Cervical osteochondrosis in women

A woman has osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine (CS) is one of the most common pathologies of the musculoskeletal system. Each year, doctors diagnose this disease more and more often, and it progresses more and more severely. According to statistics, in women degenerative-dystrophic changes in the upper part of the spine occur more often, especially in postmenopausal patients. The main symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis in women are pain, limited mobility, insufficient cerebral circulation, which is dangerous not only for health, but also for life. To protect yourself from the dangerous consequences of pathology, you need to start treating it at the early stages. It is important to carry out complex therapy, make lifestyle changes in order to stop the destruction of vertebral segments and prevent serious complications.

Disease development

The cervical spine is most vulnerable to various injuries and degenerative changes. This is because this segment is the most mobile and the muscles in it are weak. The small cervical vertebrae resist strong stresses on a daily basis, which leads to the gradual destruction of the intervertebral discs. The vertebrae press against each other, which is why the cartilage pads between them lose a lot of fluid, begin to degrade and deform.

In addition, osteochondrosis of the cervical spine develops due to insufficient nutrition of cartilage tissue. And the spinal canal in this area is narrow, so it is often pinched, which causes neurological symptoms.

Pathology in women in the early stages is manifested by heaviness in the back of the head, tingling in the hands, etc. Often, patients confuse the first signs of the disease with overwork.

A large number of blood vessels and nerve roots are located in the neck area, and when compressed, neurological disorders can also occur. This is especially dangerous if a deformed disc or vertebrae compress the vertebral artery, which supplies important parts of the brain. When compressed, coordination of movement is disturbed, a woman may lose her balance, her vision and hearing deteriorate, and the risk of stroke increases.

Reference.According to statistics, cervical osteochondrosis is most often found in patients aged 25-40 years. This is due to a 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 thinner bone tissue.

Doctors distinguish 4 stages of osteochondrosis SHOP:

  • Step 1- the intervertebral disc loses a little moisture, its height decreases, cracks may appear on the fibrous ring (outer shell). This is the stage of cervical chondrosis, which is difficult to identify because it has unexpressed symptoms. The neck quickly gets tired, there is discomfort, heaviness in the damaged area, sometimes there is a slight pain that passes quickly.
  • 2nd step- the cracks on the surface of the disc increase, the nucleus pulposus (gel-like content of the disc) is displaced, may protrude through the damaged areas. This is how the protuberance of the cartilage lining appears, which can compress the spinal cord and its roots. Periodically, severe pain, weakness, limited mobility, numbness of the face, neck, shoulders and arms may occur.
  • Step 3- the protuberance crosses the outer envelope of the disc, which forms a hernia. The pain becomes more pronounced, neurological disorders are present.
  • Step 4- the disc is almost completely destroyed, the vertebrae rub against each other, bone growths (osteophytes) appear on their edges, which are intended to stabilize the damaged segment. Nerve endings, spinal cord, blood vessels are altered. Adjacent gaskets are starting to be damaged. The clinical signs are pronounced.

Degenerative-dystrophic changes in the first two stages of SHOP osteochondrosis are easier to stop. In stage 3, complex treatment will help stop further destruction of the spinal segment. At the last stage, you can not do without surgery.

Causes

SHOP osteochondrosis is a complex and lengthy process that usually 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 injury or due to the body's natural aging and weakening of its defenses.

Doctors identify the main causes of SHOP osteochondrosis in women:

  • Disruption of metabolic processes.
  • Passive lifestyle.
  • Genetic predisposition.
  • Chronic muscle tension around the cervical segment.
  • Curvature of posture.
  • Deficiency of fluids and nutrients in the body.
  • Prolonged stay in an uncomfortable position (neck stretched forward and back arched).
  • Excessive weight.
  • Frequent wearing of high-heeled shoes.
  • SHOP injuries.
  • Lift heavy objects.
  • Autoimmune pathologies.
  • Frequent stress, chronic fatigue.
  • Hypothermia.
  • Infectious diseases.
  • Neck too long or too short, etc.

All these factors cause malnutrition of the intervertebral discs and lead to their degeneration.

Female cervical osteochondrosis can be caused by pathologies of the vertebral 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, along with 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 support of the vertebrae in this area.

Symptoms

For osteochondrosis, a wave-like course is characteristic, when the acute period is replaced by remission. The exacerbation can cause infections, injuries, hypothermia, prolonged stress on the neck.

With cervical osteochondrosis, the pain radiates to the shoulder

The first signs of cervical osteochondrosis in women are headaches, discomfort, heaviness in the neck. It is important to distinguish over time pain from chondrosis from migraines or autonomic dysfunction.

The clinical manifestations of SHOP osteochondrosis in women are due to neurological syndromes:

  • Cervical dyscalgiaoccurs when nerve endings are irritated by fragments of a damaged cartilage wall. Then there is a specific cracking in the neck, pain, which becomes more pronounced during head movement and after sleep.
  • Scalene syndromebecomes a consequence 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 hand on the injured side. The limb becomes pale, cool, edematous, numbness occurs. Neck pain extends to the back of the head when the patient turns their head.
  • Shoulder-scapular periarthritis 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 tilted to the affected side, and the shoulder is slightly lowered.
  • Vertebral 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, sometimes vomiting. The pain is localized in the occiput, crown and temples.
  • Cardiac- the nerve bundles of the spinal cord are damaged. There is heartache, arrhythmia. If C3 is damaged, pain appears in the half of the neck, the tongue swells, the patient cannot normally chew food. If C4 is injured, discomfort appears in the shoulder girdle, collarbone, heart. With the defeat of C5, the painful reaction from the neck extends to the shoulder girdle, the inner surface of the shoulder. C6 irritation manifests as pain from the neck and scapula 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 hand, including the index and middle fingers. When C8 is squeezed, the pain spreads from the affected area to the elbow and little finger.

In addition, the emotional sphere of a woman can be disturbed, weakness appears, she becomes anxious, susceptible. Insomnia often occurs, memory and attention are impaired due to regular headaches.

Symptoms of stroke appear when a woman suddenly throws her head back, tilts it, or does work that puts a load on her arms and cervical spine, such as when she digs, paints the ceiling, and carriesweights.

Violation of cerebral circulation is manifested by dizziness, a 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 migraines, increased body sweating in the area between the neck and the shoulder girdle. When the vertebral artery is compressed, the work of the cardiovascular system is disturbed.

If the disease lasts for a long time, then there is a circulatory failure of important centers that perform neuroendocrine functions. Due to the increased permeability of the vascular walls, atherosclerosis of the cerebral and cardiac arteries develops.

Establish the diagnosis

If you notice any symptoms of osteochondrosis, see a therapist. After a visual examination, a specialist will refer you to an orthopedist, a vertebrologist or a neurologist.

To diagnose cervical osteochondrosis, the following methods are used:

  • The x-ray makes it possible to know that the patient has moved vertebrae, osteophytes are present on their edges, the distance between the vertebrae has decreased, etc. For this, the study is carried out in different plans. To detail the characteristic changes, the doctor takes observational photos.
  • CT of the cervical spine provides detailed information about pathological changes in the vertebrae. This method allows 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 is used to check the conduction of a nerve fiber.

In addition, doctors may order a Doppler ultrasound (Doppler ultrasound of the large arteries in the brain) to determine the status of blood flow in that area.

Conservative treatment

In the early stages, treatment for osteochondrosis of SHOP in women can be done at home. However, the doctor must establish a treatment regimen. It is important to understand that this is a long process and that it is unlikely that you will be able to fully recover from it (especially for older women).

The complex treatment includes:

  • To take pills.
  • Use of orthopedic devices.
  • Physiotherapy.
  • Physiotherapy procedures.
  • Massage, manual impact.
  • Alternative treatments.

Conservative techniques will help stop pain, inflammation, normalize muscle tone, improve metabolic processes, nutrition of damaged segments of the spine, etc. With timely treatment, it is possible to stop pathological changes.

Medicines for cervical osteochondrosis will help get rid of inflammation and pain

Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis in women is carried out with the help of drugs that will help improve the metabolism of the cartilage mucous membranes between the vertebrae, stop inflammation and pain. For this purpose, the following drugs are used:

  • NSAIDs. May help relieve mild to moderate inflammation and pain.
  • Analgesics. The pain is relieved.
  • Preparations for improving cerebral circulation.
  • Muscle relaxants - help relieve muscle spasms.
  • Chondroprotectors. They help to stop the destruction of discs, improve metabolic processes and speed up recovery.
  • Magnesium-based drugs.
  • Nootropics. They stimulate the work of the brain by normalizing its blood circulation, have a slight sedative effect.

Reference.For severe pain that is not relieved by oral medications, therapeutic blockages are used.

Treatment can be supplemented with anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers in the form of gels, creams and ointments. They will be effective in the remission stage or in combination with oral agents.

The decision on the choice of drug combinations is taken by the doctor. The specialist will draw up a schedule for taking medications and also determine their dosage. It is important to follow its recommendations, since many of the above drugs threaten dangerous complications.

In the acute stage of SHOP osteochondrosis, a woman must give up heavy physical activity. To relieve the cervical segment, you need to wear a special corset (Shants collar), which will fix the vertebrae in the correct position. This device is recommended for use during prolonged or strenuous sedentary physical work.

Physiotherapy procedures will help relieve pain and improve blood circulation to the damaged area:

  • Diadynamic therapy.
  • Magnetotherapy.
  • Electrophoresis.
  • Electroanalgesia.
  • Ultraviolet irradiation, etc.

The therapeutic effect manifests itself after about the third session, then headaches, hearing disturbances, visual disturbances, dizziness, sleep normalizes or disappears, and the general condition improves.

With the help of underwater traction of the cervical segment, it is possible to increase the distance between the vertebrae, release a nerve or blood vessel from compression, and restore the normal position of the vertebrae.

Massage will normalize muscle tone, reduce the flow of lymph fluid, which causes swelling. After several sessions, blood circulation in the damaged area improves.

Therapeutic gymnastics is an effective way to treat cervical osteochondrosis

Therapeutic gymnastics is one of the most effective methods of treating SHOP osteochondrosis. Exercise therapy allows you to strengthen weak muscles in the neck, which then take some of the load from the spine and help to stop or slow down degenerative-dystrophic changes. During classes, blood circulation improves, metabolic processes, nutrition of discs are accelerated, which has a positive effect on their condition.

Women should 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 can be done at home, but only with the permission of the doctor. Physiotherapy exercises are carried out only at the stage of remission.

Complex treatment can be supplemented with reflexology (acupuncture), hirudotherapy (leech therapy), swimming, etc.

Operation

The operation is prescribed in the later stages of SHOP osteochondrosis, which is accompanied by severe destruction of the osteochondral structures. In addition, surgery is essential if conservative techniques are ineffective or if 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 was compressing the spinal nerve. Then the vertebrae, between which the disc was removed, are fused. If necessary, the space between the vertebrae is filled with a synthetic insert (cage).

After 3-5 days, the patient is sent home. The rehabilitation period is approximately 12 weeks. To speed up recovery, you need to take medication, wear a brace, lead a healthy lifestyle, undergo physiotherapy procedures, and possibly exercise.

Lifestyle recommendations

To quickly get rid of the unpleasant symptoms of osteochondrosis and stop degenerative-dystrophic changes in the cervical segment, you need to adjust your lifestyle. To do this, the patient should follow these recommendations:

  • Take daily walks, avoid running, jumping and other explosive activities.
  • Heavy objects should not be transported.
  • You can not sit still for a long time, in extreme cases wear a corset and periodically assume a horizontal position.
  • Perform specific physical exercises for the back muscles at home.
  • Sleep on an orthopedic mattress and a special pillow.
  • Follow a diet, replenish the diet with foods rich in magnesium, calcium (nuts, dairy products, seafood, legumes), as well as vegetable fibers, mucopolysaccharides (jelly meat, jelly). Refuse fatty, fried, too salty foods, alcohol. The doctor will advise you in more detail on the nutritional rules. 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.

Complications

In the absence of timely treatment of cervical osteochondrosis, a woman can experience the following pathological consequences:

  • The probability of protrusion, which after some time turns into a hernia. The bulge compresses the spinal cord as well as its nerves, causing neurological damage.
  • Osteophytes appear when the disc is severely damaged; they irritate the spinal nerves and blood vessels.
  • In advanced cases, a strong weakening of the muscles of the neck or incomplete paralysis is possible, then the head involuntarily hangs to the side or forward.
  • Compression of the vertebral arteries, impaired blood circulation in the affected area. This condition can cause neuralgia (pain along the path of a nerve), hearing and visual impairment.
  • Paralysis (incomplete or complete) of the hands.
  • Stroke, etc.

If a woman treats the problem in the early stages of osteochondrosis SHOP, then she will be able to prevent the above conditions.

Preventive measures

Ideally, it is necessary to engage in the prevention of osteochondrosis of SHOP even during the period of intrauterine development. The future mother should exclude factors that negatively affect the development of the fetus: infections, lack of oxygen, intoxication. If a birth injury has occurred, the newborn must be treated.

To reduce the risk of developing SHOP osteochondrosis, a woman should follow these recommendations:

  • Load the spine evenly, for example, carry the load with both hands or take turns right then left.
  • Don't lift too much weight yourself.
  • Try to avoid neck injuries, hypothermia.
  • When working on garden plots, take a break every 1. 5 hours, rest for 20 minutes.
  • Choose shoes with cushioned soles that will cushion impacts when 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 well, control weight, avoid stress, take vitamin preparations for medical reasons, treat pathologies that can cause osteochondrosis in time. At the stage of remission, it is recommended to visit sanatoriums for treatment.

Most important

As you can see, in women osteochondrosis of the cervical spine occurs more often than in men, because the former have more fragile vertebrae and thinner bone tissue. The patient's pathology is particularly sensitive in the postmenopausal period. The disease manifests itself in pain, neurological disorders and dangerous symptoms of stroke. It is recommended to start treatment at an early stage to avoid the dangerous complications of osteochondrosis. For this, a woman needs to take medication, adjust her lifestyle, undergo physiotherapy procedures, massage herself, do physiotherapy, etc. Surgical treatment is only indicated in advanced cases. To prevent pathology, you need to observe moderate physical activity, timely treat injuries and diseases that can cause osteochondrosis, etc.