Osteochondrosis does not cause pain, but at the same time pain with osteochondrosis is possible. A strange situation at first glance. But after reading this article, you will become a real expert not only on this topic, but also on the question: what is osteochondrosis? What are the reasons? What are the symptoms and signs? How to diagnose osteochondrosis? What effective treatment is there? What does the prevention of this disease involve? And also on many other topics.

What is Osteochondrosis?

To understand what osteochondrosis is, you need to delve a little into history. The term was introduced by Christian Georg Schmorl in 1928. But the strange thing is that Schmorl was a pathologist and, as you know, he had no one to ask: "Where does it hurt? ""(Sorry for the dark humor). During his studies on pathological material, Schmorl discovered previously unknown changes in the connection between bones and cartilage, especially in the area of the intervertebral discs. Once these changes had been described, all that was left to do was find a name for them. To do thishe took the Latin word "bone" / os and the Greek word "cartilage" / chondros and combined them and got the term osteochondrosis.

What is osteochondrosis, how exactly did Schmorl call this word? It turns out that this is not pain at all and generally not a sensation. Schmorl used the word osteochondrosis to describe the following three changes:

  • decreased height of the intervertebral disc;
  • subchondral sclerosis;
  • marginal bone growths.

Translated into everyday language, this means that the height of the intervertebral disc has decreased and the surface of the vertebra adjacent to the intervertebral disc has grown denser and edge-shaped. This is osteochondrosis in its original meaning, as formulated by Christian Georg Schmorl.

Osteochondrosis disease

Signs of osteochondrosis

Let us pay attention again that Schmorl did not describe the disease osteochondrosis, but only tissue changes, and these are different things. The term "disease" is much broader; it includes complaints, symptoms, laboratory and radiological changes, methods of treatment and prevention.

But Schmorl wrote nothing about this and generally did not consider osteochondrosis a disease. But why then is it customary to say that osteochondrosis is a disease, and to be interested in the causes of its occurrence, its signs, symptoms and treatment of osteochondrosis?

The fact is, however, that Schmorl had followers. So they decided to find out how osteochondrosis manifests itself and what symptoms bother a person. As a result, it was found that osteochondrosis itself does not cause direct pain and other sensations. This was explained by the fact that there are no pain receptors in the vertebrae and intervertebral discs. And since there are no receptors, there can be no pain. This can be easily understood using the example of hair and nails - there are no receptors or pain when cutting.

The second important discovery was that osteochondrosis is part of a general degenerative process that affects all of our organs and tissues. Dystrophy is a violation of tissue nutrition at the cellular level; it lasts a lifetime and causes our bodies to gradually age. That is, osteochondrosis is essentially part of the aging process. But as you know, details matter. And in more detail, not all degenerative processes are as painless as osteochondrosis. In particular, dystrophic pathologies of the muscles surrounding the spine are almost always associated with pain. After all, unlike vertebrae and intervertebral discs, muscles have pain receptors. A typical example is myofascial syndrome. It usually occurs parallel to osteochondrosis and is painful. Remember that at the beginning of the article we said that osteochondrosis itself does not cause pain, but pain is possible? So it is precisely these cases in which painless osteochondrosis - the same myofascial syndrome - is joined by painful pathology, which perfectly explains the meaning of what was said.

Types of osteochondrosis

You may ask, where is the answer to the question why it is customary to say that osteochondrosis is a disease? Well, actually we've already gotten to the point. The fact is that although osteochondrosis itself is not a disease, it is the starting point for research into degenerative processes. However, the word "osteochondrosis" has become so established in our language that over time it has become a colloquial, generalizing term for all diseases of the spine.

Causes of osteochondrosis

The reasons can be divided into external and internal.

The internal (endogenous) causes include the degenerative process discussed above. This also includes genetic predispositions as well as hormonal, mineral, vitamin, protein and other metabolic disorders, as a result of which bone and cartilage tissue are not supplied with the necessary nutrition. These are all so-called biological factors that can be influenced, but this is quite difficult and expensive. Nevertheless, there are simple and inexpensive ways that allow you to achieve no less convincing results by eliminating only external causes.

External (exogenous) reasons include a sedentary lifestyle, poor training of the spinal muscles, microtraumas of the back and spine, insufficient physical activity, the habit of lying down, "sedentary" work, constant stressful situations, lack of preventive examinations at the chiropractor and much more.

As you can see, external reasons are largely due to either our wrong actions, for example, low physical activity, or our inaction and neglect of our health, for example, ignoring prevention.

Agree that external causes are much easier to eliminate than internal ones. Of course, there are patients who cannot do without drug treatment for internal causes, but these are only a few. In most cases, it is enough to eliminate the external causes of osteochondrosis to achieve convincing results at lower costs. This requires a little self-discipline, basic physical activity, and regular visits to a chiropractor.

Symptoms and signs of osteochondrosis

The symptoms and signs are usually divided into those that develop within the spine itself and those that are extravertebral in nature.

Which symptoms of osteochondrosis do you think cause more problems? In fact, a lot here depends not only on the symptoms themselves, but also on other factors: the patient's age, weight, the presence of concomitant diseases, etc.

But let's return to the symptoms of vertebral osteochondrosis: as I said, they are vertebral, they are also called vertebral and extravertebral - extravertebral. Extravertebral symptoms, in turn, are also divided into two groups – reflex and radicular symptoms of osteochondrosis.

For the sake of simplicity, this classification of back problems can best be presented as follows:

  • Vertebrates/Vertebrae
  • Extravertebral/extravertebral: radicular symptoms and reflex symptoms

Spinal symptoms of osteochondrosis include curvature of the spine (not to be confused with scoliosis), local pain, muscle tension, and limited mobility.

Radicular symptoms occur due to impact on the nerves exiting the spine. This is manifested by reduced reflexes, muscle weakness, sensory disturbances and radicular pain.

And here it is necessary to explain that all our vertebrae, intervertebral discs and "roots" have a specific designation. Therefore, we can talk about radicular symptoms only when all these symptoms and signs clearly indicate a specific "root", and not whenPain "from the bulldozer" can be described as radicular.

Very rare but dangerous signs and symptoms of osteochondrosis are paresis, paralysis and disorders of the pelvic organs. They indicate the development of a spinal stroke. This is a serious complication of osteochondrosis in which the root arteries are affected.

Stages of osteochondrosis

Reflex symptoms primarily depend on which part of the spine is affected. According to statistics, the cervical spine is most often affected.

The essence of cervical osteochondrosis is a variety of reflex symptoms. Pain in the neck, back of the head and collar area. Crunching of the vertebrae, muscle tension and difficulty moving. Headache. Dizziness. Intracranial pressure. morning stiffness. Numbness, tingling, goosebumps and weakness in the arms. Pain in the shoulders and under the shoulder blade. Burning between the shoulder blades and in the area of the heart (reminiscent of angina pectoris). Numbness of the hands or fingers. "Lumps" in the area of the seventh cervical vertebra. Temporary darkening or "floaters" in the eyes. Noise or ringing in the ears. Nausea, even vomiting. Pressure surges. State before fainting. A lump in the throat with osteochondrosis, weakening of the voice, hoarseness, a feeling of lack of air, problems swallowing and a sore throat with osteochondrosis - all of these are quite common reflex symptoms. You may also experience difficulty sleeping, frequent insomnia, and feeling tired in the morning. General weakness. Irritability. Rapid fatigability.

As you can see, the symptoms and signs of the disease in osteochondrosis are very diverse. This is especially true for reflex symptoms.

Diagnosis of osteochondrosis

Diagnosis is the key to proper treatment. Modern hardware diagnostic methods allow accurate confirmation of this diagnosis. As you know, MRI and CT are considered the most accurate examinations. However, the main factor in making the diagnosis remains the clinical diagnosis. An experienced doctor compares data from at least three sources: the patient's complaints, the MRI results and the symptoms identified during the examination.

This diagnostic approach allows you to make an accurate diagnosis and develop an individual program for effective treatment.

healthy and sick spine

Effective treatment of osteochondrosis

Effective treatment of osteochondrosis is possible only with strict adherence to a scientific approach. This means that when choosing the main and auxiliary types of treatment of vertebral osteochondrosis, correct prioritization is required first of all.

What do you think is the most important treatment? You don't have to be a doctor to answer this question. You can just follow the logic. Osteochondrosis is a pathology of the musculoskeletal system. This system is biomechanical in nature. The key word is "mechanical". Consequently, mechanical disorders require the same - mechanical - treatment methods. Therefore, manual therapy is the main type of treatment for osteochondrosis. It is excellent for restoring the biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system. Auxiliary methods include medication, physiotherapy, massage, exercise therapyetc. And it is also important to know that among all types of manual treatment, gentle manual therapy is the safest. It is superior to traditional manual therapy in its effectiveness, gentleness and safety. To understand what the treatment of osteochondrosis is byinvolves a chiropractor, you must know that the intervertebral discs are the only part of the body that does not have blood vessels and is nourished thanks to the proper functioning of the spinal muscles. Dysfunction of these muscles immediately affects the nutrition of the intervertebral discs. And as we said at the beginning of the articlesaid, malnutrition is the degenerative process that osteochondrosis is a part of.

Effective treatment with gentle manual therapy is fundamentally different from traditional manual therapy. This is not at all a "vertebral realignment", as some think, but something completely different. Gentle manual therapy is a whole system of special influence methods that eliminate muscle spasms and tension. Return the muscles to their normal physiology and improvethe nutrition of the intervertebral discs.

Medical observation includes three phases:

  1. Advice. The doctor finds out what symptoms worry the patient, clarifies the medical history, studies the patient's medical records, analyzes images and determines the type of disease.
  2. Diagnosis. Conducts a thorough examination and clinical examination of the patient: visual and myofascial diagnostics; Palpating tense muscles and painful vertebrae; neurological reflex tests and muscle tests.
  3. Treatment plan. Based on the patient's current medical history, examination data and the results of a clinical examination, the doctor makes a diagnosis and selects treatment options. The doctor informs the patient in detail about the nature of the disease and the principles of treatment and answers all the patient's questions.

Prevention of osteochondrosis

Prevention is necessary to avoid relapses. To do this, you need to create comfortable working and rest conditions. Stay physically active. Avoid overworking. Maintain proper nutrition and weight. But the main thing is not to neglect your health.

Remember that prevention is, first of all, medical supervision and timely correction of the musculoskeletal system. Try to see a chiropractor at least every three to six months. This reduces risk factors and eliminates any violations in a timely manner. Advanced osteochondrosis leads to complications – bulges and herniated discs. Do not forget that. Take care of yourself!