Osteochondrosis – a disease that does not exist: a view from Russia and from abroad

If you ask any person in our country what he is ill with, then more than half of those over 40 will answer that they have osteochondrosis. Moreover, they will indicate some specific places in the lumbar, thoracic or cervical spine, where they periodically experience unpleasant sensations. This diagnosis is a kind of “dump”: they explain headaches, dizziness, palpitations and even a violation of potency. Any more or less medical-savvy person who is an active user of the Internet considers: this disease is chronic, incurable and arises from a hard life. However, modern doctors look at this diagnosis in a completely different way, some do not even consider it a disease requiring treatment. What is osteochondrosis in the understanding of ordinary people, Russian and foreign doctors, and how can you really explain the presence of back pain?

Back pain – the result of osteochondrosis?

Currently, the diagnosis of spinal osteochondrosis is present in the International Classification of Diseases of the 10th revision under the code M42, that is, it officially exists, but the understanding of the mechanism of its occurrence and treatment methods in Russia and European countries is completely different.

The term “osteochondrosis of the spine” appeared in Russian medical terminology in the middle of the last century. Under this concept, doctors meant the gradual development of dystrophic processes in intervertebral cartilage. They called him a payoff of modern man for upright walking. The mechanism of the disease is as follows: degenerative processes lead to inflammatory processes in cartilage, which gradually causes a decrease in their height. As a result, the roots of the nerves that move away from the spinal cord are clamped in the areas of the corresponding localization.Gradually, the inflammatory process moves to areas of the bones (vertebrae). On the one hand, everything seems logical, but in fact not quite.

Indeed, osteochondrosis is often called the osteoarthrosis analogue, which is an age-related disease of the joints. Moreover, the methods of treatment of these ailments are similar: the same groups of drugs are used. However, the main cause of osteoarthritis is that the degenerative processes in cartilage lead to a decrease in the production of joint fluid, absorbing the movement of the components of the joint. As a result, cartilage rub against each other, causing strong   pain, gradually thinning and the process moves to the heads of the articulated bones. With osteochondrosis of the spine, in the domestic sense, everything is not so simple.

How dystrophic changes in cartilage lead to bone damage remains incomprehensible to many, and if so severe inflammation actually occurred, it would affect both cartilage and bone, then pain and neurological complications would be very pronounced and accompanied disability. It is not difficult to guess that by themselves dystrophic changes in the cartilage tissue of intervertebral discs cannot cause   pain, because inside them there are no nerve endings. Pain always has another reason.

Herniated disc – a complication of osteochondrosis?

Many domestic recommendations state that a herniated disc is in most cases the result of osteochondrosis. And, nevertheless, modern experts say: these two processes are in no way connected. Most often, a hernia of an intervertebral disk appears suddenly, and against the background of complete well-being or in the presence of an active inflammatory process in cartilage tissue. After all, at the same time, the contents of the hernia must necessarily be the pulpous nucleus, and in the case when a destructive process is occurring in the cartilage, this cannot happen.

Therefore, far from any protrusion of cartilage, which can be seen on X-rays, is a herniated intervertebral disk. Indeed, with a true diagnosis, the patient almost never avoids surgical treatment.

Osteochondrosis in the understanding of foreign doctors

It will probably be very interesting for our readers to learn that there is no such term as spinal osteochondrosis in any foreign classification of degenerative-dystrophic diseases. This disease they call a completely different disease, which in Russia is interpreted as osteochondropathy. This is a really life-threatening disease, in which necrosis (necrosis) is formed in cartilage and bone tissue. It usually occurs in children or young people, as explained by genetic “breakdowns”. Moreover, localization can be quite diverse: areas of necrosis appear in any bones, and not only in the spine.The result of this is spontaneous pathological fractures under heavy load, for example, with abrupt vomiting, the ribs can be broken, with gymnastic exercise, the bones of the arms, and when falling on straight legs from a small height, a spinal compression fracture is obtained.

To treat this disease is difficult, because it does not manifest itself for a very long time. And then, when the first fractures appear, it turns out that there are areas of necrosis in most bones. And even with the timely detection of this pathology, it is difficult to help patients: after all, the reason lies in genetic peculiarities, and all drugs will be directed only at slowing down the process of necrotizing and preventing fractures. However, to avoid this will not work, and severe disability is a matter of time.

It turns out that in the understanding of Russian and foreign   doctors   these are completely different diseases in which the mechanism of occurrence, causes and methods of treatment are different. However, it is completely incomprehensible why domestic medicine is so diligently following the path it has chosen and this leads to misunderstanding between doctors of similar specialties in different countries.

What are the true causes of back pain?

Most modern competent neurologists say: no degenerative process in the cartilage tissue of intervertebral discs can lead to the infringement of the nerve roots. By itself, cartilage is also devoid of nerve endings. Thus, osteochondrosis in the domestic understanding of this diagnosis cannot be the cause of intense back pain.

However, it is this complaint that is one of the leading among those addressed by patients to doctors of various profiles. Some of the doctors in the end, not wanting to go into the subtleties of the problem, simply put this diagnosis because the patients themselves agree with him. However, it is often possible to find cases when under the mask of the so -called osteochondrosis turned out to be completely different diseases, sometimes not associated with the spine. For example, a sharp “backache” in the back is caused by a sprain. As a result, they reflexively contract and contract nearby nerves and muscles. Result: a person freezes in an inclined position without being able to straighten out due to severe pain.

Also, often pain in the back occurs after a long stay in a forced posture, in which the muscles of the waist are tense, after a physical load, are the result of muscle fatigue. Sometimes this condition is a symptom of another pathology: neoplasms of the vertebrae or metastases in them, Bechterew’s disease, tuberculosis, osteomyelitis, pathological fractures against the background of myeloma. In addition, do not forget that often back pain is a symptom of kidney damage, diseases of the aorta, gynecological and urological ailments, bowel disease.

Fortunately, the majority of modern literate neurologists, therapists and doctors of other specialties really seek to find out the true cause of this symptom, without blaming osteochondrosis, which in fact causes it extremely rarely.

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