As osteochondrosis progresses, not only vertebral structures, but also the nervous system are involved in the destructive degenerative process. A person develops nonspecific symptoms for the pathology of the musculoskeletal system. This is a debilitating cough, a sensation of the presence of a foreign object in the throat, pain in the heart. Dyspnea with osteochondrosis usually occurs with pathology of thoracic localization. The cause of an unpleasant, disturbing symptom is an increased muscle tone or deformation of the vertebrae and intervertebral discs.
Sometimes the feeling of lack of air is subjective, does not fully correspond to the processes occurring in the body. Oxygen enters the brain in sufficient quantities; all vital systems function optimally. But with a strong displacement of the vertebral structures, probably the disruption of the lungs, heart, and central nervous system increases significantly.
Clinical manifestations of dyspnea
Shortness of breath is an adaptive function of the body, which is expressed in a change in the frequency, rhythm and depth of breathing. With osteochondrosis, a person begins to breathe more often, trying to compensate for the lack of oxygen. The feeling of lack of air is variable and depends on the location of the damaged vertebral segments and the degree of their damage.
If intercostal neuralgia is associated with thoracic osteochondrosis, then a person has difficulty taking a deep breath. The cause is severe, sharp or dull, pressing pain. It arises as a result of intercostal muscle tension, radiating to the sides and lower abdomen. To maintain the necessary level of oxygen, the patient involuntarily breathes often and superficially.
With chest pathology, the innervation of the organs that are located in the middle part of the chest cavity (mediastinum) is upset. Therefore, the neurogenic symptoms of osteochondrosis accompanying shortness of breath are numerous and varied:
- a sensation of the presence of a foreign object in the throat (“lump” in the throat);
- persistent dry or wet cough;
- sore throat.
A “lump” in the throat may indicate esophageal dysfunction. Increased muscle tone and irritation of the sensitive nerve endings provoke a slower progression of the food lump. In some cases, this causes ulceration of the mucous membranes, which indirectly affects respiration.
Violation of the functioning of the diaphragm often occurs during relapses of cervical osteochondrosis due to irritation of the vagus nerve. At the initial stage, oxygen starvation is hardly noticeable. Shortness of breath occurs after physical exertion, which is considered natural. But soon its severity increases even after a short walk. Then other clinical manifestations of hypoxia are added:
- decrease in visual acuity and hearing;
- fatigue, weakness, drowsiness;
- headaches like migraine;
- dizziness, impaired coordination of movements;
- apnea, or short stop breathing in a dream;
- snoring at night;
- fingertips and nasolabial triangle take a bluish tint.
Yawning becomes a pronounced symptom of hypoxia – a reflex respiratory act. First, the patient takes a deep, long breath, and then a relatively quick exhale with his mouth wide open. In this way, the body tries to eliminate the deficiency of molecular oxygen in the systemic circulation and the brain.
Why shortness of breath occurs
At the doctor’s appointment, patients are often interested in whether there can be shortness of breath with breast osteochondrosis. But first, a feeling of lack of air often leads people to a cardiologist, otolaryngologist, but not to an orthopedist or vertebrologist. Undoubtedly, the cause of shortness of breath will be established, and the patient will go to a specialist of the appropriate profile. When choosing a therapeutic regimen, the doctor takes into account not only the presence of this specific symptom in the clinical picture. No less important is its pathogenesis. And breathing problems can occur for several reasons:
- impaired functioning of the diaphragm – an unpaired muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavities, which serves to expand the lungs;
- pains accompanying almost every deep breath;
- a disorder of the blood supply to the brain due to the slowed blood flow in the vessels of the cervical spine.
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The work of the diaphragm is frustrated due to damage, usually an infringement, of a nerve. It is located in the fourth cervical vertebra, which is why frequent dyspnea is associated with cervical pathology. Squeezing of the phrenic nerve also leads to hiccups, heart pain, discomfort in the right hypochondrium. The work of organs that this plexus of bundles of nerve fibers innervates is disrupted. The discomfort that occurs during contraction of the muscles of the diaphragm is often subjective. Developing persistent hypoxia can provoke a disorder of some functions of the central nervous system that regulates the work of the whole organism.
A common cause of dyspnea in thoracic osteochondrosis is an infringement of the sensitive nerve endings located in the area of damaged thoracic intervertebral discs and vertebrae. A person tries not to breathe fully, because when you inhale, severe pain immediately arises. Soreness also accompanies coughing, sneezing, loud laughter. Superficial, frequent breathing leads to a decrease in the content of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. And with a decrease in carbon dioxide pressure, the affinity of oxygen for hemoglobin increases, which makes it difficult to transfer oxygen from capillaries to tissues. The following symptoms occur:
- feeling short of breath;
- severe dizziness;
- imbalance, which can lead to a dangerous fall.
Shortness of breath in lesions of the cervical and upper thoracic vertebrae is also associated with the location of blood vessels near them, supplying blood to the brain. Oxygen deficiency causes respiratory depression. If this happens at night, then a situation arises that is dangerous to human life. Even short-term respiratory arrest can lead to irreversible complications due to the death of cells, including neurons.
Rarely, shortness of breath is observed with lumbosacral osteochondrosis. In this case, the cause of a lack of air becomes an increased tone of skeletal muscle. With the help of constant excess tension of striated muscles, the body tries to stabilize the position of the spine under static and dynamic loads. Common innervation predisposes to a disorder of the functioning of the diaphragm.
What is the danger of shortness of breath with osteochondrosis
Could there be shortness of breath with osteochondrosis – yes, but not all patients have a feeling of lack of air. Respiratory problems usually occur in overweight people or leading a sedentary lifestyle.
Dyspnea is more often diagnosed in patients with osteochondrosis, provoked by congenital or acquired abnormalities of the chest or spine, prior injuries.
A feeling of shortness of breath does not always mean that there is not enough oxygen in the body. In this case, shortness of breath is more likely to cause psychological discomfort, especially to people who are suspicious. Instead of going to the doctor, they can search for and find in themselves many diseases, most often fatal. Constant worries about your health provoke neurogenic clinical manifestations:
- psycho-emotional instability;
- sleep disorders;
- depressive states.
Shortness of breath with osteochondrosis of the thoracic or cervical spine is much more dangerous if it is a sign of oxygen starvation. In a state of prolonged hypoxia, the brain starts compensatory defensive processes to ensure vital activity in the absence of oxygen. Biologically active substances that increase the tone of blood vessels begin to be thrown into the systemic circulation. And this provokes constant jumps in blood pressure and heart palpitations.
In people with osteochondrosis of any localization, infectious pathologies of the upper and lower respiratory tract are more often diagnosed. The innervation disorder violates the evacuation of the mucous secretion from the bronchi, lungs, and larynx. Viscous sputum, firmly attached to the mucous membranes, stagnates, which predisposes to the growth and active reproduction of pathogenic microorganisms.
How to get rid of shortness of breath
Shortness of breath is only a symptom, therefore it can be eliminated during the treatment of osteochondrosis. Only after the cure of the underlying pathology does all its clinical manifestations disappear. Osteochondrosis refers to diseases that are not yet completely amenable to therapy. But with the help of the course administration of pharmacological drugs, it is possible to stop the spread of the destructive process, to reduce the severity of symptoms.
|Drugs that eliminate shortness of breath with osteochondrosis||Therapeutic action|
|Pentoxifylline, Trental, Niacin, Eufillin||They improve microcirculation, have an angioprotective, anti-aggregation effect. Expand blood vessels, have a stimulating effect on the respiratory center, increase the frequency and strength of heart contractions|
|Midokalm, Tolperizon, Sirdalud, Baclosan, Baclofen||They relax skeletal muscles, eliminate muscle cramps, and prevent infringement of the nerve roots and blood vessels.|
|Milgamma, Combilipen, Neurobion, Pentovit, Neuromultivit||Provide nutrition for the nerve cells of the body with glucose, normalize the conduct of nerve impulses, increase the ability of nerve tissues to regenerate|
To improve breathing during therapy, doctors recommend regular exercises in gymnastics and physical education, yoga, and swimming. Sleep can often be relieved by sleeping on an orthopedic mattress and pillow.
Shishkevich Vladimir, orthopedic and traumatologist, project editor-in-chief ExpertNews.
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