Osteochondrosis - symptoms and treatment methods

Osteochondrosis is a common disease in which a person feels pain and limitation of movement in different parts of the back. Previously, it was believed that this disease was characteristic only for the elderly, but in recent years, young patients suffer more from osteochondrosis. According to statistics, every second inhabitant of the planet is prone to back pain.

osteochondrosis in a woman

Osteochondrosis in a woman

The human spine consists of 32-34 vertebrae connected to each other in a vertical position. Between the vertebrae are cartilaginous layers - the so-called cartilaginous discs. They provide flexibility and mobility of the spine during movement.

What is osteochondrosis? This is a disease of the spine, the basis of which destroys the intervertebral discs, and then the vertebrae themselves. Over time, this destruction of the disc leads to complications such as bulging (bulging part of the disc) and herniated disc.

Often, osteochondrosis affects residents of large cities. Sedentary work, as a result, immobility, causes static overload of the spine.

The reasons

When a person walks, the load on the spine is unevenly distributed. The intervertebral discs are compressed, the distance between the vertebrae decreases, as a result, the intervertebral cartilage tissue is destroyed. If the disease has started, the nerve roots are also damaged. In this case, a person may have pain in the area of nerve roots, as well as tingling, burning, "creeping" sensation. Pain can appear when sitting for a long time in an uncomfortable position, squeezing the arms or legs. In addition, there are risk factors.

Osteochondrosis can cause some diseases of the musculoskeletal system, for example: flat feet, scoliosis, diseases of the musculoskeletal system. In addition, osteochondrosis is also found in endocrine pathologies, for example, metabolic disorders, diabetes mellitus, thyroid gland diseases. Lifestyle also affects the course of the disease. If a person is often in an uncomfortable position, stands or sits for a long time, leads a sedentary lifestyle, then all this leads to the destruction of intervertebral discs. A diet with a predominance of fats and a lack of vitamins and minerals can also cause problems with the spine. If a person has injuries, bruises and operations on the spine, this can lead to exacerbation of osteochondrosis.

Heredity has a negative effect on the course of the disease.

osteochondrosis in men

Osteochondrosis in men

Bad habits (smoking, drinking too much alcohol) also have a negative effect on the spine. Nicotine has a negative effect on the metabolism, which causes weakening of the intervertebral discs. Excess weight adds extra stress to all parts of the spine and eventually damages the intervertebral discs. A sedentary lifestyle is also not good for the spine. With a lack of movement, the load on the back increases, the intervertebral discs are "erased" and the cartilage is damaged. Microtrauma of the spine also occurs with excessive physical strength and professional sports. The first signs of osteochondrosis may not appear immediately.

Types of osteochondrosis


The neck is a very mobile part of the body, subject to many side-to-side turns every day. There are seven small vertebrae connected to each other by special discs in the neck. The disease of this department is considered quite serious, because in the cervical region there are many vessels (arteries and veins), as well as nerve roots responsible for important body systems. Cervical osteochondrosis often makes it difficult for the head to be saturated with blood, so the brain also suffers from it. It is believed that operations on this part of the spine can lead to immobilization, that is, impaired movement in the entire body.


The vertebrae of the thoracic region are not as mobile as the back and neck. For this reason, thoracic osteochondrosis is less common than other types. People who lift weights, as well as athletes, suffer from the disease of this part of the back more than others. There are cases when thoracic osteochondrosis is confused with heart attacks and lung diseases. In order to make a correct diagnosis, an examination and a doctor's consultation are necessary.

Lumbar (or lumbosacral)

The lumbar spine consists of five vertebrae connected by intervertebral discs. These vertebrae are large and strong, they can bear the weight of the human body. However, if the metabolic processes are disturbed, the vertebra quickly becomes less elastic and flexible, the nerve roots of the lower back are damaged. As a result, a person experiences severe back pain that spreads to the leg or groin.

If the sacral spine is also affected, such osteochondrosis is called lumbosacral. In this form, the defeat is stronger and more serious. Since the spinal cord and nerve roots leading to the lower limbs are damaged, it becomes difficult for a person to walk, and sometimes paralysis occurs in the legs. Urinary incontinence is possible.

Main symptoms

There is cervical, thoracic and lumbar osteochondrosis. The disease has many symptoms that depend on the level of the lesion.

Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis

The main symptoms are pain in the neck, aggravated by turning and bending the head. Painkillers help, but not for long. Dizziness and ringing in the ears are common. Some patients report numbness in the face and neck, weakness in the arms.

Symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis

It happens less often. With this type of osteochondrosis, a person has pain in the chest area, between the shoulder blades. Pain worsens with bending and movement. There is a feeling of swelling in the throat, it becomes difficult to breathe. There may be numbness in the chest, pain in the heart, stomach.

Symptoms of lumbar osteochondrosis

The most common type of this disease. The main symptom is back pain that spreads to one or both legs, groin, abdomen. Especially often, sensations arise when turning to the side, bending the body.

symptoms of osteochondrosis

Symptoms of osteochondrosis


Treatment of osteochondrosis is carried out by a neurologist. He will prescribe an examination to make a diagnosis. Basically, this is an X-ray of the affected back, if you suspect complications - protrusions and tears of the spine, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is prescribed. In some cases, ultrasound of the vessels of the vertebral arteries is performed.


Treatment of osteochondrosis depends on the stage of the disease, the age of the person and individual characteristics.

Therapy aims to relieve pain, relax muscles and prevent complications. The main group in the treatment of the disease is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These are pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs. Anti-inflammatory drugs are available in the form of injections, as well as tablets. Released with a prescription.

In addition, muscle relaxants are used - drugs that relax spasmodic muscles, so muscle pain decreases. It is usually used for external use. Such drugs reduce pain, create a "distracting" effect, that is, hot or cold.

Topical agents are great for pain relief. Such ointments and creams relieve swelling, relieve inflammation and reduce pain at the site of the lesion.

Medicines do not have a cumulative effect, and most importantly, they are available without a prescription. These tools reliably relieve pain in any part of the spine.

Among them, warming ointments can be distinguished - their effect occurs in about half an hour. Their action is to expand the blood vessels of the skin, preventing the transmission of nerve impulses to the brain.

However, it should be remembered that ointments with an analgesic effect can have a negative effect on people with exacerbation of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.

In addition, there are other external agents - patches, which also relieve pain and swelling. These patches are available without a prescription.

In addition to relieving pain, prescribe drugs that restore nerve roots. These are B vitamins. They are prescribed in courses in the form of injections or tablets.

In addition to drug treatment, the patient is prescribed to wear special bandages and corsets. Such products empty the spine, improve metabolic processes and strengthen the structure of the disc. It is prescribed after the pain in the spine is eliminated.

As written above, with osteochondrosis, the flexibility and mobility of the intervertebral disc deteriorates. To restore this important structure, chondroprotectors are used in the treatment, these drugs restore cartilage and prevent their destruction. They are used only on the doctor's prescription, in courses.

After removing the pain and inflammation, recovery is required. Physiotherapy is used for this: massage, acupuncture, electrical stimulation. Massage is prescribed no later than 3-6 months after the treatment. If a person has protrusions and tears, spinal traction is recommended.

Exercise therapy for osteochondrosis

Exercise therapy and gymnastics are an important addition to the treatment of osteochondrosis. The prerequisite is that the exercises are performed only after the back pain subsides. Exercises for each patient are selected individually, depending on the age and characteristics of the body.

Gymnastics with osteochondrosis improves blood circulation and metabolism, strengthens the back muscles. Thanks to this strengthening, spasms and excessive tension in the spine pass, the back becomes stronger. Regularity of performance and individual selection of exercises are important. In addition, gymnastics is a proven and effective way to prevent the development of the disease itself. So, in addition to a little exercise in the morning, five minutes at work will also benefit your back.

How to sleep properly?

It is believed that sleeping on the back is the most beneficial. This is the most comfortable position for the spine, because in this position there is complete relaxation of all muscles. In addition, it is recommended to put a small roller or pillow under the knees with lumbar osteochondrosis. It is not recommended to sleep on the stomach - it is harmful to the cervical spine.

In this situation, a person turns his head, and as a result, important vessels and nerve roots in the neck are compressed, blood circulation is disturbed. As a result, the blood does not stop, dizziness and headaches occur, numbness in the hands may occur. Side body position is also considered acceptable.

osteochondrosis due to sedentary work

Osteochondrosis can occur due to prolonged work at the computer

Pillow and mattress


It is better to choose orthopedic products for proper and healthy sleep. An orthopedic mattress is useful for all parts of the spine, it allows you to maintain the natural anatomical curvature - this improves blood circulation in the back. The back muscles on such a mattress are in the most relaxed and comfortable position, and a person gets enough sleep.

Mattresses are different: hard, soft, medium hardness. It is worth choosing individually.

  • For children and teenagers, a mattress with medium and high firmness will be useful.
  • A medium-firm mattress is recommended for people over 25 with healthy backs.
  • If you have scoliosis and other diseases of the back, it is worth buying a hard mattress.

A pillow

An important factor for healthy sleep is the choice of pillow. It should be soft and comfortable enough to support the curves of the spine and relieve tension from the neck muscles. The pillow has a beneficial effect on sleep, relaxes the neck and head, and improves blood circulation. These pillows help maintain posture and prevent snoring.

I would like to add that comfort and a favorable environment are necessary for healthy sleep. Do not be nervous before going to bed, avoid physical activity. You can take a relaxing bath with salt or herbs (lavender, chamomile). You should sleep in a well-ventilated room with humidity (40-60%).


It is probably no secret that prevention is always easier and cheaper than treatment. It is necessary to take care of the spine from childhood. It is important to monitor your posture during classes and meals, choose the right furniture.

If your work is sedentary, then try to take a break every two hours, take five-minute breaks for gymnastics. Try not to stand in one position for a long time - this increases the load on the back. Choose a firm springless mattress for sleep. Engage in physical activity. Swimming, fitness, dancing - choose active leisure activities.

Try not to lift the weight in one sitting. It is better to divide the load into several parts. Do not lift heavy things with one hand - distribute the weight between both hands. Take vitamins and trace elements, vitamins of group B, vitamin D, E, calcium, phosphorus are especially useful for the back.

See a doctor for back pain.

Take care of your back!