Often, pain in the neck by the end of the working day is due to the presence of osteochondrosis. This term is called the degenerative-dystrophic process of a progressive nature, involving vertebral bodies and intervertebral discs. In addition, the provocateurs of pain can be neighboring tissues involved in the process – these are ligaments, muscles, and squeezed nerve roots. Often, problems of the cervical vertebrae are noted in people who are engaged mainly in sedentary work. Lack of exercise, muscle tension in a forced posture, provoke pathological changes. A violation of blood flow in the paravertebral arteries leads to a provocation of headache, bouts of dizziness. Intervertebral hernia can be a complication of osteochondrosis, against the background of which the symptoms are aggravated, motor and sensory disorders are possible.
Where the pain in the neck: the essence of change
To understand the mechanism of pain in the neck, typical of osteochondrosis, you need to know the changes that occur in the area of the cervical vertebrae. Usually, the region from the first to the seventh vertebrae is affected with intervertebral disc involvement. Initially, the disks are deformed, they are dehydrated, thinned, the lesion joins and the bodies of the vertebrae themselves. There is a reflex muscle spasm, which leads to a narrowing of the paravertebral arteries, irritation of the nerve roots, which depart from the corresponding segments of the spinal cord. It causes discomfort either pain in the neck, provokes a violation of sensitivity, numbness. The lesion is possible as an isolated, or combined with similar changes in the thoracic or lumbar regions. The process can be uncomplicated, or radicular syndromes join, arteries that nourish the brain suffer, due to which the manifestations become more severe.
The causes and role of physical activity
The final reasons for the formation of osteochondrosis are not yet clear, since these are completely non-senile changes, as previously thought. Typical changes can be detected even in children. Among the predisposing factors stands out mobility and lack of exercise. A relatively heavy head puts enough pressure on the spine to maintain its correct position. In addition to a specific location of the vertebrae, you also need a muscular corset that supports posture. Exercise allows you to maintain muscle tone. Therefore, the problems of the neck and back are those people whose physical activity is uneven or limited. These are drivers of transport, porters, people, many working sitting at the table, the elderly. The presence of excess weight affects, this is an additional load on the spine, and it accelerates the dystrophy and degenerative changes of the bone and cartilage elements.
A role is played by connective tissue dysplasia, circulatory disorders in the cervical region, serious injuries from accidents or sports, defects in posture, the presence of scoliosis and hereditary predisposition, as well as problems with metabolism and bad habits.
Common symptoms: headache, discomfort
The cervical spine is the most vulnerable of all the other spinal sections, which is connected with the vertical position when walking and the pressure of the head, which is large relative to the body. At the same time, the size of the cervical vertebrae is the smallest in comparison with all the others, and there are not so many muscle fibers supporting this zone of the spine. Initial symptoms are non-specific. This pain in the back of the neck in the late afternoon, painful sensation or aching headache, located mainly in the neck. Against the background of pain, there may be a tingling sensation in the shoulders or arms, a crunching of the neck when the head rotates, clicks in the projection of the vertebrae. As it progresses pain in the neck becomes more frequent, intervertebral discs gradually flatten, they are deformed, which threatens with compression of arteries or nerve trunks.
Blood flow in the arteries, problems with the nerve roots
In addition to the vertebrae themselves with their discs, the process can affect the nerve roots or the walls of the arteries located near the affected area. This forms radicular syndromes or pronounced ischemic manifestations, especially critical for the brain. On each side, an artery runs along the spinal column. blood to the brain. Deformations occurring in the cervical region during the development of osteochondrosis can affect it, because of which the artery spasms or is compressed from the outside, the volume of blood delivered through it decreases, the brain suffers from hypoxia, and headache is provoked. Both arteries and both arteries can be affected, due to which the severity of the ischemic syndrome varies greatly.
There is also a difference of manifestations associated with the involvement of the roots of a specific cervical vertebra:
- If the vertebra C1 is afflicted (as the first cervical one is meant), the skin sensitivity of the occipital region decreases, and the defeat of C2 leads to pain localized on the crown or occiput.
- Defeat at the C3 level forms pain in the neck, it is one-sided, accompanied by a decrease in sensitivity over the surface of the tongue (taste, temperature), accompanied by speech disorders.
- Involvement of C4-C5 forms pain in the shoulder and clavicular region, muscle tone in the neck is lowered, pain in the heart, hiccups and breathing disorders are likely.
- The most frequent option: C6 lesion is pain in the scapular region and on the forearm, numbness of the fingers, change in skin sensitivity. In the same zone, protrusions and disc herniation are most frequent .
- Changes in the C7 region give similar sensations: pain in the neck, along the back of the shoulder, extending to the rear of the hand. There is a decrease in reflexes, a decrease in the muscle strength of the arms.
Dangerous complications: hernia, cervical migraine
The most frequent and dangerous complication of osteochondrosis is disc protrusion and hernia. These are consistent changes that lead to serious problems. Hernia formation leads to compression of the nerve roots or blood vessels, and if it is the spinal cord, it threatens life-threatening paralysis. With the defeat of the roots, there are radiculopathy with loss of sensory or motor functions, a pronounced pain syndrome.
Clamping the blood vessels, leading to a sharp breakdown of blood circulation due to protrusion or a herniated disc, provokes headaches accompanied by dizziness and visual disturbances, flickering points before eyes with a ringing, buzzing in the ears. Vegetative dysfunctions can join – sweating, hot flushes, nausea. There may be pain in the projection of the heart, pressing or stabbing, heart attacks, lack of air with shortness of breath.