Osteochondrosis: symptoms, causes, treatment, prevention
Translated from the Greek, the word "chondrosis" can be translated as "cartilage". As a rule, however, the word "osteochondrosis" does not mean damage to the cartilage tissue (which would be logical), only diseases of the cartilage of the spine.
In patients with osteochondrosis, the structure (and thus the function) of the intervertebral discs - special cartilage structures that ensure the mobility and flexibility of the human spine - is disturbed.
As the disease progresses, irreversible changes also appear and develop in the vertebrae themselves.
Causes of osteochondrosis
All the reasons why a person develops a disease like osteochondrosis, experts divide into endogenous (or internal) and exogenous (or external).
Endogenous (internal) causes are developmental disorders of the spine that occurred in humans in the womb, as well as age-related changes in cartilage tissue and a hereditary predisposition to osteochondrosis.
According to experts, the main exogenous (external) cause is the incorrect distribution of the load on the spine. It is this distribution that causes the changes that occur with the cartilage tissue in the places where the greatest overpressure drops.
In addition, injuries to the spine and various infections, bent and incorrect posture, weakness of the back muscles and lateral (S-shaped) curvature of the spine become the causes of osteochondrosis. In addition, pulling heavy weights or prolonged uncomfortable or unnatural postures can have negative consequences for the spine.
Contrary to popular belief, not only those with intellectual work and those who do not monitor their posture can suffer (and suffer) from osteochondrosis. This disease also torments those who are well prepared physically. For example movers, drivers and professional athletes.
In addition to the reasons for a purely mechanical property, metabolic problems (mainly calcium and phosphorus), as well as a lack of trace elements and vitamins (especially magnesium, manganese, zinc and vitamin D) can lead to the appearance and development of osteochondrosis. Many doctors are certain that the congenital predisposition to osteochondrosis also plays an important role in the onset of the disease.
What happens to osteochondrosis?
When a person rolls, jumps or falls weights, often sits in an uncomfortable position, etc. , the intervertebral discs get microtrauma. If, over time, such injuries occur more or less frequently, the intervertebral discs lose their elasticity and become flattened, and at the same time the distance between the vertebrae decreases. As a result, the nerve roots extending from the spinal cord become pinched. This is what causes back pain. At the same time, edema is formed in the place where the neurovascular bundle was pinched - as a result, the load on the same bundle increases, and pain increases.
If the destruction of the intervertebral disc has already started, it no longer acts as a shock absorber and suffers more and more injuries. Over time, the human spine loses its natural flexibility.
How is osteochondrosis manifested?
The main manifestation of osteochondrosis is back pain. Whichever type of intervertebral disc is damaged, the patient feels different pain. He can have pain not only in his back, but also in his neck and maybe in his arm or heart as well. Sometimes osteochondrosis even causes chest pain. A person can easily decide that something is wrong with their heart, but in fact the osteochondrosis has trapped one of the nerves. In addition to the pain, a person often experiences numbness and muscle strain. Headache, nausea, vomiting, tinnitus, dizziness, double vision, and fainting can all indicate that the blood vessels that carry the brain to the brain are compressed.
Diagnosis of osteochondrosis
If you have any of the symptoms described above, this is a reason to seek advice from a traumatologist or neurologist. One of these specialists will examine the spine and brain circulation. If the doctor deems it necessary, they can send you for an x-ray or order a computed or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the area of your spine.
Treatment of osteochondrosis
Get ready to spend a lot of time treating osteochondrosis. You also need your willpower. There are many ways to deal with osteochondrosis. These are medical methods, traction, massage, therapeutic gymnastics, and acupuncture. In addition, chiropractors have their own methods - in some cases they are highly efficient. Traditional medicine is also rich in ideas and offers the opportunity to treat osteochondrosis with the help of bee venom, cupping massage, and many other miraculous methods. Unfortunately, if osteochondrosis has a complication in the form of a herniated disc, then one can not do without surgical intervention - surgery is required.
Prevention of osteochondrosis
This is what medical specialists usually recommend to prevent sciatica and osteochondrosis:
- Correct spinal curvatures and posture disorders in good time. It is particularly worthwhile for parents of school children to pay attention to this point.
- Play sports and exercise regularly. The so-called muscle corset is created through athletic stress. Muscles are far more effective at maintaining your posture than standing up against a tree and sitting with your back straight. In addition, your own muscles protect the spine even if you forget about them.
- Try to eat right, stick to your diet. Look for foods high in vitamins, calcium, and magnesium in your diet (they are high in fish and other seafood, spinach, kale, nuts and seeds, beans and peas, fresh milk, and whole wheat bread).
- Avoid being overweight. Extra pounds are an unnecessary burden on your spine.
- When carrying weights, distribute the load as evenly as possible between both hands. If possible, use backpacks rather than bags. If you have to lift something very heavy - lean on your feet, not your spine, and watch weight lifters do it.