What is osteoarthritis of the spine?
- Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the spine
- Causes of osteoarthritis of the spine
- Diagnostics of the osteoarthritis of the spine
- Treatment of osteoarthritis of the spine
Osteoarthritis of the spine is a state of deterioration or degenerative changes in the cartilage tissue and adjacent bone, resulting in edema and pain. In the future, the disease leads to the formation of bone growths, the so-called osteophytes or spurs.
Osteoarthritis of the spine most often affects middle-aged people, as well as of retirement age, which is explained by degeneration of intervertebral discs and articular tissue. If we consider the statistics of the disease in a global aspect, then up to 16% of the entire population of the world suffers from osteoarthritis. If at the age of 55 years, the disease more often affects women, then after 60 almost every resident undergoes pathological changes in the spine.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the spine
The main symptoms of osteoarthritis of the spine include the following:
- The occurrence of severe pain in that part of the back, the spine of which has been subject to changes. Pain can occur paroxysmal. At the beginning, they are most often associated with physical activity, or they arise after a long stay in the same position, sitting in an uncomfortable position. If you do a little warm-up, then the attack passes. As the pathology begins to develop, pain becomes a constant companion, always pursues a person: during movement and during rest.
- The joints are deformed.
- With an exacerbation of the disease, the affected area becomes edematous.
- If, due to deformation of the vertebrae, constriction of blood vessels occurs, then there is an insufficient blood supply to the brain, which leads to the occurrence of headache and even toothache.
- General malaise.
- Inability to perform the usual actions in full due to pain in the back and neck.
- Crunching of the vertebrae when turning the body or neck.
Causes of osteoarthritis of the spine
The reasons leading to the development of osteoarthritis include the following factors:
- Mechanical injuries: trauma, excessive loads, both statistical and dynamic.
- Anomalies in the development of the spinal column due to genetic characteristics.
- Violation of blood supply, in particular: flying endarteritis and vascular atherosclerosis.
- Disruptions in metabolism.
Many doctors studying the problem of the development of osteoarthritis of the spine agree that this disease is natural for every human body, as a result of its aging. Similar conclusions are made on the basis that after 40 years, the parts of the spine to one degree or another in the vast majority of people have undergone the destructive effects of osteoarthritis.
Diagnostics of the osteoarthritis of the spine
To make an accurate diagnosis, the doctor will need to study the history of the development of the disease, interview the patient, use palpation to establish the location of the pain and its intensity.
But on the basis of only physical methods, it can be quite difficult to make a diagnosis, therefore, to clarify the data, the doctor prescribes the following procedures:
- To establish the degree of damage to bone tissue, as well as discs and cartilage adjacent to it, an X-ray is assigned. But the disadvantage of this procedure is that it does not show the changes that occur at the initial stage, which means that early diagnosis of the disease is difficult.
- To exclude such a pathology as rheumatism, which has similar symptoms, it is necessary to take blood for study.
- MRI is used to detect damage to the discs, as well as the presence of narrowing of the lumens through which the spinal nerves exit.
An integrated approach to the study of the problem will make it possible to exclude the slightest mistake in the diagnosis, and therefore, to prescribe an adequate treatment for the disease.
Treatment of osteoarthritis of the spine
Without timely therapy, osteoarthritis will continue to progress slowly and may ultimately lead to the person being unable to perform the simplest self-care actions due to pain.
If the disease is at an initial stage, then doctors most often recommend wearing a support band, either the neck or the spine. Also, as auxiliary methods aimed at improving blood circulation, relieving pain symptoms and accelerating tissue regeneration, therapeutic massage, acupuncture courses, and electrical stimulation of nerves through the surface of the skin are used.
Prescription of certain food additives is possible, as well as the use of heat compresses, ozonokerite and paraffin wax applications. Therapeutic baths have proven themselves excellently: radon, hydrogen sulphide or simply based on sulfur. For the treatment of osteoarthritis, electrophoresis is performed with the following drugs: chymotrypsin, novocaine, sodium salicylate, analgin.
On the subject: Modern dietary supplements for the restoration of joints
A special therapeutic gymnastics is shown, which includes a set of not too active exercises.
To reduce pain, it is advised to take analgesics and muscle relaxants. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and hyaluronic acid derivatives can also be used successfully. Application of ointments and creams to the skin is often practiced. It will be useful to take vitamin complexes. It is imperative to properly equip the resting place. It is necessary to get rid of the old mattress, the new one must be firm, and the pillow must be chosen low.
On the subject: List of modern drugs and drugs for joints
Most often, the disease recedes, under the influence of complex therapy. But if the MRI shows severe abnormalities or, despite treatment, osteoarthritis progresses, then surgery will be necessary. But it should be borne in mind that those nerve fibers that have already been damaged cannot be restored. Therefore, the earlier the treatment is started, the more effective it will be.
In the following conditions, it is necessary to consult a doctor for a diagnosis:
- Neck or lower back pain.
- Tingling or tenderness in the limbs.
- Repeated occurrence of dizziness or headache of unclear etiology.
Specialists to be visited for diagnosis are a neurologist, neuropathologist and orthopedist.
Author of the article: Kaplan Alexander Sergeevich | Orthopedist
Education: diploma in the specialty "General Medicine" received in 2009 at the Medical Academy. I. M. Sechenov. In 2012 completed postgraduate studies in Traumatology and Orthopedics at the City Clinical Hospital named after Botkin at the Department of Traumatology, Orthopedics and Disaster Surgery.