Symptoms and methods of treating spinal osteochondrosis

Signs indicating the development of osteochondrosis - pain in the neck and lower back

Weakening of the intervertebral discs or other spinal disorders that complicate or limit movement indicate the development of a serious disease - osteochondrosis. It can occur in any person and is not associated with age. The spine is a load-bearing element of the skeleton, so its changes affect the quality of life and the condition of many organ systems. Because of this, it is necessary to know the causes, signs of osteochondrosis, as well as treatment methods in order to notice disorders in time and prevent the development of pathology.

What is osteochondrosis

Osteochondrosis is a complex of degenerative disorders in the human spine, which manifest themselves in dystrophic changes in the cartilage of this system.The disease can occur in any joint, but it develops much more often in the intervertebral discs.

The main sign that indicates the development of the disease is pain in the back, neck, and lower back. In the future, pain may be felt in the shoulders, arms, and upper thighs. In the absence of treatment, atrophy of muscle tissue begins, disruption of sensitivity and activity of internal organs, which leads to an incurable condition.

ICD-10 code

The World Health Organization has developed ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision).Its essence is as follows: each disease has its own specific code, which consists of numbers and letters. The doctor, seeing such a code in front of him, knows exactly what disease we are talking about and what treatment needs to be prescribed to save the patient from this problem.

According to ICD-10, osteochondrosis has code M42 and belongs to the class "Diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue" (group "Dorsopathies", subgroup "Deforming dorsopathies").

Causes of development and risk factors

There are many reasons for the occurrence of osteochondrosis. They all depend on which part of the spine the disease develops in - cervical, thoracic or lumbar. There are several main reasons for the development of the disease:

  • Hereditary predisposition. Congenital anomalies contribute to the development of diseases of the musculoskeletal system;
  • Hormonal imbalance. Disruption of the endocrine system, overweight or underweight negatively affect the musculoskeletal system;
  • Age-related changes in the body. As a result of this, muscle, bone and cartilage tissue are destroyed, intervertebral discs wear out with age;
  • Spinal injuries and bruises. Many people spend a long time in one position, for example, sitting at a table, while others do the same type of physical work. All this causes damage to the bone and ligamentous apparatus of the spinal column, as well as injury to the intervertebral discs;
  • Degenerative changes in muscle tissue. These processes appear due to overstrain of individual muscle groups, which most often leads to thoracic osteochondrosis.
  • Sedentary lifestyle. Muscle atrophy occurs, which provokes circulatory disorders and improper formation of the bone skeleton.

Most people are inattentive to their diet, eating foods that are not healthy at all. Because of this, nutritional deficiency occurs, which negatively affects the integrity of the intervertebral cartilage, their mobility and elasticity.

There are several risk factors for developing this disease:

  • hypothermia;
  • flat feet;
  • complications after infectious diseases;
  • overweight;
  • sedentary lifestyle;
  • spinal injuries.

When intervertebral discs and cartilage tissue are damaged, it is important to determine the cause of the disease and begin appropriate treatment.

Types and symptoms

Depending on the location of the pathological process, several types of osteochondrosis are distinguished.

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

It manifests itself as pain in the neck, back of the head and between the shoulder blades. During sleep, neck mobility may be limited. Often with cervical osteochondrosis, numbness of the fingers occurs. Dizziness and tinnitus are also noted. Varieties of cervical osteochondrosis differ in clinical manifestations:

  • cervicalgia– accompanied by neck pain and limited mobility; pain can spread to the shoulder region and the space between the shoulder blades; Tingling and burning sensations in the hands and fingers can often be observed;
  • cervicocranialgia– accompanied by pain from the neck to the parietal and occipital parts of the head, shoulder girdle; muscle tension is characteristic, a feeling of petrification is created; headaches, nausea, tinnitus, imbalance are observed;
  • cervicobrachialgia– characterized by shooting, aching, pulling and throbbing pains; turning and tilting the head can cause an attack of acute pain and physical tension in the affected area, pain occurs in the arms and fingers, leading to weakness of the upper limbs;
  • discogenic root lesion– characterized by paroxysmal pain in the shoulder, forearms and fingers, which is accompanied by numbness and a feeling of coldness; symptoms intensify when coughing, sneezing, or sharply turning the head; may worsen at night, leading to insomnia.

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine

Osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine is a rare form of the disease

This is a fairly rare form. In terms of its symptoms, thoracic osteochondrosis is similar to other diseases, and therefore requires differential diagnosis.As a result of the immobility of the thoracic vertebrae in this area, severe pain is not observed when moving.The pain syndrome spreads to the sternum and under the shoulder blade. Thoracic osteochondrosis can cause disruption of the functioning of internal organs. The main clinical manifestations of thoracic osteochondrosis are:

  • Thoracalgia or intercostal neuralgia– this is irritation or compression of the intercostal nerves by muscles and tissues, which is accompanied by pain in the chest when bending, bending and turning the body, under the ribs, on the front of the chest, pain when inhaling, exhaling; pain may radiate to the shoulder and between the shoulder blades;
  • pain syndrome, in which the pain is shooting in nature; pain can be felt inside the chest, abdomen; worsens with movement, coughing, sneezing, laughing; sensitivity disorders are observed.

Thoracalgia (chest pain) is one of the most serious symptoms a person can experience. Sometimes even a doctor cannot immediately determine the cause of pain in the chest and find out whether this symptom is a sign of a threat to the patient’s life.

Osteochondrosis of the lumbosacral region

The main reason for such changes is a lack of nutrients and heavy loads. Metabolism slows down, as a result of which the disks do not have time to renew themselves, their structure and properties are disrupted. There are several types of lumbar osteochondrosis:

  • lumbago (acute lumbar lumbago)– acute pain in the lumbar spine that occurs when lifting weights, physical activity, or bending; characterized by shooting pain on the right or left in the lumbar region; they also distinguish lumbago with sciatica, when the pain spreads to the buttocks and legs;
  • radicular vascular syndrome (radiculoischemia)occurs when the radiculomedullary artery is damaged and is accompanied by paralysis of the extensors and flexors of the gluteal muscle group, the foot hangs limply, there is no movement.

Osteochondrosis of the spine with radicular-vascular syndrome is a very dangerous pathology, which is expressed in acute pain, since CSS is often a consequence of some disease.

Stages of development

The stages of osteochondrosis are characterized as follows:

  1. The initial stage begins with the loss of fluid reserves in the nucleus pulposus of the intervertebral discs. As a resultthe physiological position of the disc and the structure of the nucleus pulposus are disrupted.
  2. Further development of the disease (first degree) is due to a decrease in the height of the disc.Muscles and ligaments become overstrained and lose their ability to work normally.At this stage, vertebral displacement may appear.
  3. The second degree is characterized by changes in bone tissue.Arthrosis forms, subluxations occur.
  4. The third degree is determined by the fact thatbone growths (osteophytes) form on the spine,which lead to injury to the nerve roots.

The development of osteochondrosis should not be neglected, since with each subsequent stage the course of treatment and rehabilitation increases. Complications that develop during illness can lead to undesirable consequences.

What is the difference between radiculitis and arthrosis?

The symptoms of osteochondrosis and radiculitis are very similar, but the main difference between them is that in the first case they occur only in the later stages, while radiculitis is characterized by the early manifestation of severe symptoms.Also, with radiculitis, pressure on the paravertebral muscles and even tilting the head cause severe pain, resembling an electric shock, which does not happen with osteochondrosis.

Comparing osteochondrosis and arthrosis, it is worth noting that with the second disease, all elements of the joint are affected, resulting in crunching and limited mobility. Osteochondrosis, in turn, is characterized by destruction of intervertebral discs with the formation of hernial protrusions.

Differential diagnostic methods are used to determine the disease. This is a comprehensive approach that requires effort and time.


If there is a suspicion of osteochondrosis, the doctor prescribes a comprehensive diagnosis, which consists of the following studies.

Checking reflexes during a neurological examination to diagnose osteochondrosis

Neurological examination

It is performed by a neurologist. This examination includes checking reflexes, muscle strength, and the extent of pain to other parts of the body.Neurological examination is very important for osteochondrosis, because this disease affects the functioning of nerve endings and the spinal cord.

Myelography of the spine

Allows you to see how the cerebrospinal fluid spreads within the spinal membranes. This helps to identify pathologies of the spinal column, diseases of the nerve roots and spinal cord. Under local anesthesia, a special dye is injected into the area of the spinal cord and nerves. An X-ray machine provides a complete picture of the spine, especially the bones. This method allows you to identify any deviations.

Computed tomography (CT)

These are pictures of one or two segments of the spine. Using this procedure, you can see a picture of the bone tissue of a certain spinal region. The doctor interprets the resulting image and, if a narrowing of the space between the vertebrae is visible, this indicates that the patient has osteochondrosis.

Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)

NMR uses strong magnetic fields as well as radio waves to create images of the human body from individual scans.With this method, ligaments, tendons and bone structures are very well differentiated.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

It is an effective procedure because it has a safe effect on the body - during the procedure, the results are obtained through the use of a magnetic field rather than radiation.

You cannot agree to treatment prescribed without a preliminary comprehensive diagnosis. This can only lead to worsening health.

Treatment methods

Treatment of osteochondrosis involves many complex measures.Depending on the severity of the disease, a specific treatment strategy is selected.

Drug therapy

As a rule, treatment of osteochondrosis begins with taking a certain group of drugs:

  • painkillers and various analgesics;
  • medicines that relieve spasms;
  • vitamins B and C;
  • drugs that relieve inflammation;
  • medications that promote better blood circulation.

In addition to taking medications orally, patients are prescribed various non-steroidal ointments and gels that can relieve pain and reduce swelling of problem areas.


In addition to drug therapy, various physiotherapeutic procedures are used. Thanks to this method, drugs can be delivered directly to the site of inflammation. Main types of physiotherapy:

  • Electrophoresis– conducting physiotherapy with electric fields modulated by currents. This allows drugs to be introduced into the body. Helps relieve pain and muscle spasms;
  • Magnetotherapy. This painless physiotherapy involves the positive effect of a magnetic field on active cells of nerve and muscle fibers. As a result, the work of molecular structures is activated and the functional properties of blood vessels are improved;
  • Ultrasound therapy. Ultrasound is sound waves produced in a range that the human ear cannot perceive. Thanks to this, blood circulation in the affected areas improves, spasm is relieved, pain is eliminated and inflammatory processes stop;
  • Vibration effect. With the help of mechanical vibrations, the affected area is affected;
  • Balneotherapy. The essence of the method is the use of mineral water, which relaxes muscles and has a beneficial effect on the musculoskeletal system. Use mineral water in a shower or bath.
Magnetotherapy is a physiotherapy procedure that improves the condition of osteochondrosis.

Physiotherapy should be carried out during the period of weakening of symptoms, when there is no pain. In the acute stage of the disease, the doctor selects a set of procedures that can eliminate the pain syndrome. As a result of proper physical treatment, the patient stops feeling pain, the spinal column becomes more mobile, which indicates recovery.

Traditional methods

Treatment of osteochondrosis may include the use of folk recipes, the effectiveness of which depends on the individual characteristics of the body. Here are some of them:

  1. You will need 300 g of radish juice, 200 g of honey and 100 g of vodka. Mix all ingredients and lubricate affected areas 2 times a day.
  2. You will need 1 tbsp. l. rye flour, 100 g butter, 1 tbsp. l. vinegar and 1 egg. Mix all ingredients and leave for two days. Rub into affected areas.
  3. Grate raw potatoes and mix with a small amount of honey. Apply the prepared pulp to the sore spot for 2 hours.

Traditional methods of treatment cannot act as independent therapy.To achieve a visible and lasting result, you should combine medicinal, conservative and folk methods.


Spinal traction to eliminate vertebral displacement in a patient with osteochondrosis

Spinal traction is often used for osteochondrosis. With the help of traction, muscle spasm is relieved, displacement of the vertebrae, and deformation of the spinal column are eliminated. The procedure is carried out in a hospital. There are dry and underwater methods of spinal traction.

Dry traction is carried out under the influence of the weight of the patient, who lies on an inclined plane.To increase the traction force, the doctor may use additional weights. With underwater traction, the healing effect is enhanced due to the effect of warm water on the body.

Under the influence of water, the distance between the vertebrae increases, vascular spasms in the affected area are eliminated, and blood supply improves.


Surgical treatment of osteochondrosis is carried out in cases where there are severe complications.Such complications include: intervertebral disc herniation, vertebral displacement, and a significant decrease in the lumen of the spinal canal.

In this case, various types of operations are performed. These include operations to secure displaced vertebrae with metal plates, insert artificial implants of intervertebral joints, or remove individual bone growths.

Fixation of displaced vertebrae with implants at an advanced stage of osteochondrosis


Physical therapy for osteochondrosis is one of the most important aspects of treatment. As a result, blood circulation is gradually restored, the vertebrae return to their normal position, and the spine is significantly strengthened.

In the initial stages of the disease, it consists of gymnastics.In cases where gymnastics does not bring positive results, the doctor selects an individual set of exercises for the patient, combined with other physiotherapy procedures.


The disease can cause the following complications:

  • inflammatory diseases of the nerve roots (radiculitis, radiculopathy);
  • intervertebral hernia;
  • vegetative-vascular dystonia;
  • various neurological complications;
  • severe headaches, migraines;
  • limb atrophy;
  • spinal canal stenosis;
  • spondyloarthrosis (proliferation of the edges of the joint surface as a result of deforming arthrosis);
  • spinal cord stroke.

If drug therapy does not bring positive results, surgical treatment is prescribed. The slightest delay and not starting treatment on time can lead to disability, as the spine will lose its properties and mobility.

If treatment therapy is not started in a timely manner, complications such as malfunction of the organs of the reproductive and urinary system may occur.


Treating osteochondrosis is quite difficult. Therefore, every effort must be made to prevent the disease from arising in the body. To prevent the occurrence of osteochondrosis, it is necessary to constantly carry out preventive measures:

  • Rightorganize a workplace;
  • when working you needtake short breaksdoing light gymnastics;
  • watch your posture;
  • dailythe gait should be easy, without constriction;
  • choose the right and comfortable pillow, elastic mattress.The sleeping surface should be flatand elastic;
  • The daily diet should contain a minimum of salty and sweet dishes, and more foods enriched with calcium. Vitamins C, E, B must be present. They will strengthen the cartilage tissue and make it elastic.
  • active lifestyle.
  • prophylacticmassage.
  • medicinalgymnastics.

Preventive measures are also the main requirements during the rehabilitation period. Following these simple rules allows you to avoid relapse of the disease even after complete recovery.


  1. Osteochondrosis is a degenerative disorder of the human spine. Symptoms depend on the type of disease and the place of its occurrence (cervical, thoracic, lumbosacral).
  2. Complications of the disease can not only disrupt the integrity of the spine, but also significantly affect the functioning of other organ systems.
  3. Osteochondrosis can only be cured in a comprehensive manner, combining medication, physiotherapy and therapeutic exercises.
  4. Not complicatedpreventive measures will help protect your body from severe pathology.