Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is one of the most common diseases of the spine, which can be explained by the great mobility of this part of the body. As the disease progresses, severe pain occurs, which significantly impairs the quality of human life. That is why it is so important to consult a doctor at the first manifestations of pathology.
Clinic for osteochondrosis of the cervical spine
The disorder is progressive and consists in the appearance of degenerative changes in the discs of the spine. There are seven vertebrae in this place, which provide free movement of the head. Due to increased physical exertion or insufficiently strong muscles, this part of the spine is often subjected to such a violation.
With the development of the disease, metabolic processes in the spine are disrupted, the strength and elasticity of the intervertebral disc disappears, and increased loads lead to cracks in the annulus fibrosus. As the process develops, a protrusion or hernia appears .
Degrees of development
- First degree. The disease provokes few symptoms. A person feels slight pain in the neck, which increases when turning the head. During the examination, the doctor may detect slight muscle tension.
- Second degree. This form is characterized by tangible pain, and they can be given to the arm or shoulder. This is due to a violation of the height of the disc, which provokes pinching of the nerves. The pain syndrome becomes stronger with head movements. This condition is characterized by headaches, increased weakness, and decreased ability to work.
- Third degree. The manifestations of the anomaly intensify many times over, and the pain is constantly present. They can be felt not only in the neck itself, but also affect the shoulder or arm. Hernia formation leads to weakness or numbness in the hands. The person complains of chronic fatigue and dizziness. On examination, the doctor may find a violation of the mobility of the neck. In addition, the patient has pain on palpation.
- Fourth degree. At this stage, the intervertebral disc is completely destroyed, which leads to the formation of connective tissue in its place. Also, the patient’s dizziness increases significantly, coordination of movements is impaired and tinnitus occurs. Such symptoms are a consequence of the involvement of the vertebral artery in the pathological process – it is she who is responsible for the nutrition of the cerebellum and part of the brain.
Under the influence of various factors, the load on the cervical spine increases. The muscles try to compensate for this process, which provokes spasms and circulatory problems. Because of this, degenerative processes occur.
The main causes of the disease are as follows:
- lack of physical activity;
- metabolic disorder;
- improper posture;
- excess weight;
- systematic muscle tension;
- stressful situations;
- dysplastic abnormalities of connective tissue;
- circulatory problems in the neck area;
- uncontrolled physical activity;
- spine abnormalities.
Contrary to popular belief, osteochondrosis can be detected not only in elderly people. Today, such a violation is not uncommon, even among children and adolescents. In addition, the number of cases of the disease in people 18-30 years old increases significantly.
Symptoms and signs of the disease
Certain symptoms of osteochondrosis are present in almost every person. If they are associated with severe pain, you should immediately consult a doctor. Signs of pathology include:
- Neck pain. They can radiate to the back of the head, shoulder, eyes, or ears. Quite often, they are felt during movement. Sometimes there are pains of a pulsating nature.
- Pain in the arms. Discomfort can also be felt in the area of the shoulder, hand, forearm, and it persists even at night.
- Impaired hand and finger activity. A person can lose sensitivity and muscle strength.
- Muscle tension in the morning.
- Noise in ears.
- Headaches. As a rule, they begin to be felt in the back of the head, and then are felt in the temples and crown.
- Numbness and tingling in the limbs.
- Fainting, dizziness, darkening of the eyes. Such signs most often appear with careless head movements.
- Numbness of the tongue.
- Hearing and vision impairment.
- Pain in the region of the heart.
- An increase in the size of the connective tissue in the neck.
- Sleep, memory, attention disorders.
- Voice changes – appearance of hoarseness, weakening of the voice, etc.
Symptoms of cervicothoracic osteochondrosis
Violations of this spine are characterized by the following manifestations:
- systematic headaches;
- intercostal neuralgia;
- pressure drops;
- loss of coordination of movements;
- chronic fatigue;
- infectious pathologies;
- flickering points in front of the eyes;
- noise in ears;
- numbness of the fingers;
- pain in the arms and shoulders.
This form of osteochondrosis provokes many syndromes and can lead to problems in the functioning of certain organs.
For example, this pathology often provokes heart disease. Therefore, if these symptoms occur, you should immediately consult a doctor.
See also: Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine – symptoms and treatment.
In addition to the general manifestations, a number of syndromes are characteristic of cervical osteochondrosis. Thanks to these signs, it is possible to make an accurate diagnosis and select a therapy.
This condition is also often referred to as cervical sciatica. Radicular syndrome is the result of pinched nerves in the neck. As this process progresses, the pain spreads downward, reaching the shoulder blades. They can affect the forearms and fingers. Sometimes patients complain of goosebumps and tingling sensations.
The manifestations of the violation are determined by the location of the pathology. So, when the roots of the central nerve are pinched, swelling occurs, which affects the thumb, middle and index fingers. If the roots of the brachial nerve are affected, the process touches the little finger and ring finger.
This condition is characterized by severe pain that is localized in the neck or back of the head. Discomfort often increases with sudden movement. An example of such a condition is pain after sleep, when the patient turns his head sharply. Discomfort can also be felt in the chest or shoulder.
Vertebral artery syndrome
The main symptom is considered to be headaches, which are throbbing or burning. They often spread to the back of the head, darkness, temples. Also, discomfort is often felt over the eyebrows. The pain syndrome increases after a long movement. Also, the discomfort increases after being in an uncomfortable position. With a decrease in immunity, nausea occurs, fainting, hearing problems, and disturbances in the functioning of the vestibular apparatus are possible. Also , vertebral artery syndrome often provokes vision problems. Pain in the eyes may appear.
First of all, symptoms of angina pectoris appear. That is why there is a threat of unpromising treatment of angina pectoris instead of eliminating the main cause of discomfort.
The development of cardiac syndrome is triggered by pinching of the roots of the phrenic nerve or pectoral muscles. Paroxysmal pain may appear, which is felt for a long time. In addition, discomfort increases with sneezing, coughing, and inaccurate head movements.
This syndrome is accompanied by tachycardia and extrasystole. In such a situation, pain does not decrease even after the use of coronary dilators . If a cardiogram is done during an attack, it will show no symptoms of circulatory problems.
Complications and consequences
The most dangerous complications include:
- Protrusion of the discs, which provokes the formation of a hernia.
- Rupture of the disc with pinching of nerves and blood vessels. In this condition, the spinal cord can be compressed, which is very life-threatening.
- Radiculopathy is a disorder of the nerve roots.
- The formation of osteophytes – the so-called spines on the vertebrae. As a result, paresis and paralysis often occur.
Dupuytren’s contracture can be a dangerous complication of this form of osteochondrosis .
In this case, the human tendons lose their ability to stretch. As a result, the fingers become deformed and cannot function properly.
To diagnose a violation, you need to see a neurologist. The specialist will prescribe the following types of research:
- CT scan;
- Magnetic resonance imaging.
Doppler ultrasound may be performed to assess the condition of the cervical vessels. In case of problems with blood circulation, rheoencephalography should be performed . You should also contact your optometrist who will perform a fundus examination.
How to treat
To get the desired results, the treatment must be comprehensive. For this, medication and non- medication techniques are used. Doctors often prescribe medications to help relieve pain and inflammation.
It is imperative to take funds to normalize cerebral circulation. If the pathology causes muscle tension, you need to take relaxing drugs. In addition, vitamin complexes are very useful .
The effects of physical therapy play an important role in the treatment of the disease . Paraffin baths and electrophoresis are especially useful . Also, water procedures, hirudotherapy, massage, acupuncture, and magnetotherapy are often prescribed . However, the most effective method of treatment is medical gymnastics. In especially difficult situations, surgical intervention cannot be avoided.
Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine belongs to the category of quite dangerous disorders, because it not only causes pain, but can also lead to the development of serious consequences. To avoid complications, you need to seek medical help if you experience any discomfort in the neck area.