Many people after thirty have felt pain in the lumbar region at least once. By the age of sixty, this discomfort occurs in 80% of people. Almost always, the cause is lumbar osteochondrosis. This pathology provokes the development of unpleasant symptoms and can greatly worsen the quality of human life. In order to prevent the development of negative consequences, it is extremely important to consult a doctor on time.
Clinical characteristics of osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine
This disease is widespread, because it is the lower back that most often suffers under high loads. The lumbar region contains five vertebrae, in addition, it connects the sacrum to the thoracic region. The intervertebral discs, consisting of a nucleus pulposus, provide flexibility. These elements are localized within the annulus fibrosus.
Osteochondrosis provokes nutritional deficiencies in the discs. Because of this, they become less elastic. In addition, their height is reduced. A decrease in the distance between the vertebrae provokes an infringement of the nerve roots. As a result, tangible pain occurs in the lumbar region.
At the initial stage, the symptoms of osteochondrosis are insignificant and may even be completely absent. However, further progression of the disease leads to pain in the back and legs, and numbness may develop.
After the spread of changes, the possibility of fixing the spine decreases. Sometimes hernias and subluxations appear – these disorders are associated with pain. Subsequently, there may even be a rupture of the disc and pinching of the nerve endings.
With the subsequent development of the disease, vessels, ligaments, and the spinal cord begin to participate in the process. Bone growths may develop. At the last stage, paralysis and paresis develop. Sometimes the functioning of the pelvic organs is disrupted.
In young people, the disease progresses continuously. In old age, pathology may not manifest itself in any way, despite the presence of changes. If you do not start treating the disease in time, very dangerous consequences can develop.
Pathology is irreversible, and its symptoms are directly determined by the degree:
- First degree. During this period, pathological processes occur in the nucleus pulposus. There is discomfort associated with irritation of the nerve endings. They can be sharp or aching. When there are spasms of the large arteries of the thigh, blood circulation is disturbed, which is fraught with the appearance of pathologies of the arteries of the legs.
- Second degree. The destruction of the annulus fibrosus progresses. Due to the loss of stability, the vertebrae become too mobile. As a result, muscle tissue is strained too much. The patient develops high fatigue of the muscles of the lower back, a feeling of discomfort.
- Third degree. The annulus fibrosus breaks, which leads to the release of the contents of the nucleus pulposus. This process provokes the formation of a hernia. Radicular syndromes occur. Initially, the patient feels high sensitivity in the affected area, a burning sensation, tingling sensation, numbness. Sometimes sensitivity can completely disappear. In severe cases, paralysis and muscle atrophy develop.
- Fourth degree . The work of the vertebrae, the structure of the joints and ligaments is disrupted. Arthrosis of the joints develops. The pains may disappear, the supporting function of the spine is restored, but the amplitude in it decreases significantly. The fourth degree is characterized by a variety of symptoms of the disease.
More than a third of patients with such osteochondrosis have problems with the liver or digestive organs. In the presence of such deviations, tension and spasms of muscles and blood vessels occur, which provokes oxygen deficiency and the appearance of degenerative abnormalities. Metabolic disorders aggravate these processes.
The appearance of this form of osteochondrosis often becomes a consequence of congestion in the pelvic organs. They can be associated with constipation, colitis, hemorrhoids. In women, such problems are a consequence of inflammation of the appendages, and in men, prostatitis.
The causes of osteochondrosis also include the following:
- Lack of physical activity.
- Diseases of the joints.
- Digestive problems.
- Back injury.
- Pathology of the heart and blood vessels.
- Endocrine system diseases.
- Spine problems.
- Flat feet.
- Increased physical activity.
- Metabolic disorders.
- Age-related changes.
There are also risk factors that greatly increase the likelihood of developing lumbar osteochondrosis:
- poor nutrition;
- violation of posture;
- long stay in an uncomfortable position;
- chronic lack of sleep;
- frequent stress;
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Symptoms and signs
The disease manifests itself in the form of pain syndrome, and it can be of a different nature. Osteochondrosis is characterized by pulling, aching, cutting sensations. Discomfort can be felt not only in the leg, but also in the tailbone or lower chest.
In addition to pain, such violations occur:
- muscle tension;
- problems in the reproductive system;
- violation of the menstrual cycle in women;
- change in posture;
- asymmetry of the buttocks;
- loss of sensitivity;
- tingling and cold feet;
- loss of activity;
- emotional instability.
An exacerbation of osteochondrosis is usually the result of careless movement or high stress. Also, a relapse of the disease often occurs due to hypothermia. Sharp pains can be felt not only in the lower back – they often affect the lower extremities. With an exacerbation, a person tries to find a comfortable position in order to achieve the disappearance of pain.
Symptoms of lumbosacral osteochondrosis
Back pain is also inherent in this form of disorder. They can be felt in the lower back or in the leg near the sciatic nerve. The manifestations of the disease do not appear immediately, but approximately at the second stage of the development of the disease.
At first, they are felt with careless movements or loads. But over time, the pain is constantly present and has an aching character. Sometimes exacerbations occur when the discomfort becomes more pronounced. In advanced cases, pain occurs when sneezing, coughing, light exertion.
When the nerve endings are pinched, a radicular syndrome develops, which is characterized by the following manifestations:
- lumbago in the lower back;
- loss of limb sensitivity;
- tingling in the legs;
- weakening of tendon reflexes;
- violation of sweating;
- chilliness of the legs;
- muscle weakness.
As the disease progresses, the back loses its flexibility, and any changes in body position or load lead to intense pain. As a result, mobility is limited, a person experiences difficulties in flexion, muscle spasms.
If you ignore the symptoms of osteochondrosis, sooner or later the disease will lead to negative consequences. When the distance between the vertebrae decreases, the vessels become pinched, which leads to problems with the nutrition of the spinal cord.
As a result, pain, muscle weakness, and loss of reflexes appear. Bedwetting, fecal incontinence, and paralysis of the lower extremities may develop.
Another dangerous complication is a hernia. It also provokes severe pain and compression of the spinal cord. As a result, the legs can lose sensitivity, reflexes disappear. Sometimes the work of the organs of the reproductive and urinary system is disrupted. Digestive problems can also occur.
This form of osteochondrosis can provoke spinal instability. Under the influence of gravity, the lower back, as it were, slides off the sacrum. For women, this condition is fraught with problems with internal organs – ovaries, uterus, and appendages. In men, impotence may develop as a result of this disorder.
Lumbar osteochondrosis often provokes problems with blood circulation in the spinal cord. Compression myelopathy is another consequence . In connection with the narrowing of the spinal canal, problems with the spinal cord appear.
However, the most difficult condition is cauda equina syndrome, which is considered to be a consequence of nerve root disorders. In advanced situations, it can provoke paralysis and paresis of the limbs.
To diagnose osteochondrosis, the doctor examines the patient’s medical history and conducts a visual examination. General urine and blood tests are also done. With their help, you can exclude other serious diseases.
An important criterion is the assessment of the condition of the legs. It is important to determine the condition of the skin, blood vessels, muscle tone. Women are additionally referred for consultation with a gynecologist. Men need to be examined by a urologist.
The following types of diagnostics are required:
- CT scan;
- Magnetic resonance imaging.
How to treat
For the treatment of the disease, medication, physiotherapy and surgical techniques can be used . The main goal is to eliminate the manifestations of the disease and prevent its development.
Among the drugs used are anti-inflammatory and pain relievers. It is imperative to take vitamins of group B. To cope with psychogenic disorders, sedatives and anticonvulsants are used. During an exacerbation, novocaine blockade can be used .
Of the non-drug therapy, the most effective are therapeutic exercises, acupuncture, and massage. You can also do electrophoresis and phonophoresis . If conservative methods do not give results, an operation is performed.
Osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine is considered a rather dangerous pathology that can lead to extremely negative health consequences. To prevent this from happening, it is very important to see a doctor if any discomfort in the back appears.