Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is a common degenerative disease, fraught with many complications and consequences. The pathology is characterized by the slow, but inexorable, destruction of the cartilaginous tissue of the vertebrae and intervertebral discs and subsequent involvement of ligaments, muscles and bone structures in destructive processes.
Without adequate and timely therapy, osteochondrosis leads to protrusions, intervertebral disc herniation: these diseases can cause disability and various functional disorders. The treatment of cervical osteochondrosis is a long, gradual and complex process that must be carried out under the guidance of qualified specialists.
Causes and symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis
Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine has several significant characteristics based on the purely anatomical properties of this section. The neck vertebrae are much smaller and more mobile than the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae. The cervical spine has a constant load, even when the body is at rest: the vertebrae need to hold the head and interact with the neck muscle-ligament apparatus.
The more mobile the vertebrae, the greater the risk of degenerative diseases. Another characteristic is the presence in the cervical region of a large number of important nerve plexuses. In this section, the vertebral artery passes, which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the brain and cerebellum. The compression of blood vessels caused by dislocation of the disks in osteochondrosis leads to cerebral ischemia, and this is fraught with strokes, cognitive impairments, hearing impairment, vision, memory, attention and sleep disorders.
The compression of this section is an additional risk factor for the displacement of the vertebral structures. The slightest violation of the anatomical state of the spine causes spasmodic phenomena in the muscles, neurological and vascular symptoms. Edema and inflammation in the nerve roots cause severe pain that cannot be relieved with pain relievers, and compression of the spinal cord can cause sensory disturbances in the upper extremities.
Before figuring out how to treat osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, you need to understand what causes this disease. Most causes can be eliminated in a timely manner, avoiding complications and progression of degenerative processes.
The following factors influence the development of the pathology:
- Inadequate posture, prolonged exposure to a position;
- Sedentary work and inclination to passive rest;
- Injuries and trauma to the cervical spine;
- Hereditary predisposition;
- Excessive mass;
- Deficiency of some microelements;
- The presence of chronic foci of infection in the body;
- Age-related dystrophic processes in spinal tissues;
- Exposure to toxins and certain medications;
- Sleeping on an uncomfortable pillow or excessively soft surface;
In rare cases, the causes of cervical osteochondrosis are systemic autoimmune diseases - lupus erythematosus, systemic polyarthritis. In most clinical situations, the development of the disease is influenced by several pathogenic factors at the same time - damage, nature of work, errors in the diet.
The success of the treatment depends a lot on the correct diagnosis. Diagnostic measures aim not only to determine the disease, but also to discover its causes. The doctor must make a detailed anamnesis, taking into account the duration and intensity of symptoms, hereditary factors, lifestyle and nutritional status of the patient, the presence of concomitant diseases in the patient.
The following procedures are assigned:
- Radiography (including the use of contrast);
- Blood test;
- MRI, CT and ultrasound;
- Spinal cord puncture for bacteriological examination (in rare cases);
- Engine tests.
Modern imaging techniques (magnetic resonance and computed tomography) make it possible to accurately determine the location of degenerative processes, detect compression of blood vessels and nerve endings. In some cases, cardiac studies are prescribed.
Modern methods of therapy
How exactly to treat osteochondrosis of the spine, the doctor decides based on the diagnosis and the current state of the patient. Some people believe that osteochondrosis is a temporary disease and goes away on its own. People deliberately ignore back pain, believing that it is caused by fatigue, injuries, "salt deposits". It must be understood that the degenerative processes of the spine are irreversible and the sooner the treatment is started, the more effective it will be.
Using popular techniques is also not a very smart option. Most unconventional methods can only temporarily stop the symptoms of the disease, without affecting the causes. Only a specialist (orthopedist or vertebrologist) can prescribe the appropriate therapy for your current condition.
The main tasks of the treatment are to interrupt the degenerative transformations of the tissue, relieve the patient from excruciating pain and restore the functional state of the vertebral structures, strengthening the ligament-muscular apparatus. The therapeutic objective is to prevent complications of the disease.
The methods of treating neck osteochondrosis are divided into conservative and radical. Most clinical manifestations are eliminated with conservative therapy. For each patient, doctors develop an individual treatment regimen: there is no single therapeutic protocol for osteochondrosis.
In the first phase, it is necessary to relieve the symptoms of pain, inflammation (if any), improve blood circulation and nutrition. Then comes the recovery stage. Patients must be patient and strictly follow the experts' recommendations: to obtain sustainable results, you need to be ready for a long and varied therapy.
Methods for the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis, practiced in modern clinics:
- Medicinal effects;
- Manual therapy;
- Hardware massage;
- Psychosomatic relief;
- Surgical intervention.
Let's consider the most relevant methods in more detail.
The drugs are used mainly in the initial phase of treatment. The goals of using medications are to relieve pain, inflammation, stimulate blood circulation and metabolism and establish healthy tissue nutrition. External medicines are mainly used - ointments, gels. Less commonly, pills and injections are used.
The main groups of drugs prescribed for osteochondrosis of the neck:
- Topical ointments containing analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs;
- Corticosteroids (administered as intramuscular or epidural injections);
- Muscle relaxants - relieve muscle spasms;
- Vitamins to stimulate metabolism and improve cell and tissue nutrition.
Professional drug therapy is mandatory in the acute phase of the disease. It helps to stabilize the patient's condition and prepare him for further treatment.
Most professional vertebrologists consider physiotherapy to be the most effective method of treating osteochondrosis. Physical therapy involves the impact on the body of natural factors and hardware.
A stable and pronounced healing effect is produced by treatment methods such as:
- Balneotherapy (exposure to mineral waters);
- Mud therapy;
- Paraffin and ozokerite applications;
- Kinesio taping - the imposition of special adhesive years on the affected areas;
- Exposure to bee and snake venom;
- Hirudotherapy (leech therapy);
- Shockwave therapy;
- Ultrasound treatment;
- Electrophoresis and phonophoresis;
- Laser therapy;
- CMT (amplipulse therapy).
Physiotherapy is used to relieve pain and to rehabilitate the spine and restore the patient's activity.
Manual therapy and massage with devices
Professional massage is no less effective than physical therapy. It is important that manipulations are performed by a trained and competent specialist, as the risk of injury to the cervical spine is very high. Massage improves blood circulation, improves nutrition, relieves fatigue, stimulates lymphatic flow, eliminates muscle tension, relaxes ligaments and accelerates soft tissue regeneration. In addition, psychosomatic discharge from the patient occurs.
At home, the use of the simplest massage equipment is permitted - manual massagers, applicators. Electric massagers have a good therapeutic effect - they can also be used for preventive purposes.
The action on certain biologically active points in the body also gives a therapeutic result in some situations. Reflexology (acupuncture) is performed using acupuncture, moxibustion or acupressure. A prerequisite for carrying out such procedures is the participation of an accredited specialist and strict adherence to health standards.
Gymnastics for cervical osteochondrosis are mandatory in the recovery phase. If patients do not wish to allow relapse and disease progression, they must strengthen the ligaments and muscles and stimulate blood flow in the affected area. These results can be achieved with regular gymnastic exercises.
The exercise therapy complex is developed by the instructor or directly by the attending physician: all nuances of the disease and the patient's condition must be taken into account. In the first stage, the loads must be minimal: the fabric must not be injured and overloaded. In the future, gymnastics of the cervical spine should become a kind of habit: the exercises can be performed during work, relaxing in front of the TV.
For the condition of the spine and surrounding tissues, nutrition is not of little importance. Osteochondrosis patients should eat in a varied and rational way. It is necessary to exclude from the menu "fast" carbohydrates, fast food, canned food, fatty meat. Mucopolysaccharide dishes should be present - cold meat, jam, jam.
Surgical intervention for osteochondrosis is rarely used. The operations are performed if the conservative treatment does not give any results or if there is severe compression of the spinal cord, with development of paralysis. Sometimes surgery is used to remove osteophytes - bone growths in the body from vertebrae and discs.