Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is a common degenerative disease with many complications and consequences. The pathology is characterized by slow but irreversible destruction of cartilage tissue of the vertebrae and intervertebral discs and greater involvement of destructive processes in ligaments, muscles and bone structures.
Without adequate and timely therapy, osteochondrosis causes protrusions, herniated intervertebral discs: these diseases can lead to disability and various functional disorders. 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 a number of important features based on the purely anatomical features of this part. The cervical vertebrae are much smaller and more mobile than the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae. The cervical spine, while the body is at rest, has a constant load: the vertebrae must hold the head and the neck must interact with the musculoskeletal system.
The more mobile the vertebrae are, the higher the risk of degenerative diseases. Another feature is the presence of a large number of important nerve plexuses in the cervical region. In this part, the vertebral artery, which provides oxygen and nutrients to the brain and cerebellum, passes. In osteochondrosis, constriction of the blood vessels caused by the displacement of the discs causes cerebral ischemia, which is fraught with stroke, mental retardation, hearing, vision, memory, attention, and sleep disorders.
The compactness of this part is an additional risk factor for the displacement of vertebral structures. The slightest disturbance of the anatomical condition of the spine causes spasmodic events in the muscles, neurological and vascular symptoms. Edema and inflammation in the nerve roots cause severe pain that cannot be relieved with analgesics, and compression of the spinal cord can cause sensory disturbances in the upper extremities.
Before thinking about how to treat cervical spine osteochondrosis, you need to understand what causes this disease. Most of the causes can be eliminated in time, preventing the development of complications and degenerative processes.
The development of pathology is influenced by the following factors:
- Poor posture, staying in one position for a long time;
- Prone to sedentary work and passive rest;
- Cervical spine injuries and traumas;
- Hereditary predisposition;
- excess mass;
- Deficiency of some micronutrients;
- presence of chronic foci of infection in the body;
- Age-related dystrophic processes in spinal tissues;
- Exposure to toxic substances and some drugs;
- Sleeping on an uncomfortable pillow or an extremely soft surface;
The success of treatment depends largely on a correct diagnosis. Diagnostic measures are aimed not only at identifying the disease, but also to identify its causes. The physician should prepare a detailed medical history, taking into account the duration and intensity of symptoms, hereditary factors, the patient's lifestyle and nutritional status, and the presence of concomitant diseases in the patient.
The following procedures are defined:
- Radiography (including the use of contrast);
- Blood test;
- MRI, CT and ultrasound;
- Perforation of the spinal cord for bacteriological examination (rare);
- Motor tests.
Modern imaging techniques (MRI and CT) allow you to accurately determine the location of degenerative processes, to detect constriction of blood vessels and nerve endings. In some cases, heart tests are scheduled.
Modern therapy methods
How to accurately treat osteochondrosis of the spine, the doctor decides based on the diagnosis and the patient's current condition. Some people believe that osteochondrosis is a temporary disease and goes away on its own. People deliberately ignore back pain, believing that it causes fatigue, injury, "salt deposition". It should be understood that degenerative processes in the spine are irreversible, and the earlier treatment is started, the more effective it will be.
Using folk methods is not a very smart choice. Most non-traditional methods can only temporarily stop the symptoms of the disease without affecting the causes in any way. Only a specialist (orthopedist or vertebrologist) can prescribe therapy appropriate to your current condition.
The main tasks of treatment are to stop the development of degenerative tissue, relieve the patient of unbearable pain and restore the functional state of the spinal structures, strengthen the musculoskeletal system. The therapeutic goal is to prevent complications of the disease.
Treatment of osteochondrosis of the neck is divided into conservative and radical. Most of the clinical manifestations are eliminated with conservative therapy. Doctors develop an individual treatment regimen for each patient: there is no single therapeutic protocol for osteochondrosis.
In the first stage, it is necessary to eliminate the symptoms of pain, inflammation (if any), improve blood circulation and nutrition. Then comes the recovery phase. Patients must be patient and strictly follow the recommendations of specialists: you must be ready for a long and varied therapy to achieve lasting results.
Treatment methods of cervical osteochondrosis used in modern clinics:
- Drug effects;
- Manual therapy;
- Hardware massage;
- psychosomatic relief;
- Surgical intervention.
Let's take a closer look at the most appropriate methods.
Medications are mainly used in the early stages of treatment. The use of drugs is to relieve pain, inflammation, stimulate blood circulation and metabolism, and promote healthy tissue nutrition. External drugs are mainly used - ointments, gels. Less commonly, tablets 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 (given as intramuscular or epidural injections);
- Muscle relaxant - relieves muscle spasms;
- Vitamins to stimulate metabolism and improve cell and tissue nutrition.
In the acute stage of the disease, professional drug treatment is mandatory. Helps to stabilize the patient's condition and prepare him for further treatment.
Most professional vertebrologists consider physiotherapy to be the most effective method in the treatment of osteochondrosis. Physiotherapy covers the effects of natural factors and devices on the body.
A stable and clear healing effect occurs with the following treatments:
- Balneotherapy (exposure to mineral water);
- Mud treatment;
- Paraffin and ozokerite applications;
- Kinesio tapes - apply special adhesive years to the affected areas;
- exposure to bee and snake venom;
- Hirudotherapy (leech therapy);
- Shock wave therapy;
- Ultrasound treatment;
- Electro- and phonophoresis;
- Laser therapy;
- CMT (amplipsy therapy).
Physiotherapy is used both to relieve pain and to restore the spine and restore the patient's function.
Manual therapy and apparatus massage
Professional massage is no less effective than physiotherapy. Because of the high risk of injury to the cervical spine, it is important that the manipulations be performed by a trained and qualified professional. Massage improves blood circulation, improves nutrition, relieves fatigue, stimulates lymph flow, relieves muscle tension, relaxes ligaments and accelerates the recovery of soft tissues. In addition, the patient has a psychosomatic discharge.
At home, it is allowed to use the simplest massage equipment - hand massagers, applicators. Electric massagers have a good therapeutic effect - they can also be used for prophylactic purposes.
In some cases, the effect on certain biologically active points of the body has a therapeutic effect. Reflexology (acupuncture) is performed using acupuncture, moxibustion or acupressure. One of the conditions for the implementation of such procedures is the presence of a certified specialist and strict adherence to sanitary standards.
For cervical osteochondrosis, gymnastics is mandatory in the recovery phase. If patients do not want to allow relapses and the development of the disease, they should strengthen the ligaments and muscles and stimulate blood flow to the affected area. These results can be achieved with regular gymnastic exercises.
Exercise therapy complex is prepared by an instructor or a doctor directly involved: all the nuances of the disease and the patient's condition must be taken into account. In the first stage, the loads should be minimal: the tissue should not be injured and should not be overloaded. In the future, cervical spine gymnastics should become a kind of habit: exercises can be performed while working, relaxing in front of the TV.
Nutrition is no less important for the condition of the spine and surrounding tissues. Patients with osteochondrosis should eat differently and rationally. It is necessary to remove from the menu "fast" carbohydrates, fast food, canned food, fatty meat. Dishes with mucopolysaccharides are a must - mixed meat, jelly, jelly.
Surgery for osteochondrosis is rarely used. If conservative treatment does not work or the spinal cord, which is full of paralysis, is severely compressed, surgery is performed. Sometimes surgery is used to remove osteophytes - bone growths in the body of the spine and discs.