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

What is osteochondrosis?

To understand what osteochondrosis is, you need to dive a little into history. This term was introduced in 1928 by Christian Georg Schmorl. But the interesting thing is that Schmorl was a pathologist and, as you understand, there was no one to ask him: "Where does it hurt? " (sorry for the black humor). Schmorl discovered previously unknown changes in the junction of bone and cartilage, especially in the area of the spinal discs, during the study of pathological material. Once these changes were described, all that remained was to find a name for them. To do this, he took the Latin "bone" / os and the Greek "cartilage" / chondros and combined them to get the term osteochondrosis.

What is osteochondrosis, what exactly did Schmorl call this word? It turns out that it is not pain at all and not a sensation at all. With the word osteochondrosis, Schmorl defined the following three changes:

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

In layman's terms, this means that the disc has decreased in height and the surface of the vertebra adjacent to the disc has become more compact and annular. This is osteochondrosis in the original sense given by Christian Georg Schmorl.

Osteochondrosis disease

symptoms of osteochondrosis

Let's note again that Schmorl's disease described only tissue changes, not osteochondrosis, and these are different things. The concept of "disease" is broader and includes complaints, symptoms, laboratory and radiological changes, treatment and prevention methods.

But Schmorl did not write about such a thing and did not consider osteochondrosis a disease in general. But why is it customary to say that osteochondrosis is a disease, to be interested in its causes, signs, symptoms and treatment of osteochondrosis?

But the fact is that Schmorl had followers. So, they decided to find out how osteochondrosis manifests itself and what symptoms bother a person? As a result, it became clear that osteochondrosis itself does not directly cause pain, as well as other sensations. This was explained by the absence of pain receptors in the vertebrae and discs. Since there are no receptors, there can be no pain. This is easy to understand using the example of hair and nails - there are no receptors or pain when they are cut.

The second important discovery was that osteochondrosis is part of a general degenerative process that affects all our organs and tissues. Dystrophy is a disorder of tissue nutrition at the cellular level, which continues throughout life and gradually ages our body. That is, osteochondrosis is essentially part of the aging process. But as you know, details matter. And the details are that not all degenerative processes are painless like osteochondrosis. In particular, dystrophic pathology of the muscles surrounding the spine is almost always associated with pain. After all, muscles, unlike vertebrae and discs, have pain receptors. A typical example is myofascial syndrome. It usually occurs in parallel with osteochondrosis and is painful. Now remember, at the beginning of the article, we said that osteochondrosis itself does not cause pain, but is pain possible? So, precisely these cases perfectly explain the meaning of what is said, when painful pathology is added to painless osteochondrosis - the same myofascial syndrome.

types of osteochondrosis

You may ask, where is the answer to the question, why is it customary to say that osteochondrosis is a disease? In fact, we are already close to it. The point is that although osteochondrosis itself is not actually a disease, but a starting point in the study of degenerative processes, the word "osteochondrosis" has become so rooted in our language that over time it has become a slang generic name for all diseases of the spine.

Causes of osteochondrosis

The reasons can be divided into external and internal.

Internal (endogenous) causes include, first of all, the degenerative process we mentioned above. It also includes genetic predisposition, as well as hormonal, mineral, vitamin, protein and other metabolic disorders, as a result of which the bone and cartilage tissue does not receive proper nutrition. All these are so-called biological factors, of course, they can be influenced, but it is quite difficult and expensive to do so. However, there are simple and inexpensive ways to achieve less convincing results by only eliminating external causes.

External (exogenous) causes are considered to be a sedentary lifestyle, poor training of the muscles of the spinal corset, microtraumas of the back and spine, insufficient physical activity, the habit of bending, "sedentary" work, constant stressful situations, lack of preventive visits. a chiropractor and more.

As you can see, external causes are mainly due to our wrong actions, for example, low physical activity, or our inactivity and neglect of our health, for example, neglecting prevention.

Agree, it is easier to eliminate external causes than internal ones. Of course, there are patients who cannot do without drug treatment for internal reasons, but there are only a few of them. In most cases, it is enough to get rid of the external causes of osteochondrosis to get convincing results at a lower cost. This will require some discipline, basic physical activity and periodic visits to chiropractic.

Symptoms and signs of osteochondrosis

Symptoms and signs are generally divided into those that develop in 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: age, weight, the presence of concomitant diseases in the patient, etc.

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

For simplicity, this classification of back symptoms is best represented as follows:

  • Vertebrates/invertebrates
  • 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 impaired mobility.

Radicular symptoms occur due to effects on the nerves exiting the spine. It is manifested by decreased reflexes, muscle weakness, sensitivity and radicular pain.

And here it is necessary to explain that all our spines, discs and "roots" have a specific purpose. Therefore, we can talk about radicular symptoms only when all these symptoms and signs clearly indicate a certain "root", and not when any pain from a "bulldozer" is called radicular.

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

stages of osteochondrosis

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

The essence of cervical osteochondrosis is a large number of reflex symptoms. Pain in the neck, back of the head and collarbone. Vertebral creaking, muscle tension and difficulty moving. Headache. Dizziness. Intracranial pressure. Morning stiffness. Numbness in the hands, pins and needles, gas and weakness. Pain in the shoulders and under the shoulder blade. Burning between the shoulder blades and in the region of the heart (reminiscent of angina). Numbness of hands or fingers. A "lump" in the region of the seventh cervical vertebra. Temporary darkening or "floaters" in the eyes. Noise or ringing in the ears. Nausea, even vomiting. Pressure waves. The condition before fainting. A swelling in the throat with osteochondrosis, weakening of the voice, hoarseness, a feeling of lack of air, swallowing problems and sore throat with osteochondrosis - all these are quite common reflex symptoms. There may also be sleep disturbances, frequent insomnia, and a feeling of tiredness in the mornings. General weakness. Irritation. Fatigue quickly.

As you can see, the symptoms and signs of the disease with 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 make it possible to accurately confirm this diagnosis. As you know, MRI and CT are considered the most accurate examinations. However, as before, the main factor in making the diagnosis remains the clinical diagnosis. It happens when an experienced doctor compares data from at least three sources: the patient's complaints, MRI results, and symptoms identified during the examination.

This approach to diagnostics makes it possible to make an accurate diagnosis and develop an individual program of effective treatment.

healthy and diseased spine

Effective treatment of osteochondrosis

Effective treatment of osteochondrosis is possible only by strictly following a scientific approach. This means that in choosing the main and auxiliary treatment types for vertebral osteochondrosis, first of all, correct prioritization is necessary.

What do you think is the most important treatment? You don't need 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". As a result, mechanical disorders require the same - mechanical - treatment methods. Therefore, the main type of treatment for osteochondrosis is manual therapy. Ideal for restoring the biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system. And auxiliary methods include drugs, physiotherapy, massage, exercise therapy, etc. It is superior to traditional hand therapy in terms of effectiveness, gentleness and safety. To understand what the treatment of osteochondrosis by a chiropractor is, you need to know that the intervertebral discs are the only part of the body that does not have blood vessels and is nourished by the proper functioning of the spinal muscles. Failure in the action of these muscles immediately disrupts the nutrition of the discs. As we said at the beginning of the article, nutritional deficiency is a very degenerative process in which osteochondrosis is a part.

Effective treatment with gentle hand therapy is fundamentally different from traditional hand therapy. This is not a "vertebral adjustment" at all, as some people think - it is something completely different. Gentle hand therapy is a whole system of special effect methods that relieve muscle spasms and tension. Return the muscles to their normal physiology and improve the nutrition of the discs.

Observation by a doctor consists of three stages:

  1. Consultation. The doctor learns what symptoms are bothering the patient, clarifies the medical history, studies the patient's medical documents, analyzes the images and determines the nature of the disease.
  2. Diagnostics. Conducts a comprehensive examination and clinical examination of the patient: visual and myofascial diagnostics; palpation of tense muscles and painful vertebrae; neurological reflex test and muscle test.
  3. Treatment plan. Based on the history of the current disease, examination data, as well as the results of the patient's clinical examination, the doctor diagnoses and selects treatment options. The doctor provides the patient with detailed information 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 prevent relapses. For this, it is necessary to create comfortable conditions for work and rest. Maintain physical activity. Avoid overwork. Maintain proper nutrition and weight control. But the main thing is not to neglect your health.

Remember, prevention is, first of all, medical supervision and timely correction of the musculoskeletal system. Try to visit a chiropractor at least once every three to six months. This will reduce risk factors and eliminate any violations in time. Advanced osteochondrosis leads to complications - protrusions and disc tears. Do not forget. Took care of yourself!