Osteochondrosis is a concept used to denote a group of diseases associated with degenerative and dystrophic changes in the structure of the spine. First of all, the intervertebral discs suffer, and with the development of the disease, the vertebrae themselves. Degenerative changes are associated with the processes of tissue wear, aging, loss of original properties and dystrophic - changes caused by disorders of tissue nutrition. Thus, the term osteochondrosis unites most pathologies of the spine of a non-inflammatory nature.

osteochondritis of the spine

The spine forms the backbone of the skeleton, connecting different parts of the skeletal system. It supports the head, ribs and muscles are attached to it. The spinal cord passes through the spinal column, through which the brain is connected to various parts of our body. Man is the only bipedal creature in the world, and the spine is designed to provide bipedal movement. Therefore, the spinal column has a curved shape, reminiscent of the letter S of the Latin alphabet and is not a rigid bar, but a complex structure consisting of elements fastened together - the vertebrae. This structure of the spine allows us a variety of movements, flexibility and absorption of shock and shock. The function of the shock absorber is performed by the intervertebral discs - cartilaginous layers that consist of the nucleus pulposus and the annular fiber that surrounds it. The nucleus takes the load and absorbs it, and the annular fibrosus prevents the nucleus from flattening under pressure.

Decreased elasticity of intervertebral discs can be the beginning of a wide range of problems. Not withstanding the load, the intervertebral discs begin to deform, the spine loses its correct shape. The progression of the disease leads to further destruction of the intervertebral discs, the fibrous ring ruptures, the vertebrae come into heavy contact with each other, it becomes possible to tighten the nerves that connect the spinal cord to various parts of the body. Thus osteochondrosis developed. Intervertebral hernias occur and inflammation often develops. Deprived of shock absorption, the vertebrae can be straightened, and their joints together form cicatricial and bony outgrowths.

Osteochondrosis is one of the most common diseases. Only cardiovascular diseases are more common. According to some estimates, every second inhabitant of the planet suffers from osteochondrosis. Osteochondrosis is more common in women, but in men its manifestations are on average more painful.

types of osteochondrosis

What is osteochondrosis

Osteochondrosis affects different parts of the spine. Depending on which department suffered the most, there are:

  • lumbar osteochondrosis - occurs most often;
  • cervical - ranks second in "popularity";
  • sacral;
  • chest;
  • widespread osteochondrosis, in which several parts of the spine are affected at once;
  • cross pathologies (lumbosacral or cervicothoracic).

Causes of osteochondrosis

The causes of osteochondrosis are quite diverse.

First, the elasticity of the intervertebral discs gradually decreases with age. This means that our backs need special attention. Prolonged stay in a position due to which the spine is cut can cause irreversible changes. Avoid sitting in an asymmetrical position, fight the habit of lying on one side only, carry a load (for example a bag) in only one hand.

A sedentary lifestyle has a detrimental effect on the health of the spine. It is necessary to move, however, physical activity should be moderate. The spine should be given a chance to recover from the burden, and it is also advisable to avoid injuries that also lead to the development of spinal pathologies.

The second group of reasons is related to metabolic disorders and malnutrition. Foods rich in carbohydrates and fats saturate the body with calories, which in our sedentary city life we often simply have nowhere to consume; as a result, energy is deposited in the form of adipose tissue creating extra pounds. Obesity is an increased load on the spine, which leads to the development of osteochondrosis. In addition, such a diet usually contains an insufficient amount of trace elements (calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and others), which are so necessary for strengthening bone tissue. Being overweight is often caused by endocrine diseases. At the same time, a violation of the metabolism of energy, water or minerals can also negatively affect the tissues involved in the structure of the spine.

Factors that contribute to the development of osteochondrosis can be:

  • flat feet;
  • hormonal changes;
  • infectious diseases;
  • local circulatory disorders,

as well as some other factors.

Symptoms of osteochondrosis

neck pain in a girl a symptom of osteochondrosis

In the initial phase of osteochondrosis, there are no pronounced symptoms. It is possible to assume the development of osteochondrosis in the case of:

  • dull back pain (in the area of the affected area of the spine);
  • feeling of heaviness in the back, constant tension of the muscles of the spine;
  • muscle numbness, the appearance of "goose bumps". In such cases it is usually said that the "back is numb";
  • crunching when turning the body and neck;
  • headache, dizziness, tinnitus (typically with cervical osteochondrosis);
  • painful pain in the chest area (usually in thoracic osteochondrosis).

At the first appearance of such symptoms, it is advisable to see a neurologist.

Further development of the disease is manifested in symptoms that carry significant discomfort:

Back pain

There is severe back pain (along the spine). Pain can radiate to the limb.

Numbness of the fingers

A typical manifestation of osteochondrosis is numbness of the fingers and toes.

Restriction of motor activity

Even with minimal physical exertion, the pain increases (for example, as a result of trembling and twitching during travel in transport). Pain leads to significant limitations of mobility and motor activity.

Methods for the diagnosis of osteochondrosis

The main role in the diagnosis of osteochondrosis belongs to instrumental studies: radiography, computed tomography, MRI.

It may be necessary to confirm that the symptoms observed are not caused by other medical conditions. For the purpose of differential diagnosis, general and biochemical blood tests, general urine tests and ultrasound examinations of internal organs are performed.

X-ray of the spine

X-rays of the problem areas of the spine are taken. Which department should be examined is determined based on the patient's complaints.

Computed tomography (CT)

Computed tomography (MSCT) enables obtaining a more informative picture of pathological processes and determining the degree of their severity. MSCT especially enables the detection of intervertebral hernia.

Computed tomography is performed when X-ray data are insufficient.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

MRI is the most informative method for the diagnosis of osteochondrosis. In some cases (for example, when osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine is suspected), MRI cannot be performed. Magnetic resonance imaging enables the visualization of cartilage and soft tissues, on the basis of which it is possible to locate the source of the problem as accurately as possible and determine the cause of the disease.

Methods of treating osteochondrosis

It is recommended to start the treatment of osteochondrosis as early as possible, because pathological changes in the spine are in most cases irreversible. Therefore, treatment is aimed primarily at relieving pain and preventing further development of the disease.

The course of treatment is usually complex and is prescribed individually, depending on the patient's condition. The clinic uses to treat osteochondrosis:

Drug treatment

First of all, treatment is aimed at stopping (removing) the pain syndrome. Anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants (muscle relaxants) are used.

Also, in the treatment of osteochondrosis, drugs that improve blood circulation, chondoprotectors (drugs that restore cartilage tissue), vitamins D and calcium preparations are used.


Osteochondrosis massage relieves muscle tone, stimulates blood flow in the spine and improves metabolic processes. This serves to strengthen the vertebrae and intervertebral discs, suppress inflammation and reduce pain.


In osteochondrosis, such methods of physiotherapy are used as electrophoresis, phonophoresis, UHF, magnetotherapy.


Reflex therapy for osteochondrosis is used as an adjunctive therapy method. Acupuncture helps relieve pain, reduce inflammation, normalize blood circulation and increase the effects of medications used.


correct and incorrect posture

Physiotherapy of osteochondrosis is primarily aimed at removing pain and restoring spinal mobility. A set of specially selected exercises is used.

Prevention of osteochondrosis

As a prevention of osteochondrosis, the doctors of the clinic recommend:

  • maintain proper posture. Posture is the usual body position while standing. Ideally, the head and back should be on the same vertical, the shoulders at the same level, the abdomen tucked in and the chest raised. The habit in the body is developed by exercise, so the posture of the body must be supervised — not to squat or squat;
  • lead an active lifestyle, do gymnastics;
  • it is useful to hang on a horizontal bar - while the spine is stretched;
  • sleep on a hard mattress. It is recommended to buy an orthopedic mattress and pillow;
  • follow a balanced diet, eating foods that contain sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals.