All about osteochondrosis of the spine: signs and methods of treatment

Osteochondrosis of the spine - a disease that affects the articular cartilage and vertebrae

Osteochondrosis is included in the category of disorders that often occur. In 75% of cases, it is he who causes unpleasant back pain. Today, every other person after twenty years has manifestations of pathology. The risk of developing the disease increases with age. If you do not start treatment immediately, osteochondrosis can cause negative health consequences.

What is osteochondrosis of the spine

This process affects the articular cartilage and nearby bones. Initially, osteochondrosis affects only the discs that hold the vertebrae together. Then the dystrophic process affects the ligaments and vertebrae, disrupts the integrity of the joints.

The insidiousness of the pathology is that the cartilage of the discs is not subject to regeneration. Due to that, the area of the spine affected by the disease will inexorably collapse. When the disease appears, it is possible to stop its development, but it is impossible to completely eliminate it.

This pathology is not associated with inflammation - it is based on malnutrition of tissues and degeneration of their structure. In the absence of load, the tissues lose strength because they do not receive the required amount of nutrients.

Clinical features

The development of the disease leads to the fact that the gelatinous core dries out and partially loses its depreciation characteristics. The fibrous ring becomes thinner, microcracks are formed on it.

As a result, a protrusion occurs, called disc protrusion. As the disease progresses, ring rupture may occur and then an intervertebral hernia is diagnosed.

This area loses stability, osteophytes can form on it, the integrity of ligaments and joints is disturbed. To compensate for the deformation of the disc, bone and fibrous tissue grow. In this condition, the spine becomes less mobile.

Usually the disease has periods of remission, which are then replaced by relapses.

Degrees and stages

There are several stages of the disease, each of which has the following characteristics:

  • 1 degree. Imprecise movement causes the disc to rupture. This condition can also be caused by stress. Severe pain and an electric discharge-like sensation often occur.
  • 2nd degree. The stability of the spine is lost and protrusions develop. Pain can occur which is intensified by incorrect movements. This form of the disease is characterized by numbness of the fingers, headache, temporary discomfort in the sacrum.
  • 3 degrees. This condition manifests itself as a hernia, headache, discomfort in the area of the disturbed nerve. Also, hands and feet often become numb, eyesight and hearing deteriorate, and problems in the work of many organs occur.
  • 4 degrees.At this stage, the symptoms of the hernia disappear, and the manifestations of the disease are reduced. The spine loses stability, and this condition is characterized by slipping or twisting of the vertebrae. The vertebrae can grow, which causes compression of the nerves, as a result of which the spinal canal atrophies and the spinal cord is compressed. The fourth degree differs in the consequences that can occur after the removal of the hernia - this includes paresis, inflammation, etc.

It is also common to distinguish several stages:

  1. so,first phase- in fact, a consequence of lack of moisture and loss of elastic properties. The disease is characterized by displacement of the nucleus within the disc, which leads to a violation of the shape of the fibrous ring. However, the process itself remains within the intervertebral disc, not going beyond it.
  2. Forsecondsthe formation of cracks in the ring is characteristic. As the height of the flattened disc decreases, there is a loss of stability of the spine.
  3. The third phasecharacterized by the appearance of gaps at the site of cracks and the onset of inflammation. Part of the liquid core penetrates through microcracks. Nerves or blood vessels are often compressed at the site of the rupture.
  4. Fourth phaseaccompanied by dystrophic processes. The vertebrae do not provide the necessary resistance, because the adjacent vertebral bodies approach each other. Complications can also occur. This may be the development of spondyloarthritis and spondylosis. At this stage, flattening of the vertebrae is observed - this happens to eliminate the load on the disc. Sometimes fibrous tissue is replaced by bone. This phase is marked by a temporary reduction in pain. However, later the discomfort intensifies due to compression of the nerves and narrowing of the spinal canal.

Causes of disease

This disease can be found in both older and younger people. Signs of osteochondrosis usually appear at the age of about thirty-five. The development and recurrence of the disease cause overload, back injuries, vibrations. As the body ages, more and more symptoms occur. The exact causes of the disease have not yet been determined.

The most popular opinion is that the process is the result of improper load distribution on the spine due to muscle and ligament weakness. This theory is confirmed by popular methods of therapy, which are based on training the muscular apparatus and ligaments.

Factors that can cause an abnormal process in the spine include:

  • violation of posture;
  • excess weight;
  • trauma;
  • flat feet;
  • rachiocampsis;
  • metabolic disorders;
  • infections;
  • heredity;
  • poor physical fitness;
  • stress;
  • heavy loads;
  • hormonal imbalance;
  • irrational diet;
  • poor environmental conditions;
  • systematic vibrational impact;
  • age changes;
  • passive lifestyle;
  • hypothermia;
  • smoking;
  • spinal anomalies.

Even if a person leads a normal lifestyle, there is a risk of osteochondrosis due to lack of necessary substances. In modern society, this problem is considered one of the key ones. The condition is getting worse due to an inactive lifestyle.

Types and symptoms

Depending on the affected area, there is cervical, thoracic or lumbar osteochondrosis. If several departments are involved in the pathological process at once, we can talk about the usual form.

Since the lower back usually carries the greatest load, lumbar osteochondrosis predominates among all cases of the disease - its prevalence is about 50%.

In second place is the cervical region. This form of osteochondrosis is diagnosed in a quarter of cases. Such an illness is usually the result of prolonged sitting at a computer or monotonous work.

Osteochondrosis of the cervical and lumbar spine

Thoracic osteochondrosis is extremely rare and is usually associated with limited movement.

General signs of disease

Pathology has different signs that directly depend on the location of the process:

  1. Back pain. Sometimes osteochondrosis causes mild pain of a painful or traction nature. Also, the disease can cause acute, unbearable pain - difficult to eliminate with non-narcotic analgesics.
  2. Impairment of sight or hearing.
  3. Headache. Often the disease causes feelings of weakness, dizziness and fatigue.
  4. Loss of sensation. This symptom is usually manifested by numbness in the arms or legs.
  5. Pelvic problems and sexual dysfunction.
  6. Loss of mobility in the problem area.
  7. Problems with the organs for which the spinal cord is responsible.
  8. Pain in arms and legs.
  9. Muscle relaxation.

How cervical osteochondrosis manifests itself:

  • systemic headaches;
  • hearing loss;
  • dizziness;
  • pressure jumps;
  • voice change;
  • reduced vision;
  • snoring;
  • caries.

Breast symptoms:

  • high back muscle fatigue;
  • pain on palpation;
  • back and chest pain;
  • problems with various organs.

Manifestations of lumbar osteochondrosis:

  • lower back pain;
  • numbness of the legs;
  • reduction in skin temperature;
  • violation of urination;
  • muscle tension;
  • stool problems;
  • varicose veins;
  • loss of activity.


Osteochondrosis often causes complications, so this disease cannot be ignored. The consequences of the disease include:

  1. Lumbago - severe back pain.
  2. Intervertebral hernia.
  3. Protrusion.
  4. Radiculitis.
  5. Migraine attacks.
  6. Spondylosis.
  7. Sciatica is a pathology of the sciatic nerve that causes pain in the legs and buttocks.
  8. Narrowing of the spinal canal.
  9. Vegetative-vascular dystonia.
  10. Schmorl's hernia is a protrusion of the disc into the spinal cavity.

The most dangerous complication of osteochondrosis is considered to be the compression of the arteries that supply the brain. These stems supply the brain with blood. Due to nutritional deficiencies, more serious pathologies can develop.


Diagnosis is based on medical history and examination. It also requires an assessment of neurological status. Additional reviews include:

  • M. R. I;
  • Doppler ultrasound;
  • spondylography;
  • CT scanner.

Thanks to these studies, it is possible to determine the level of violations, clarify the diagnosis and discover hidden processes. This allows you to choose an effective treatment and achieve good results.

Methods of treatment

Timely treatment can stop the development of osteochondrosis

At an early stage, conservative therapy will be the best option. The doctor prescribes medication. Therapeutic exercises can also be used. Very useful manual therapy and reflexology.

Among drugs, non-narcotic analgesics and sedatives are considered the most effective. It is necessary to drink preparations with B vitamins. Usually, this treatment is used during the relapse of the disease in order to eliminate pain and inflammation.

Reflexology is the use of methods such as paraffin baths, laser therapy, acupuncture, electrical stimulation, ultrasound. No less useful mud baths and iodine therapy.

Physiotherapy exercises are aimed at strengthening the muscular apparatus and releasing nerve endings. In severe cases, it is impossible without surgery. If conservative treatment is ineffective, the hernia must be removed. This can be achieved by classical or microsurgical methods.

Osteochondrosis is a dangerous disease that causes pain and leads to loss of motor activity.

To stop the development of complications, at the slightest discomfort in the spine, you should consult a doctor. Only a specialist will be able to make the correct diagnosis and choose the therapy.