Headache with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine-one of the first signs that may indicate the development of the disease. At first they appear paroxysmal and then permanent, accompanied by a sudden deterioration in well-being, rigidity of movements, and fainting. It is important to understand that without proper therapy, the disease can progress and cause dangerous consequences.
Osteochondrosis - definition and mechanism of development
Osteochondrosis- chronic progressive disease of the spine. During the examination, there is a gradual destruction of the cartilage and deformation of the bone segments. The cervical spine consists of six vertebrae - sections of bone connected by ribbons. To absorb shock during movement, head rotation, and tilting, the intervertebral cartilages are located between adjacent vertebrae. The vertebral arteries and nerves go through special holes that point to the brain, and protecting them from damage is one of the functions of the cervical spine.
In osteochondrosis, the cartilage tissue of the intervertebral discs loses its elasticity. The main reason for this is the insufficient supply of blood and nutrients in the cartilage tissue of the intervertebral discs. This process can be linked to age-related changes, insufficient blood supply to cartilage, and the consequences of joint injuries and inflammatory diseases. Intervertebral discs are thin and not flexible enough, so they are not able to be absorbed in motion. This leads to decreased neck mobility, painful feelings, and compression of nerves and blood vessels passing through this area. The process progresses as the cervical spine is the most agile and the muscle ligament is weak.
Causes of headache in osteochondrosis of the cervical spine
Cervical osteochondrosis- a common disease in both the elderly and the young. Limited movement of the neck in whole or in a certain direction, accompanied by impaired hearing or vision, and acute headaches. These symptoms appear in the early stages of the disease and do not develop over time.
In osteochondrosis of the cervix, headache is associated with a number of pathological changes:
- decrease in lumen between adjacent vertebrae of the cervical spine;
- compression of nerves and blood vessels entering the brain;
- insufficient blood supply to brain cells;
- deformity of bone tissue, formation of growths, fusion of vertebrae - the mechanism of adaptation of the body against bone wear during movement.
Osteochondrosis headache can only occur with damage to the cervical spine. In this area, arteries and nerves pass through, which carry blood to the brain and participate in its innervation. With the defeat of the chest and lumbar regions, no headache occurs. However, the disease is most often diagnosed in this area because it is the most motile and the supporting muscle ligament is poorly developed. Poor posture, prolonged sitting, lack of physical activity or, conversely, too intense loads without adequate warm-up contribute to the rapid development of osteochondrosis at any age.
The nature of the pain caused by osteochondrosis
Headache in osteochondrosis is a symptom that can be identified even in the absence of neck damage. It is impossible to make a definitive diagnosis based on the examination alone. There are several possibilities for osteochondrosis headaches, depending on the cause:
- when the vertebral artery is constricted - the pain is similar to a migraine, often covering only one half of the head;
- when it tightens the roots of the spinal nerves - throbbing, acute, growing during turns and tilting of the head;
- chronic headache - is associated with ischemia, lack of oxygen and nutrients in certain areas of the brain.
In osteochondrosis, headaches are often accompanied by additional symptoms. The most important are neck stiffness, muscle cramps and discomfort. In addition, the patient may experience numbness in the hands and cause a tingling sensation in the skin of the palm. Insufficient blood supply to the brain impairs hearing and vision and makes it difficult to coordinate movements. In addition, sensitivity to strong light and loud sounds, tactile stimuli, is increased. These signs disappear after blood circulation is restored.
Headaches associated with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine are symptoms for which it is difficult to make an accurate diagnosis. To begin treatment, the location of the problem area, the stage of the disease, and the pathological changes caused by the disease must be determined. This requires a series of tests, including:
- MRI of the head is one of the most informative and accurate diagnostic methods for assessing the condition of brain tissue;
- MRI of the cervical spine is an easy way to get an accurate picture of all the abnormalities that appear in this area (thinning and decreased elasticity of cartilage between the joints, overgrowth of the joint surfaces of the bones;
- Doppler ultrasound examination of the vessels of the neck and head is performed with the addition of contrast material to monitor cerebral blood flow and to identify areas of the brain suffering from ischemia.
Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis headache
Treatment of headache in cervical osteochondrosis is symptomatic. Seizures can also be treated at home, but continue to manifest. It is important to understand that osteochondrosis is a chronic, progressive disease, and it is impossible to completely restore the structure of the affected spine. The goal of therapy is to slow further destruction of the vertebrae, restore normal blood supply and innervation, and get rid of pain and other unpleasant symptoms.
Most patients are prescribed a comprehensive treatment regimen for osteochondrosis. Painkillers can also be taken at home, but the headache recurs. It is important to find an effective medication that affects not only the symptoms but also the causes of the headache. Starting treatment on time keeps the spine at the same level and prevents further deterioration of well-being.
Doctors can prescribe several medications to relieve headaches in cervical osteochondrosis:
- non-hormonal anti-inflammatory drugs - relieves pain and relieves inflammation of the joints (ibuprofen);
- muscle relaxants - a group of drugs that relieve muscle cramps, thereby improving blood circulation in the vertebral arteries (tolperisone hydrochloride);
- vasodilators - needed for high blood pressure and to eliminate vasospasm (magnesium sulphate);
- Nootropics are another category of drugs selected to improve blood circulation in brain cells.
If osteochondrosis hurts the head and neck, medications can be prescribed in the form of tablets or injections, as well as in the form of an ointment. Gels with a warming component and anti-inflammatory effect are useful to improve blood circulation and cartilage nutrition. They stimulate blood circulation and regeneration processes, thus maintaining the condition of the spine at the time of disease exacerbation.
Treating headaches in osteochondrosis involves a number of techniques that strengthen the cervical spine, preventing the compression of important nerves and arteries. Special exercises for shaping the muscle ligament and physical and other methods of influencing the affected area. They are prescribed in combination with drug therapy and are administered several times.
- Physiotherapy exercises - simple exercises to strengthen muscles and ligaments, increase their flexibility. Warm-up consists of turns and bends, circular movements of the head. Then alternately place your palms on your forehead, temples, and headrest. The head tilts to the side of the hand and the palm resists. You can do exercises at home in the morning and evening, providing physical education for at least 20-30 minutes a day.
- Massage is an effective technique that helps relieve severe headaches in osteochondrosis and prevents the disease from progressing. You can do a self-massage at home, kneading the muscles of the back and side surfaces of the neck as well as the trapezius muscles. It is helpful to participate in therapeutic massage sessions that are performed in 5-10 procedures. The course is repeated every 4-5 months.
- Physiotherapy is a set of techniques that a physician may prescribe to improve the well-being of patients with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine. This may include magnetotherapy, electrophoresis, paraffin application and other exposure methods. External influences allow blood to flow faster to the injured area, improving the nutrition and oxygen supply to the injured vertebral discs. In addition, healing processes are activated at the cellular level, which prevents the disease from progressing further.
Attending regular exercises, massages and physiotherapy sessions will help get rid of severe osteochondrosis headaches. The main condition is to carry out the entire procedure. These are performed at intervals of several days to a week and can take up to 10 sessions to achieve maximum impact. During treatment, we note the ease of movement, the absence of headaches and other symptoms, and the improvement in concentration and performance. However, it is important to note that osteochondrosis is a chronic disease, so the procedures are repeated every 4 to 6 months.
Surgical treatment of osteochondrosis
The operation is prescribed only in cases where conservative treatment is ineffective. This occurs in advanced cases when the patient is associated with fusion of adjacent vertebrae or the formation of osteophytes - bone growths on the joint surfaces of the bones. These changes lead to constant headaches, neck stiffness, and chronic ischemia of certain parts of the brain. There are several ways to do this:
- removal of abnormal growths on the surface of the vertebrae that prevent them from participating in movement;
- joining adjacent vertebrae to reduce nerve and blood vessel compression;
- replacement of the damaged segment with an implant.
Surgical intervention is decided individually. It should be understood that this is a complex operation that requires a long recovery period. It is not performed at an early stage because there is no risk to the patient’s health.
In cervical osteochondrosis, the symptoms and treatment of headache are related to the mechanism of disease development. Injuries are one of the causes, but the pathological process can also manifest itself in a healthy person. Doctors recommend that you use the right habits from an early age to help maintain cervical spine health and prevent dangerous diseases from developing:
- proper posture while walking and working with the monitor is a key condition for even spinal loading;
- moderate physical activity - even a healthy person can benefit from simple daily exercises that strengthen and increase the flexibility of the muscles and ligaments of the neck;
- a properly chosen mattress and pillow helps to avoid nerve pinching and ischemia of brain cells during sleep;
- avoid electrical strain in everyday life - do not try to carry weights in uncomfortable bags and sacks;
- for those doing sedentary work - regular breaks for a little warm-up;
- in the cold season - wearing a scarf.