Back pain in osteochondrosis

Back pain is characteristic for osteochondrosis with localization in the lumbar spine.

The loin can hurt due to limited mobility
At the initial stage, patients feel only discomfort, which occurs mainly with prolonged sitting, sudden movements, slopes, after intense physical exertion. However, the disease progresses, and the pain becomes more intense and prolonged.

Back pain is often accompanied by the following symptoms:

restriction of mobility of the affected area of ​​the back;
spasms of lumbar muscles;
pain in the sacrum, buttocks;
a feeling of tingling, numbness, weakness;
pain in the legs;
violation of the functions of the pelvic organs.
With some types of movements (slopes, lifting, twisting of the trunk), painful sensations become much stronger. Many patients feel relieved when walking. Static postures (standing, sitting) leads to increased pain. Deterioration of the condition can be provoked even by coughing and sneezing. In the supine position, the load on the discs is reduced, so that the pain softens.

Acute pain

With osteochondrosis in the cervical, thoracic or lumbar regions, chronically painful sensations occur in the back area, alternating with episodes of severe pain. Experts believe that the aggravation is provoked by disturbances of micro-movements in the intervertebral discs, which trigger an inflammatory response. To stabilize the spine and reduce micromovements, there is a muscle spasm that blocks a certain segment. Spasms lead to acute pain and a sharp limitation of mobility.

Severe pain can last several hours, days or even months. In contrast to chronic, duration and intensity of which do not depend on the degree of tissue damage, acute pain clearly correlates with the degree of damage occurring, since it is a protective reaction of the body to limit mobility in the affected segment and reduce the degree of compression of the nerve roots.

Pain in the upper limbs

With osteochondrosis of the cervical region, pain in the hands is quite common. The nature of pain can vary depending on the specific localization of the lesion and the degree of compression of the nerve. They can be blunt, sharp, cutting, shooting. When coughing, straining, bending and tilting the head, the pain syndrome becomes worse.

C6 root injury provokes pain in the arm, extending over the outer surface of the shoulder from the forearm and the shoulder strap to the fingers (1 and 2). In the affected areas, sensitivity may increase (hyperesthesia), hypotrophy, contraction of the biceps brachialis reflexes.
If in the osteochondrosis the C7 spine is compressed, the pain spreads along the back and outer surface of the shoulder and forearm towards the 3-finger.
The defeat of the root of the spine leads to the spread of pain along the inner surface of the shoulder, the forearm to the 4 and 5 fingers.
Often simultaneously with pain in the hands of neurological symptoms: a feeling of numbness, tingling.

Chest pain

Pain can appear due to a deep breath
At the chest form of an osteochondrosis very often pains arise in a thorax. They can be long-lasting. Pain sensations are often shrouded, given under the shoulder blade and spread as intercostal neuralgia, which often makes diagnosis difficult. In the chest zone there is often a sensation of crawling. Pain in the chest can be given to the stomach, liver or heart. Despite the property of breast osteochondrosis to mask for other diseases, it can be “calculated” on the basis of several typical signs:

pains occur as a result of unsuccessful turn, sharp movement;
sensations become more intense with a deep inspiration-exhalation;
attempts to raise your hand lead to increased pain;
the slopes of the hull are difficult.
In the case of protrusion or hernia formation, the features of pain in the chest form of osteochondrosis are determined by the direction of the hernia.

With a lateral hernia pain sensations are localized at its level, are of a one-sided nature, local sensitivity loss is possible. The lateral hernia is accompanied by minimal symptomatology. Manifestations are reversible. Pain increases with movement, sneezing, coughing, and laughter.
The formation of the middle hernia leads to the appearance of longer, sometimes permanent pain sensations. The main risk is the probability of compression of the structures of the spinal cord.

Pain in the heart with osteochondrosis

Heart pain and asthmatic symptoms in the form of dyspnea often occur with osteochondrosis of the thoracic and cervical divisions. The examination does not reveal cardiac pathologies. Painful sensations can be quite long, without causing changes in the myocardium. Cardiac pains are a consequence of inflammation of the nerve roots innervating the organs located in the chest cavity. They have a number of differences from the true pains in the heart:

Pain syndrome can last from several weeks to several months.
The pain periodically intensifies (within 3-4 days), then again subsided.
They can not be stopped with the use of cardiac drugs.
Pain does not lead to anxiety, fear and does not pose a threat to life.
When the spine column is affected, the intensity of sensations increases.
The mechanisms of development of cardiac pain in osteochondrosis are as follows:

Violation of the innervation of the heart. In this case, pain sensations appear as a result of the spread of impulses to the center of sympathetic innervation of the cardiac muscle.
Reflex mechanism. Osteochondrosis leads to disruption of the innervation of the tissues of the shoulder girdle. As a result, receptors in these regions do not receive enough pulses and influence the innervation centers of the heart. From the side of the central nervous system, such impulses begin to be perceived as painful, which leads to the appearance of cardialgia.

A sore throat

With cervical osteochondrosis, pain sensations often irradiate into the throat area. Degeneration of intervertebral discs in the cervical region often leads to neurovegetative disorders. Since the neck serves as a support for the skull, it is responsible for the movement of the head. The inflammatory process in the nerve fibers provokes the pathological tension of the pharyngeal musculature. The result is the appearance of discomfort and pain in the throat. Since the intervertebral discs of the cervical region are characterized by lateral displacement, pinching of nerves, as a rule, is one-sided. This leads to the appearance of painful sensations mainly on one side.

Pain increases with swallowing, often resemble pain in angina.
Can be accompanied by a strong dry cough.
Patients also complain of a sharp soreness in the neck and an unpleasant sensation of a coma in the throat.
In later stages of osteochondrosis, sensations become permanent, intensified at night.
Although there is no objective interference with breathing and swallowing, patients are afraid to suffocate or choke with food. This leads to the development of neurasthenia, neurotic disorders, depression. Such conditions in turn increase pathological sensations. A kind of vicious circle is formed.

Pain in the eyes

Pain in the eyes

With osteochondrosis in the neck, eye pains are quite common. They are of a pulsating nature, accompanied by a decrease in visual acuity, double vision, the appearance of “flies” and circles before the eyes.

Ophthalmoscopy reveals the narrowing of the vessels of the retina, their sclerosis, and sometimes the swelling of the optic nerve discs. In 50% of cases the increase in intraocular pressure is fixed to 29-35 mm Hg. post. There is a suggestion that the cause of increased ophthalmotonus and the appearance of pain in osteochondrosis is hypothalamic insufficiency. Unlike glaucoma, there is no excavation in the optic nerve disc, and there is no significant drop in visual acuity.

Hydrodynamic parameters of the eye are observed with a vascular crisis. With cervical osteochondrosis, the onset of eye pain is often associated with increased pressure in the central artery of the retina – mainly on the side of the lesion.

Painful sensations in the eye can be a consequence of the vertebral artery syndrome: compression of a large vessel with strained muscles or deformed cartilage tissue leads to blood circulation disorders, increased pressure, including intracranial, and the appearance of pain in the head, often radiating into the eyes, forehead, ears.

Pain in the neck

With the development of the pathological process in the cervical region, there are four main syndromes:

Local neck pain (cervicalgia).
Reflex (reflected) pain in the neck and arm – cervical brachialgia, pain in the neck and head (cervicocranium).
Radicular syndrome caused by squeezing or irritation of the spinal roots.
Cervical myelopathy.
Cervicalgia in osteochondrosis manifests itself in the form of permanent and paroxysmal pains in the neck. In acute form they are very strong, “shoot through”, sometimes they become blunt, drilling and almost always concentrate in the depth of the neck. As a rule, unpleasant sensations are localized on one side, are more pronounced in the mornings, accompanied by tension of the neck muscles and restriction of mobility. Increase when sneezing, coughing, sudden movements, hypothermia.

With reflex syndrome, pain is reflected in the arm or head. The cause of pain and muscle tension is the defeat of the facet joints and intervertebral discs.

With cervical osteochondrosis, the pain in the hand becomes the result of a pathological lesion of the lower and mid-spine sections of the spine.

Radiculopathy (radicular syndrome) with lesions of the cervical region is less common than with the lumbar form of the disease. The reason lies in the features of the cervical department. The number of nerve roots here is more than the number of vertebrae (eight and seven, respectively). Each of the cervical nerves goes over the corresponding vertebra (the first pair of roots – between the first cervical vertebra and the base of the skull, the second – in the interval between the first and second cervical vertebrae, etc.). When any of the rootlets are affected, characteristic disturbances occur:

motor (in the form of muscle weakness);
Sensitive (eg, hypalgesia);
Reflex (reduction of tendon and skin reflexes).
The defeat of the spinal cord (myelopathy) in most cases is a consequence of the formation of hernial protrusions and osteophytes in osteochondrosis. Typical complaints of patients are pain and a feeling of weakness in the arms and legs. When the head moves, the pain becomes strong, “shooting” (it is felt as the passage of an electric current from the cervical region into the arms and along the spinal column to the legs).

Specificity of pain in the lumbar form of the disease

With osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine, the following are possible:

pain in the lower back, leading to a significant limitation of mobility of the lower spine, problems with flexion-extension of the back;
pain in the sacrum;
painful sensations in the lower limbs along the outer or inner surface of the thighs, shins, back of the foot, in the foot;
pain in the gluteal muscles;
pain in the organs of the small pelvis, accompanied by a violation of their functioning.
Strengthening of unpleasant sensations in the loin is often provoked by increased physical exertion, prolonged exposure in an uncomfortable static posture, abrupt movements, lifting of weights.


Their occurrence is due to several factors. The main ones are:

Muscle spasm, arising as a response to acute pain in the neck. The body tries to protect the damaged part of the spine by restricting movement in it. The goal is achieved by increased tension of the neck muscles. At the same time, painful sensations cover the temples, the back of the head, and the posterior parietal region. The pain is of a reflected nature, because of which the use of traditional analgesics for their removal is ineffective.

Headaches appear due to muscle spasm
Syndrome of the vertebral artery, resulting from the compression of large vessels located in the holes of the transverse processes of the vertebrae. At the same time, irritation of nerve fibers that fly through these vessels occurs, which provokes the development of severe pain. Arterial pressure also leads to disruption of the functioning of cerebral vessels, insufficient supply of nerve cells with oxygen and frequent changes in pressure.
Headache with osteochondrosis of the cervical region often has a bursting character and can be strengthened with any movements of the head or eyes. In a number of cases, it is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensation of weakness throughout the body. Sometimes the pains are blunt, pressing, arise from time to time or are present all the time.

A particular phenomenon in the cervical osteochondrosis is the so-called “cervical migraine,” a feature of which is the one-sided localization of pain sensations (this makes it similar to the classical form of migraine).

To relieve pain, the cervical spine is provided with maximum rest. From medicines used warming ointments and muscle relaxants: the elimination of muscle spasm and increased blood flow to the cervical region contribute to the alleviation of symptoms.

Mechanism of the onset of pain syndrome

Pain may appear due to a crack in the disk
The development of the pathological process leads to the loss of intervertebral discs of elasticity and damping qualities. When the disease progresses, disks appear in the discs, the fibrous ring begins to bulge. Over time, hernias can form. Next to the intervertebral discs are nerve sprouts, blood vessels, spinal cord. Deformed vertebrae and hernia traumatize the nerve processes, which leads to their inflammation and provokes back pain, often radiating to other parts of the body.

The physiological mechanism of the pain syndrome in osteochondrosis is not fully understood. In a simplified form, it can be represented in the following form: the skin contains many nerve endings that react to any stimuli: injections, pressure, chemical factors, etc. Intensive exposure causes tissue damage, leading to irritation of the endings of nerve fibers – pain receptors. Signals from them are transmitted in the dorsal, and then in the brain, perceiving them as pain. Sensations in this case arise both in damage to nerve receptors and in damage to the nerves. The nature, localization and perception of pain vary depending on a number of factors. For example: degenerative changes lead to the infringement of the spinal nerve in the lumbar region, and the pain is felt in the foot – where the nerve begins. If the patient is concentrated on his feelings, besides is in a state of despair or depression, the pain can be subjectively perceived as more acute.

The nature of the pain syndrome

Pain in the early stage of osteochondrosis is rare and does not differ in high intensity. As the disease develops, they appear more often and can become permanent and strong enough.

For later stages, acute and chronic pain, stiffness in the back, limitation of movements are characteristic. Patients feel constant fatigue. Expressed painful sensations, often giving in the limbs, appear when the nerve root is compressed. Patients may feel tingling, numbness. Often this condition is accompanied by muscle weakness and atrophy.

Painful sensations in case of cervical damage

With cervical osteochondrosis:

  • pain in the neck;
  • headache;
  • facial pain;
  • pain in the hands, often accompanied by numbness of the fingers;
  • pain in the shoulder joint with limited mobility;
  • cardialgia.