Chondrosis is a degenerative-dystrophic disease in which there is a gradual decrease in the height of hyaline intervertebral cartilage. In simple words, discs simply wear out and lose their functions over time.
Chondrosis of the spine most often occurs at the age of 30-35 years. It affects about 40% of the population under 35-40 years old and almost 90% in old age. When exposed to adverse factors, the disease may manifest itself earlier.
It is chondrosis that is considered the main cause of back pain. Without treatment, the disease leads to damage to the nerve roots, damage to the spinal cord and disruption of the internal organs.
Symptoms and signs of chondrosis
Depending on the localization of lesions of the intervertebral discs, osteochondrosis is divided into several types. Stand out:
- cervical chondrosis. A common form of the disease, due to the rather weak development of the muscular skeleton of the neck and the close location of the vertebrae in relation to each other;
- chest chondrosis. A rarer form of the disease that occurs against the background of scoliosis, congenital or acquired;
- lumbar chondrosis. The most common form of the disease. This is due to the fact that the lower back is the shock absorber for most movements and therefore experiences the most severe stress.
Chondrosis of the lumbar causes the following symptoms:
- lower back pain. They are aggravated by exercise, prolonged sitting and sharp turns. The pain is aching. If it is sharp, this already indicates the development of an intervertebral hernia;
- pain in the legs. It occurs due to pinching of the roots of the spinal cord, can only spread to one side of the thigh. Pain in osteochondrosis are aching or shooting;
- restrictions in mobility when sitting, tilting and turning;
- spasms in the lower extremities. The skin on the legs becomes dry, flaky, and in the area of discomfort it becomes covered with goosebumps.
Lumbar chondrosis of the spine also causes general symptoms of malaise. A person gets tired quickly, suffers from headaches, fatigue and irritability. Because of the discomfort in his back, he is unable to choose a comfortable position for sleeping. Even osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine can provoke disorders in the genitourinary system:
- pain in the kidney area;
- problems with urination;
- deterioration of potency;
- problems with the uterus, ovaries and appendages in women.
Chondrosis of the cervical spine occurs when the intervertebral discs in the region of 1-7 vertebrae are affected. In this area, they are the smallest, and therefore especially vulnerable to such a disease. Osteochondrosis of the neck causes pain that can be localized throughout the cervical region, in the collarbone and shoulder, or on the anterior surface of the chest. Headache can also occur in the occipital region. Against this background, there is heaviness in the head.
Another osteochondrosis of the cervical region causes a crunch in the neck when turning the head. The muscles in this area are constantly tense, and there may be numbness and tingling in the shoulders and arms. Other symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis:
- difficulty moving the arms to the side;
- severe shootings in the neck;
- dizziness and headaches;
- pain in the region of the heart;
- numbness and tingling of the fingers;
- sensation of a lump in the throat.
Osteochondrosis of the thoracic region is less common than other types of this disease. It is characterized by girdle pains in the chest area, which are aggravated by movements and bending over. They give to the heart, the inner surface of the shoulder, the armpit area. The patient also has breathing problems, severe shortness of breath is possible.
Symptoms of chondrosis of the thoracic region can also manifest themselves in the form of attacks of intercostal neuralgia. It is characterized by the occurrence of acute pain in one half of the chest. It gives to the retrosternal region, epigastrium, arms and shoulder blades.
Reasons for development
Chondrosis is a multifactorial disease that has many possible causes of development. Basically, the disease develops as a result of a person’s upright posture, in which the spine experiences the greatest load. The situation is aggravated by the fact that with age, the functions of blood vessels deteriorate, the diet becomes less complete, and the body as a whole ages. Against this background, absolutely any factors can start the development of osteochondrosis:
- flat feet;
- excess weight;
- sedentary lifestyle;
- carrying a bag on one shoulder;
- sleep on a soft pillow or mattress;
- scoliosis and other posture disorders;
- vertebral instability;
- multiple pregnancies;
- long history of smoking.
Symptoms of chondrosis may appear due to injuries or heavy physical exertion, which is especially true for athletes. Congenital defects of the spine can lead to rapid abrasion of the intervertebral discs. Risk factors for developing osteochondrosis also include:
- neuro-emotional exhaustion;
- physical overstrain of the body;
- work on vibration platforms;
- genetic predisposition;
- lack of vitamins in the body;
- multiple pregnancy.
Without proper treatment, chondrosis can provoke complications, among which the most common are:
- intervertebral hernia;
- spinal cord stroke;
- atrophy of the muscles of the lower extremities;
- paralysis of the legs.
When to See a Doctor
Symptoms and treatment of chondrosis is the competence of a neurologist , who is worth a visit at the first sign of the disease. This pathology is difficult to treat, and the more it is started, the more difficult it is to cope with the developed symptoms. Therefore, do not postpone a visit to the doctor for later. In JSC “Medicina” (clinic of academician Roitberg) you can contact a neurologist even on holidays or weekends. Our clinic is open seven days a week and is located in a convenient location in the center of Moscow, within walking distance from Mayakovskaya, Belorusskaya, Novoslobodskaya metro stations.
Preparing to visit a doctor
Special preparation for visiting a neurologist is not required. It is only important to describe the symptoms and the time of their appearance to the doctor as accurately as possible. To do this, it is better to write them down on a piece of paper in advance so that you don’t forget to mention anything at the reception.
Diagnosis of chondrosis
For a correct diagnosis, if chondrosis is suspected, they resort mainly to instrumental methods. In JSC “Medicina” (clinic of Academician Roitberg) you can undergo all the studies necessary in such cases:
- radiography of one or another part of the spine;
- computed and magnetic resonance imaging (CT and MRI);
- neurological examination of sensitivity and reflexes.
Treatment of osteochondrosis in general includes the following activities:
- physiotherapy courses;
- taking medications;
- different types of massage;
- manual therapy;
- physiotherapy exercises (LFK).
Treatment of chondrosis is carried out with the help of drugs from different groups. The main medicines prescribed by the doctor:
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Their goal is to eliminate inflammation and relieve the symptoms of osteochondrosis. In mild cases, they are prescribed in the form of tablets, in severe cases – in injections. Used in a course of 7-14 days. Additionally, they can be used in the form of ointments;
- glucocorticosteroids. Used in more severe cases. They are administered as injections directly into the painful area;
- muscle relaxants. Temporarily reduce muscle tension, relieving pain and inflammation. They are prescribed both in the acute period and during remission;
- vitamins of group B. Useful for improving the nerve conduction of the spine;
- chondoprotectors. Help improve the nutrition of intervertebral cartilage, strengthen discs;
- vascular drugs. Improve blood supply to the spine.
With chondrosis 2 times a year, it is necessary to undergo a course of therapeutic massage. It helps relieve tension in the muscles, eliminate clamps, and improves blood circulation in tissues. Massage is allowed only at the stage of remission. It has a positive effect on the state of the nervous system and increases the body’s resistance to diseases.
Traction is called the procedure of artificial spinal traction with the help of special equipment and simulators. As a result, it is possible to achieve a uniform distribution of the vertebrae along the entire length of the spine. So excessive tension at the site of inflammation subsides, and the pains go away, as the pinched vessels and nerves are released.
The goal of manual therapy is to correct the curvature of the spine. The methodology is based on physical point impact on the human musculoskeletal system. This helps to improve blood circulation and lymph circulation, which helps to increase the mobility of the musculoskeletal system.
Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis by methods of physiotherapy is practiced during the remission of the disease. The procedures are aimed at reducing symptoms and increasing the effect of the medications taken. Most often, chondrosis involves ultrasound, low-frequency currents, a laser, and magnetic vibrations.
The essence of reflexology is the correct effect on pain points and reflex zones. The technique is not used on its own, only in combination with massage, since a more significant effect is observed this way. With the help of reflexology, it is possible to relieve pain, restore the natural load on the spine.
Exercises for chondrosis are an integral part of the treatment of the disease, regardless of the affected area. Dosed loads on the joints and muscles help to strengthen the muscular corset of the back, make it more flexible and improve overall well-being. Physiotherapy exercises should take place outside the acute stage of the disease, when severe pain is stopped, otherwise the condition can only worsen.
The main methods of exercise therapy:
- mechanotherapy – performing exercises on special simulators and devices. In this technique, they resort in the presence of difficulties in movements against the background of a serious degree of damage to the spine;
- kinesitherapy is a combination of physical exercises and breathing exercises. The complex is developed for a specific patient;
- health path – hiking with a set of simple exercises that improve the functions of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems;
- therapeutic swimming is one of the best forms of exercise for chondrosis. Helps in developing correct posture and returning the position of the shoulder section to a natural look.
To treat chondrosis at home, you must first consult with your doctor. Alternative treatment mainly consists in the use of various ointments and drinking herbal preparations, as well as the use of rubbing. From home remedies for the treatment of osteochondrosis, you can use:
- tincture from cinquefoil. She needs to rub the sore spot, and then tie a warm scarf on top or wrap herself in a blanket. Additionally, you can take the tincture inside – a couple of drops every day before bedtime;
- ointment. Mix 1 tbsp. vinegar with 1 tbsp. flour, 100 g butter and an egg. Leave the mixture in a dark place for 2 days. Then mix thoroughly and rub into the sore spot;
- tincture of radish. To 300 ml of juice of this vegetable add 100 ml of vodka and 200 g of honey. Rub the sore spot with the resulting mixture daily before going to bed until pain is eliminated.
Myths and dangerous delusions
Many patients do not consider chondrosis a serious disease, which is why they do not seek help from specialists. Such an approach to such a disease is completely wrong. Chondrosis needs to be treated. And this must be done in a timely manner.
The reason is also that this is a disease not only of the spine, but of the whole organism. The spine is responsible for almost all body functions, acts as a frame for internal organs, which is why Chondrosis causes problems with many body systems.
Many do not pay attention to back pain, believing that they will pass by themselves. In reality, as osteochondrosis progresses, the pain will only intensify and bring even more discomfort over time. It is also worth remembering that timely treatment for such a disease brings very good results. Many patients manage to get rid of pain, stop the progression and avoid complications of chondrosis.
The main way to prevent chondrosis is to maintain an active lifestyle. Doctors recommend moving more: doing exercises, swimming, cycling, running and walking more. It is equally important to maintain a normal posture, especially when sitting. The back should be straight and the shoulders relaxed. You can sit while working only on comfortable chairs and armchairs that provide proper support to the spine.
Other measures to prevent osteochondrosis:
- wearing comfortable shoes;
- proper nutrition with enough vitamins;
- sleep on an orthopedic mattress and pillow;
- performing exercises on the back and abdominal press;
- avoid heels if possible.