Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine (CS) is one of the most common pathologies of the musculoskeletal system. Every year, doctors diagnose this disease more often and it progresses more and more difficult. According to statistics, degenerative-dystrophic changes in the upper part of the spine are more common in women, especially in patients in the postmenopausal period. The main symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis in women are pain, limited mobility, impaired cerebral circulation and this is dangerous not only for health but also for life. To protect yourself from the dangerous consequences of the pathology, you need to start treating it in the early stages. It is important to conduct a comprehensive therapy, to change the lifestyle to stop the destruction of the spinal segments and to prevent serious complications.
Development of the disease
The cervical spine is most vulnerable to various injuries and degenerative changes. This is due to the fact that this segment is the most mobile, and the muscles here are weak. The small cervical vertebrae withstand severe stress every day, which leads to the gradual destruction of the intervertebral discs. The vertebrae are pressed against each other, due to which the cartilage pads between them lose a lot of fluid, begin to break down and deform.
In addition, osteochondrosis of the cervical spine develops due to insufficient nutrition of cartilage tissue. The spinal canal in this area is narrow, which is why it is often pinched, which causes neurological symptoms.
The pathology in women in the early stages is manifested by heaviness in the back of the head, numbness in the hands, etc. Often patients confuse the first signs of the disease with fatigue.
A large number of blood vessels and nerve roots are located in the neck area, and when compressed, neurological disorders can occur. It is especially dangerous if a deformed disc or vertebra compresses the spinal artery that supplies important parts of the brain. When pressed, the coordination of movements is disturbed, the woman may lose her balance, her vision and hearing deteriorate, and the risk of stroke increases.
Help.According to statistics, cervical osteochondrosis is most often found in patients aged 25-40 years. This is due to the massive decrease in physical activity, sedentary work. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with the disease than men because they have more fragile vertebrae and thin bone tissue.
Doctors distinguish 4 stages of osteochondrosis SHOP:
- Stage 1- the intervertebral disc loses some moisture, its height decreases, cracks may appear on the fibrous ring (outer shell). This is the stage of cervical chondrosis that is difficult to identify because of the unexpressed symptoms. The neck gets tired quickly, there is discomfort, heaviness in the injured area, sometimes there is a slight pain that passes quickly.
- Stage 2- cracks on the surface of the disc increase, the pulpal nucleus (gel-like contents of the disc) is displaced, it can protrude through the damaged areas. This causes the cartilage to bulge, which can compress the spinal cord and its roots. Periodically, severe pain, weakness, limited mobility, numbness of the face, neck, shoulders, arms may occur.
- Stage 3- the protrusion pierces the outer shell of the disc, so that a hernia is formed. The pain becomes more pronounced, neurological disorders are present.
- Stage 4- the disc is almost completely destroyed, the vertebrae rub against each other, bone growths (osteophytes) appear on their edges, which are designed to stabilize the damaged segment. Nerve endings, spinal cord, blood vessels are damaged. Adjacent joints begin to damage. The clinical signs are pronounced.
It is easiest to stop the degenerative-dystrophic changes in the first two stages of osteochondrosis in the STORE. In stage 3, comprehensive treatment will help stop further destruction of the spinal segment. At the last stage you can not do without surgery.
SHOP for osteochondrosis is a complex and lengthy process, which most often has several causes. In most cases, the pathology occurs as a result of a sedentary lifestyle, malnutrition, metabolic disorders. Often the disease occurs due to injuries or due to the natural aging of the body and the weakening of its defenses.
Doctors identify the main causes of osteochondrosis STORE in women:
- Disruption of metabolic processes.
- Passive lifestyle.
- Genetic predisposition.
- Chronic muscle tension around the cervical segment.
- Distortion of the stand.
- Lack of fluids and nutrients in the body.
- Prolonged stay in an awkward position (neck is stretched forward and back is bent).
- Frequent wearing of high heels.
- SHOP INJURIES.
- Lifting heavy objects.
- Autoimmune pathologies.
- Frequent stress, chronic fatigue.
- Infectious diseases.
- The neck is too long or too short, etc.
All these factors provoke malnutrition of the intervertebral discs and lead to their degeneration.
Female cervical osteochondrosis can be caused by pathologies of the spinal artery associated with genetic predisposition, intrauterine disorders, trauma during childbirth. The disease can occur as a result of rheumatism, endocrine disorders, excessive load on the cervical segment during pregnancy, local overload.
Important.The main cause of cervical osteochondrosis in women is menopause, as well as the changes associated with this period. At this stage, the concentration of progesterone, which is very important for bone tissue, decreases in the body. The likelihood of degenerative changes is associated with age-related weakening of the neck muscles and weakening of the vertebral support in this area.
Osteochondrosis is characterized by a wavy course, when the acute period is replaced by remission. Exacerbation can provoke infections, injuries, hypothermia, prolonged stress on the neck.
The first signs of cervical osteochondrosis in women are headache, discomfort, heaviness in the neck. It is important to distinguish in time the pain of chondrosis from migraine or autonomic dysfunction.
The clinical manifestations of osteochondrosis SHOP in women are caused by neurological syndromes:
- Dyscalgia of the cervixoccurs when nerve endings are irritated by fragments of damaged cartilage. Then there is a specific crunch in the neck, pain that becomes more pronounced when moving the head and after sleep.
- Scalen's syndromeoccurs as a result of damage to the vessels and nerves of the brachial plexus and subclavian artery. This symptom complex is accompanied by pain from the inner surface of the shoulder to the arm on the injured side. The limb becomes pale, cold, swollen, tingling occurs. The pain in the neck extends to the back of the head when the patient turns his head.
- Shoulder-scapular periarthrosis syndrome- Dystrophic changes affect the tendon fibers that surround the shoulder. Painful sensations from the neck radiate to the shoulder and shoulder girdle. There is a forced position of the neck - it is inclined to the affected side, and the shoulder is slightly lowered.
- Spinal artery syndrome- the blood vessel is compressed by fragments of the damaged disc or osteophytes (depending on the stage of the disease). The patient is dizzy and has headache, nausea, and sometimes vomiting. The pain is localized in the nape, crown and temples.
- Cardiac- the nerve bundles of the spinal cord are damaged. There is heart pain, arrhythmia. If C3 is damaged, there is pain in half of the neck, the tongue swells, the patient cannot chew food normally. If C4 is injured, then there is discomfort in the shoulder girdle, clavicle, heart. With the defeat of C5, the reaction to neck pain extends to the shoulder girdle, the inner surface of the shoulder. C6 irritation manifests as pain from the neck and shoulder blade to the shoulder girdle and spreads throughout the arm to the thumb. If C7 is damaged, the pain syndrome spreads to the back of the shoulder girdle, capturing the entire arm, including the index and middle fingers. When C8 is pressed, the pain spreads from the affected area to the elbow and little finger.
Also, a woman's emotional sphere can be disturbed, weakness arises, she becomes anxious, sensitive. Insomnia often occurs, memory and attention are weakened due to regular headaches.
Symptoms of a cerebrovascular accident occur when a woman suddenly throws her head back, tilts it, or does work that puts strain on her arms and cervical spine, such as digging, painting the ceiling, and carrying weights.
Disturbances of cerebral circulation are manifested by dizziness, trembling gait, "flies" in front of the eyes, tinnitus, weakness, nausea. In some patients the voice becomes hoarse, sometimes disappears, a sore throat appears.
Osteochondrosis during menopause is accompanied by migraine, increased sweating of the body in the area between the neck and shoulder girdle. When the spinal artery is compressed, the work of the cardiovascular system is disturbed.
If the disease lasts a long time, then there is a violation of blood circulation to important centers that perform neuro-endocrine functions. Due to the increased permeability of the vascular walls, atherosclerosis of the cerebral and cardiac arteries develops.
If you notice symptoms of osteochondrosis, see a therapist. After a visual examination, a specialist will refer you to an orthopedist, vertebrologist or neurologist.
The following methods are used to diagnose cervical osteochondrosis:
- X-ray examination allows you to determine that the patient has displaced the vertebrae, osteophytes are present at their edges, the distance between the vertebrae is reduced, etc. Therefore, the examination is performed in different planes. To detail the characteristic changes, the doctor takes visual photographs.
- CT of the cervical spine provides detailed information about pathological changes in the vertebrae. This method allows you to obtain volumetric images for a more detailed study, it is used in severe diagnostic cases.
- MRI is used to accurately assess the condition of soft tissues (nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, muscles) in the affected area.
- Electromyography allows you to check the conduction of a nerve fiber.
Also, doctors may prescribe Doppler ultrasound (Doppler ultrasound of the large arteries of the brain) to determine the state of blood flow in this area.
In the early stages, the treatment of osteochondrosis in the SHOP in women can be done at home. However, the doctor must prepare a treatment plan. It is important to understand that this is a long process and complete recovery is unlikely (especially in older women).
The complex treatment includes:
- Medicine intake.
- Use of orthopedic devices.
- Physiotherapeutic procedures.
- Massage, manual impact.
- Alternative treatments.
Conservative techniques will help to stop pain, inflammation, normalize muscle tone, improve metabolic processes, nourish the damaged segments of the spine, etc. With timely therapy it is possible to stop the pathological changes.
Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis in women is carried out with the help of drugs that will help improve the metabolism of the cartilage between the vertebrae, stop inflammation, pain. The following drugs are used for this purpose:
- NSAIDs. It can help relieve mild to moderate inflammation and pain.
- Analgesics. The pain is relieved.
- Preparations for improving cerebral circulation.
- Muscle relaxants - help relieve muscle spasm.
- Chondroprotectors. They help stop the destruction of discs, improve metabolic processes and speed up recovery.
- Magnesium-based drugs.
- Nootropics. They stimulate the brain by normalizing its blood circulation, have a mild sedative effect.
Help.Therapeutic blockades are used for intense pain that is not relieved with oral medications.
Treatment can be supplemented with anti-inflammatory and analgesic in the form of gels, creams and ointments. They will be effective in remission or in combination with oral agents.
The decision to choose drug combinations is made by the doctor. The specialist will prepare a schedule for taking medications and determine their dose. It is important to follow his recommendations, as many of the above drugs threaten dangerous complications.
During the acute stage of osteochondrosis in the STORE, the woman must give up strenuous physical activity. To relieve the cervical segment, you need to wear a special corset (collar Shants), which will fix the vertebrae in the correct position. This device is recommended for use during prolonged sedentary or heavy physical work.
Physiotherapy procedures will help relieve pain and improve blood circulation in the affected area:
- Diadynamic therapy.
- Magnetic therapy.
- Ultraviolet radiation, etc.
The therapeutic effect manifests itself after about the third session, then headache, hearing impairment, visual disturbances, dizziness, sleep normalizes or disappears and the general condition improves.
By underwater pulling the cervical segment, it is possible to widen the distance between the vertebrae, free a nerve or blood vessel from compression, and restore the normal position of the vertebrae.
The massage will normalize muscle tone, reduce the flow of lymph fluid, which causes swelling. After a few sessions, blood circulation in the affected area improves.
Therapeutic gymnastics is one of the most effective methods for treating osteochondrosis in the STORE. Exercise therapy allows you to strengthen the weak muscles of the neck, which then take some of the load from the spine and help stop or slow down the degenerative-dystrophic changes. During the classes the blood circulation improves, the metabolic processes are accelerated, the nutrition of the discs, which has a positive effect on their condition.
Women need to train every day. They consist of simple but effective exercises. The complex consists of bends, tilts of the head in different directions, as well as movements of the neck, during which the hands are used. These items can be performed at home, but only with a doctor's permission. Physiotherapy exercises are performed only in remission.
Complex treatment can be supplemented with reflexology (acupuncture), hirudotherapy (leech therapy), swimming and more.
The operation is prescribed in the last stages of osteochondrosis of the STORE, which are accompanied by severe destruction of osteochondral structures. Also, surgery is indispensable if conservative techniques are ineffective or the spinal canal is significantly narrowed.
In the cases described above, an anterior cervical discectomy is performed. During the procedure, the doctor immobilizes the damaged segment of the spine and removes the hernia that compresses the spinal nerve. Then the vertebrae, between which the disc is removed, merge. If necessary, the space between the vertebrae is filled with a synthetic insert (cell).
After 3-5 days the patient is discharged at home. The rehabilitation period is about 12 weeks. To speed up your recovery, you need to take medication, wear a corset, lead a healthy lifestyle, go to physiotherapy procedures, and finally exercise.
To quickly get rid of the unpleasant symptoms of osteochondrosis and stop the degenerative-dystrophic changes in the cervical segment, you need to adjust your lifestyle. To do this, the patient must follow the following recommendations:
- Go for walks every day, avoid running, jumping and other explosive activities.
- Heavy objects must not be carried.
- You can not sit for a long time, in extreme cases wear a corset and periodically take a horizontal position.
- Perform specific exercises for the back muscles at home.
- Sleep on an orthopedic mattress and a special pillow.
- Follow a diet, supplement the diet with foods rich in magnesium, calcium (nuts, dairy products, seafood, legumes), as well as plant fiber, mucopolysaccharides (meat jelly, jelly). Give up fatty, fried, too salty foods, alcohol. Your doctor will advise you on dietary rules in more detail. But in any case it must be correct.
Hypothermia should not be allowed, warming up will be beneficial in the absence of an inflammatory process.
In the absence of timely treatment of cervical osteochondrosis, a woman may experience the following consequences of the pathology:
- The likelihood of a bulge, which after a while transforms into a hernia. The bulge compresses the spinal cord as well as its nerves, causing neurological damage.
- Osteophytes occur when the disc is severely damaged; they irritate the spinal nerves and blood vessels.
- In advanced cases, severe weakening of the neck muscles or incomplete paralysis is possible, after which the head involuntarily hangs sideways or forward.
- Compression of the vertebral arteries, impaired blood circulation in the affected area. This condition can cause neuralgia (pain along the nerve pathway), hearing and vision damage.
- Paralysis (incomplete or complete) of the hands.
- Stroke, etc.
If a woman deals with the problem in the early stages of osteochondrosis SHOP, then she will be able to prevent the above conditions.
Ideally, it is necessary to commit to the prevention of osteochondrosis in the STORE even during the period of intrauterine development. The expectant mother should exclude factors that negatively affect the development of the fetus: infections, oxygen starvation, intoxication. If an injury has occurred at birth, the newborn should be treated.
To reduce the likelihood of developing osteochondrosis STORE, a woman should follow these recommendations:
- Load the spine evenly, for example, carry the load with both hands or alternate on the right and then on the left.
- Do not lift too many weights yourself.
- Try to avoid neck injuries, hypothermia.
- When working on garden plots, take a break every 1, 5 hours, go to rest for 20 minutes.
- Choose shoes with a soft sole that will soften the blows while running or jumping.
- For long periods of time, use a high-back chair with a headrest or wear a corset.
It is also important to eat properly, to control weight, to avoid stress, to take vitamins for medical reasons, to treat pathologies that can cause osteochondrosis in time. In the remission stage, it is recommended to visit sanatoriums to undergo a course of treatment.
The most important
As you can see, osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is more common in women than in men, as the former have more fragile vertebrae and thinner bone tissue. The patient's pathology is particularly susceptible in the postmenopausal period. The disease manifests itself in pain, neurological disorders and dangerous symptoms of cerebrovascular accident. It is recommended to start treatment in the early stages to avoid dangerous complications from osteochondrosis. For this, the woman must take medication, adjust her lifestyle, attend physiotherapy procedures, massage, do physiotherapy, etc. Surgical treatment is indicated only in advanced cases. To prevent pathology, you should monitor moderate physical activity, treat injuries and diseases in a timely manner that can provoke osteochondrosis, and so on.