Symptoms and treatment of osteochondrosis


The spine performs the most important functions in the human body. In this article you will learn everything about what is osteochondrosis, symptoms and treatment of this disease, pathological symptoms and causes of the disease.

What is osteochondrosis

Osteochondrosis is a disease that affects the intervertebral discs and other tissues of the spine. Dystrophic processes are triggered inside the spine. The vertebrae, as it were, squeeze and crush these discs, which gradually leads to compression of the nerve endings of the spinal cord.

Important! If left untreated, osteochondrosis can lead to pathological disability.

About 80% of the world's population suffers from spinal pathology. Osteochondrosis is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 15 and 30. Although the disease occurs in both men and women, a strong half of humanity finds it more difficult to tolerate the disease.

The disease begins to develop and manifest itself at a relatively mature age when a person leads an active life. Although osteochondrosis is possible in children, it is less common than in adults.

Despite the fact that experts around the world are working together to eradicate the disease, new cases of osteochondrosis are registered every year. Much depends on the individual's 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 sternum;
  • osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine;
  • Osteochondrosis of the sacral region.

Extensive osteochondrosis is also distinguished. This is a pathological form in which several departments are affected at the same time. For example, osteochondrosis of the lumbosacral region is common because this part of the spine experiences a constantly increasing load.

No matter what type of disease a person encounters, the complications are always severe. Therefore, it is important to diagnose the disease as soon as possible and provide qualified first aid.

When a doctor makes a diagnosis, he notes the stage at which the pathology is detected. There are 3 stages according to the form of X-ray examination with osteochondrosis, 4 stages according to the symptomatic changes.

What happens during pathology

Almost all spines have a similar structure. It consists of a vertebral body and an arch. All vertebrae "folded" together form a spinal canal. The discs are located between the vertebrae - jelly-like tendons that act as shock absorbers.

Pathological changes begin in the intervertebral discs with osteochondrosis. The fibrous part gradually becomes more fragile. Under the pressure of the vertebrae, the pulposus nucleus makes a movement for itself and seeks a place where it is easiest to do so.

In most cases, the disc goes into the spinal canal. This causes the spinal cord and the nerves located there to constrict. The result is pain and symptoms in the organs responsible for these nerves.

In response to pressure in the body, the processes of rapid division of bone tissue are triggered. As a result, the development of osteophytes begins - bone growth, which is a major problem for people with osteochondrosis.

Thus, the consequences of cervical spine osteochondrosis can be sad, because the pathological process affects both the nervous and vascular systems at the same time.

Causes of osteochondrosis

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

The main reasons why osteochondrosis can develop are:

  • premature aging of tissues in the intervertebral discs;
  • persistent overload of the muscles that support the spine;
  • lack of reasonable stress in these muscle groups;
  • uneven distribution of load between the lumbar regions, which leads to imbalance and the development of pseudospondylolisthesis;
  • genetic predisposition to the development of degenerative processes in cartilage tissues;
  • Presence of autoimmune diseases due to disruption of spinal antibodies by their own antibodies.

Undoubtedly, hormonal imbalances and poor nutrition can also affect the health of the spine. Some women experience symptoms of illness for the first time during pregnancy when their workload increases.

Risk group

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

  • wrong posture;
  • sedentary lifestyle;
  • long-term placement in an uncomfortable situation;
  • lift heavy weights;
  • scoliosis;
  • lack of a muscular corset;
  • deficiency of vitamins and minerals necessary for the regeneration of bone and cartilage tissue;
  • emotional experiences;
  • severe infections;
  • impact of unfavorable ecology;
  • long-term hypothermia;
  • to be injured;
  • abrupt changes in body position;
  • power sports;
  • wear uncomfortable heeled shoes;
  • overweight;
  • metabolic diseases;
  • rheumatism;
  • Congenital defects.

As you can see, many factors can lead to the development of osteochondrosis. However, the sooner the first signs of the disease are detected and diagnosed, the better the chances of treating the pathology and maintaining quality of life.

Characteristics of the disease by stages

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

  • A patient with grade 1 disease has no general symptoms, but may have localized pain;
  • With grade 2 osteochondrosis, the pain intensifies, disc protrusion and subluxation of the vertebral bodies develop, static disorders are observed;
  • Significant symptoms, including general symptoms, are characteristic of grade 3 osteochondrosis, and the lesion reaches the stage of intervertebral hernia development;
  • Disability occurs in 4 stages of pathology, and any medication no longer brings relief.

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

However, intervertebral osteochondrosis is divided into spinal cord injuries:

  • There is no violation in stage 0;
  • In stage 1, the discomfort is insignificant, sometimes there are internal tears in the vertebrae;
  • In stage 2, the changes in the disk are very noticeable and expressed, but the outer surface is preserved;
  • In stage 3, the disc is completely affected, compressing the spinal cord or the outside.

You should consult a specialist for minor symptoms, even instability in the lower back or discomfort in another area.

Symptoms of Osteochondrosis

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

The following symptoms are possible when the pathological process is localized in the cervical spine:

  • blurred vision;
  • ear blockage;
  • noise at the beginning;
  • ringing in the ears;
  • dizziness;
  • headaches;
  • sleep apnea;
  • hearing impairment;
  • fainting;
  • weakness of vocal cords;
  • neck cramps;
  • changes in blood pressure;
  • language matching;
  • swelling of the neck;
  • pain in the eyes;
  • insomnia;
  • cervical vascular spasm;
  • dental problems.
Pain with osteochondrosis

The following events occur with chest injuries in the chest area:

  • muscle spasm resembling cutting, stabbing and acute heart pain;
  • the patient has difficulty breathing;
  • sternum pain and burning;
  • there is a lump in the throat;
  • possible cough and nausea;
  • abdominal pain, especially during deep breathing and exhalation;
  • There is severe weakness in the arms and legs;
  • Anxiety increases with changes in body position.

The following complaints occur for sacral or lumbar problems:

  • back pain spreading to the legs;
  • freezing of the lower extremities at normal body temperature;
  • numbness in the legs;
  • constant tension in the leg muscles;
  • varicose veins;
  • impotence;
  • pale skin;
  • dysmenorrhea.

As the posterior osteochondrosis progresses, several vertebrae may coalesce. Then the symptomatology gradually disappears, but reappears during the spring-autumn exacerbation.

If the vagus nerve is constricted, digestive, palpitations, bladder and bladder problems can occur.

Syndromes in Osteochondrosis

It is common for doctors to divide symptoms into groups and syndromes. With intercostal osteochondrosis, there are:

  • vertebral syndrome;
  • vertebral artery syndrome;
  • heart or scapular rib syndrome;
  • radical.

Each of the syndromes is worth a closer look.


The following picture is observed with vertebral syndrome:

  • mobility is impaired and neck pain occurs;
  • changes in the condition of the vertebrae are visible in the form of X-rays;
  • The patient cannot turn his head painlessly.

Important! When making a diagnosis, the doctor must distinguish between myositis and vertebral syndrome, because the clinical picture is similar, but the methods of treatment are different.

Vertebral artery

The following manifestations are observed with this osteochondrosis syndrome:

  • nausea, vomiting;
  • pressure increase;
  • dizziness;
  • migraine;
  • flies in the eyes;
  • drowsiness;
  • sluggishness;
  • fatigue;
  • Violation of emotional stability.

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


This syndrome is characterized by:

  • combustion;
  • chest pain;
  • shortness of breath;
  • fatigue;
  • tachycardia.

Upon arrival at a hospital, an ECG and angiography should be performed to confirm the absence of atherosclerosis.


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

  • discomfort in the occipital region;
  • unpleasant feelings in the language;
  • Difficulty chewing;
  • pain when swallowing;
  • discomfort in the scapular region;
  • difficulty performing hand movements;
  • Does not have 4 or 5 fingers.

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

Diagnostic palpation of the spine


As a rule, tests are not performed when signs of osteochondrosis appear.

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

  • x-ray;
  • computed tomography;
  • magnetic resonance imaging.

Although a conventional X-ray diagnosis is made, CT and MRI are used to more effectively select medications and determine the degree of spinal cord damage.

Treatment of osteochondrosis

Treatment should be comprehensive, both during exacerbations and during planned therapy. Applies to:

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

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

Features of drug treatment

Drug treatment involves the use of several groups of drugs at the same time. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed.

NSAIDs are initially prescribed as an ointment. As the disease progresses, tablets, injections, or another form of antispasmodic may be recommended. Almost all non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have analgesic effects.

You need to relieve muscle spasms to relax your spine. Muscle carriers are used for this purpose.

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

Important! All of these medications must be taken systematically for at least six months for them to work.

B vitamins can have a positive effect on recovery.

The following medications may also be prescribed:

  • dilate blood vessels and improve nutrition;
  • fight dizziness;
  • Topical gel to improve blood circulation.

Compresses, mustard plasters and special anesthetic plasters containing drugs are applied to the affected areas.

Manual treatment

Although it is believed that massage of the neck and other affected areas is a folk method, this decision is wrong. Such procedures can be performed only with a doctor's prescription and careful training. Wrong actions can do more harm.

You can massage with honey or any medicinal oil. The following methods are used:

  • light strokes with fingertips from head to toe;
  • continues to rub;
  • squeeze to compress layers of deep tissue;
  • kneading.

Towing massage is effective. Can be self-massaged. It is highly undesirable to use massage devices without consulting your doctor, as careless exposure can damage already fragile discs.

The cost of exercise therapy in osteochondrosis

To get rid of the symptoms of osteochondrosis, it is important to do a series of exercises for the spine on a regular basis. There are now many popular techniques for forming a lumbar and cervical corset. Let's look at only the most effective ones and briefly discuss their essence.

Kinesitherapy doctor's neck gymnastics helps to improve blood circulation, reduce pain and restore freedom of movement. It does not have a rapid effect, the result occurs only after long-term therapy. In addition to exercise, it is important to consider the prescribed treatment and follow a diet. All exercises are performed at a very slow pace, during which proper muscle stretching is ensured.

Therapeutic exercises for the neck of another doctor for osteochondrosis are useful not only for people with osteochondrosis, but also for many other problems. The complex is more like a workout for the neck, and classes can also be done at lunch. You need to exercise regularly and only after a doctor's appointment to get results and strengthen your muscles.

General recommendations for the treatment of osteochondrosis

Since patients with osteochondrosis need to be warmed up periodically, it will be useful for such a patient to visit the bath. It is important to consider only the stage of the disease and the presence of other pathologies. You should consult a doctor before such a procedure.

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

Treatment with folk remedies is allowed, but only in consultation with the attending physician and in the form of adjuvant therapy. Physiotherapy, including electrophoresis, can be performed under the direction of a physician.


Even if spinal problems seem insignificant or the patient is still a child, it is important to take an active part in the prevention of osteochondrosis.

It is important to follow the following best practices:

  • use orthopedic sleeping pads;
  • lead an active lifestyle;
  • Spend time on sports, especially swimming;
  • warm up several times a day;
  • Be careful when you require a lot of physical work;
  • Get rid of bad habits.

Diet is important because some foods increase the risk of disease:

  • salting;
  • smoked meats;
  • spices;
  • confectionery;
  • fatty and fried foods.

It is important to limit soda and coffee, and it is better to prefer tea and broth. Proper nutrition will help protect the body from damage to bone and cartilage tissue.

In the early stages of osteochondrosis, the process can be stopped or even reversed, so you should see a doctor immediately and be examined at the first symptoms. This is the only way to stay physically active for many years!