness in the arms and legs;
  • The discomfort of
  • increases with the change in body position.

For problems in the sacral or lumbar spine, the following complaints appear:

  • back pain radiating to the legs;
  • freezing of the extremities below normal body temperature;
  • numbness in the legs;
  • constant tension in the leg muscles;
  • varicose veins;
  • impotence;
  • pallor of the skin;
  • dysmenorrhea.

As osteochondrosis of the back progresses, several vertebrae may merge. Then, the symptoms gradually disappear, but reappear during the exacerbation of spring-autumn.

If the vagus nerve is compressed, problems with digestion, heart rate and bladder and bladder may occur.

Syndromes in osteochondrosis

It is customary among doctors to divide symptoms into groups, syndromes. In intercostal osteochondrosis, there are:

  • syndrome;
  • vertebral artery syndrome
  • ;
  • cardiac or scapular rib syndrome;
  • root
  • .

It is worth taking a look at each of the syndromes.


In vertebral syndrome, the following image is observed:

  • mobility is impaired and neck pain occurs;
  • changes in the state of the vertebrae are visible on the radiograph;
  • the patient cannot turn his head to the side without pain.

Important! In the diagnosis, the doctor must differentiate myositis and vertebral syndrome, since the clinical picture is similar, but the treatment methods are different.

Vertebral artery

With this osteochondrosis syndrome, the following manifestations are observed:

  • nausea, vomiting;
  • pressure spikes;
  • dizziness;
  • migraines;
  • flies in the eyes;
  • drowsiness;
  • lethargy;
  • fatigue;
  • violation of emotional stability.

The doctor must differentiate this syndrome from atherosclerotic changes in the vessels and tumor processes.


This syndrome is characterized by:

  • ;
  • chest pain;
  • shortness of breath;
  • tiredness;
  • tachycardia.

When visiting a hospital, an ECG and an angiography should be performed, which confirms the absence of atherosclerosis.


Pathological signs depend on the roots that have changed. In general, this group of symptoms includes:

  • discomfort in the occipital region;
  • unpleasant sensations in language;
  • Difficulty chewing food;
  • pain when swallowing;
  • discomfort in the scapular region;
  • Difficulty performing hand movements;
  • without 4 and 5 fingers.

Since, in most cases, several parts of the spine are involved in the pathological process of osteochondrosis, entire groups of symptoms appear.

Diagnostic palpation of the spine


When symptoms of osteochondrosis appear, tests are generally not performed.

Some of the following tests are sufficient to make a diagnosis:

  • ;
  • computed tomography;
  • magnetic resonance image.

Although a conventional X-ray exam allows a diagnosis, CT and MRI are used to select medications more effectively and determine the degree of damage to the spine.

Treatment of osteochondrosis

Both during an exacerbation and during planned therapy, treatment should be comprehensive. Applies to:

  • drug treatment;
  • manual therapy;
  • Exercise therapy for osteochondrosis.

The most common treatment is at home. The main thing is that the patient strictly follows the doctor's prescription. When a patient needs injections, a day hospital can be recommended.

Peculiarities of drug treatment

Drug treatment involves using several groups of drugs at the same time. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed.

NSAIDs are initially prescribed as ointments. As the disease progresses, pills, injections or another form of antispasmodic may be recommended. Almost all non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have a pronounced analgesic effect.

For the spine to relax, you need to relieve muscle spasm. For these purposes, muscle relaxants are used.

If treatment is started in the early stages of the disease, when cartilage tissue has not yet been destroyed, it makes sense to take chondroprotectors.

Important! For all of these drugs to have any effect, they must be taken systematically, at least for six months.

Vitamin B complexes can have a positive effect on recovery.

The following drugs can also be prescribed:

  • to expand blood vessels and improve nutrition;
  • to combat vertigo;
  • topical gel to improve blood circulation.

Compresses, mustard patches and special anesthetic patches with a medicinal composition are placed on the affected areas.

Performing manual therapy

Although massage of the neck and other affected areas is believed to be a popular method, this judgment is wrong. These procedures can only be performed after a prescription and careful training. Wrong actions can cause even more damage.

You can massage with honey or with any medicinal oils. The following techniques are used:

  • light strokes with the fingertips are performed, starting from the head to the upper back;
  • rubs
  • in progress;
  • squeezing to wrap the deep layers of the fabric;
  • kneading.

Suction cups massage is effective. Self-massage can be performed. It is highly undesirable to use massagers without consulting the doctor, as an imprudent influence can damage already fragile discs.

The value of exercise therapy in osteochondrosis

To eliminate the symptoms of osteochondrosis, it is important to regularly perform a series of back exercises. There are now many popular techniques for forming the lumbar and cervical corset. We will consider only the most effective and briefly discuss their essence.

The doctor's neck gymnastics Kinesitherapy helps to improve blood circulation, relieves pain and restores freedom of movement. It does not give a quick effect, the result is only after long-term therapy. In addition to exercising, it is important to consider the treatment prescribed and follow the diet. All exercises are performed at a very slow pace, in the process, proper muscle stretching is guaranteed.

Therapeutic exercises for another doctor's neck for osteochondrosis are useful not only for people with osteochondrosis, but also for many other problems. The complex resembles more neck exercises, and classes can be held even at lunchtime. To get results and strengthen your muscles, you should exercise regularly and only after your doctor's appointment.

General recommendations for the treatment of osteochondrosis

As patients with osteochondrosis need careful periodic warm-up, a visit to the bath will be helpful for that patient. It is important to take into account the stage of the disease and the presence of other pathologies. Before such a procedure, you should consult a doctor.

To strengthen the muscle corset, you can use push-ups, physical exercises and Pilates with a trainer. It is necessary to visit the pool regularly. Each swimming session should not be less than 20 minutes, otherwise there will be no effect.

Treatment with folk remedies is allowed, but only after agreement with the attending physician and as an auxiliary therapy. Physical therapy, including electrophoresis, can be performed as directed by a doctor.


Even if the problems with the spine seem insignificant, or the patient is still a child, it is still important to be actively involved in preventing osteochondrosis.

It is important to observe the following best practices:

  • use orthopedic pillows to sleep;
  • lead an active lifestyle;
  • set aside time for sports, especially swimming;
  • heat several times a day;
  • be careful when doing physically demanding jobs;
  • give up bad habits.

Diet is important, as certain foods increase the risk of disease, namely:

  • ;
  • smoked meats;
  • spices
  • ;
  • sweets;
  • fatty and fried foods.

It is important to limit soft drinks and coffee, and it is preferable to give preference to teas and broths. Proper nutrition will help to protect the body from damage to bone and cartilage tissues.

As in the early stages of osteochondrosis the process can be interrupted and even reversed, it is necessary to consult a doctor immediately and do an examination when the first symptoms appear. This is the only way to maintain physical activity for many years!