Fever in osteochondrosis possible causes and diagnostic methods

Many people are interested in the question of whether there can be a temperature in osteochondrosis. On the one hand, fever indicates infectious, inflammatory or oncological diseases, to which osteochondrosis does not apply. On the other hand, many people with this pathology have a mild fever. Is this a dangerous phenomenon, what can it talk about?

We will find out whether there is a temperature in osteochondrosis, to what figures it can increase, what are the causes of a short fever that occurs against a background of spinal diseases.

Shishkevich Vladimir, orthopedic Shishkevich Vladimir, orthopedic and traumatologist, project editor-in-chief ExpertNews.

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Can the temperature increase with osteochondrosis

The term “osteochondrosis” combines the totality of dystrophic changes in the intervertebral discs (MTD) arising under the influence of traumatic factors or due to the natural aging of the body. The disease is non-inflammatory in nature and in itself cannot cause fever.

However, over time, osteochondrosis is complicated by spondylosis, spondylarthrosis, intervertebral hernias, etc. All this leads to a change in the distance between the vertebrae, narrowing of the spinal canal, and the formation of osteophytes. Pinched spinal roots or soft tissue injuries are often accompanied by the development of the inflammatory process and a slight increase in temperature.

Can there be a temperature in osteochondrosis? Yes, but it does not arise due to the disease itself, but as a result of the complications that have arisen. The cause may be non-specific or specific diseases of the spine.

Before talking about a rise in temperature, let’s find out its normal values. Many of you are sure that the norm is a thermometer 36,6. But it’s a little different: normal body temperature can be in the range of 36,5-37,2 degrees Celsius. By the way, its fluctuations throughout the day are absolutely physiological: by measuring the temperature in the evening, you can get higher numbers.

Osteochondrosis and a temperature of 37 degrees are normal for many people. If you do not have other disturbing symptoms, there is no point in being scared and worried.

Causes of a slight increase in body temperature

Sometimes with osteochondrosis, the temperature rises sharply to 37-38 degrees. Along with this, difficulties arise in flexion and extension of the spine, a feeling of stiffness, severe pain in the back, radiating to different parts of the body. Such symptoms usually indicate the development of non-specific complications of osteochondrosis. Let’s see what they are.

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Table 1. Non-specific diseases of the spine accompanied by a temporary increase in body temperature

Disease Features The reason for the temperature rise
Hernia MTD A sharp pain in the neck or lower back that occurs after lifting The inflammatory process in the MTD due to damage. Compression of a hernia of the spinal root
Spinal canal narrowing Low back pain, intermittent claudication, sensory and motor disorders in the lower extremities Pinched nerve roots before they exit the spinal cord canal
Radiculitis Sharp back pain radiating to the upper or lower limb. Symptoms appear after hypothermia or hard physical work. The inflammatory process in the spinal roots. An increase in temperature can provoke a concomitant colds
Inflammation of the muscles and / or ligaments Aching pain in the back, having a permanent character. Feeling of stiffness and numbness The development of the inflammatory process in spasmodic muscles or damaged ligaments

Is there a temperature with uncomplicated cervical or lumbar osteochondrosis? Yes, this happens with a prolonged course of the disease, accompanied by severe destructive processes in the spinal column. There are cases when people with osteochondrosis have maintained a temperature of 37,5 degrees for many months.

Herniated discs

MTD hernia is called the rupture of the fibrous ring of the disk with subsequent displacement of the pulpous nucleus. The cause may be weight lifting, a sharp clumsy movement or hard physical work. The formation of a hernia is usually accompanied by the development of an inflammatory process. Sometimes the spinal root is pinched, which leads to the appearance of neurological symptoms as well.

  • sharp sudden pain in the lower back, often radiating to the lower limb;
  • difficulties with flexion and extension of the spine;
  • weakness in the legs;
  • the inability to perform daily work, lead a familiar lifestyle.

Characteristic signs of a hernia MTD of the cervical spine:

  • neck pain extending to the back of the head and upper limb;
  • feeling of stiffness, numbness in the cervical region;
  • dizziness and headache;
  • slight increase in blood pressure;
  • numbness of the fingers, weakness in the upper limbs.

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Hernia of the thoracic region is manifested by painful sensations and limited mobility of the spine. Because of this, it becomes difficult for the patient to sit in the same position for a long time. Such hernias appear in people with scoliosis, kyphosis or kyphoscoliosis. The reason for their formation is an excessive load on the MTD due to curvature of the spine.

A sudden increase in temperature with osteochondrosis of the cervical and lumbar spine often indicates the presence of complications. When this symptom appears, you need to go to the doctor and undergo an examination.

Spinal stenosis

It develops mainly in the lumbosacral spine. The causes may be osteochondrosis, congenital malformations, ankylosing spondylitis, previous surgery on the spinal column. Stenosis of the spinal canal can lead to trauma to the nerve roots and the development of the inflammatory process in them.

  • the formation of intervertebral hernias;
  • displacement of the vertebrae relative to each other;
  • ossification of the yellow ligament;
  • proliferation of marginal osteophytes;
  • deformation of the intervertebral joints due to spondylarthrosis.

High temperature with osteochondrosis of the thoracic spine is an extremely alarming symptom. Protrusion, hernia, and pinched nerve roots in this section are very rare. Fever and chest pain may indicate tuberculosis or a spinal tumor.

The defeat of the nerve roots

Radiculitis can develop due to pinching of the spinal roots with MTD hernias. It can also be caused by hypothermia, acute intoxication, compression of the nerves with spasmodic muscles of the back or neck.

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With radiculitis, the temperature can rise to 37-37,2 degrees. If she rose above these numbers, a more serious pathology should be suspected. Under the mask of radiculitis, urolithiasis, pyelonephritis, glomerulonephritis, tumors or tuberculosis of the spine, rheumatic diseases, etc.

Do not confuse fever in cervical osteochondrosis with occipital neuralgia caused by hypothermia. The latter is manifested by severe pain in the back of the head and is often accompanied by headache, runny nose, cough and other colds.

Muscle and ligament inflammation

The inflammatory process can develop in ligaments or muscles on the background of long-term osteochondrosis complicated by spondylarthrosis or myofascial pain syndrome. Inflammation can spread from the affected intervertebral joints or develop in the muscles due to their constant spasm. Pathology is accompanied by aching pain and stiffness in the back.

High temperature for osteochondrosis

In 1-2% of cases, pain in the back and the appearance of fever are the result of specific diseases of the spine. These include tuberculous spondylitis, ankylosing spondylitis, malignant and benign neoplasms. In this case, the temperature rises above 37,8 degrees, other alarming symptoms appear.

The presence of specific diseases can be suspected in such cases:

  • the appearance of the first back pain at the age of less than 20 or more than 50 years;
  • a history of serious spinal injuries;
  • past cancer;
  • causeless weight loss;
  • cough, hemoptysis;
  • chronic pain, aggravating over time and not associated with physical activity;
  • pathological changes in blood tests;
  • the presence of vertebral destruction during X-ray examination of the spine;
  • lack of response to treatment for 1 month or more.

If the temperature rises for a long time above the permissible norm and there are disturbing symptoms, go to the hospital immediately. A timely visit to a doctor will help you identify life-threatening diseases on time and begin treatment as soon as possible.

What to do when the temperature rises

If you have a fever and back pain, you need to see a doctor anyway. He will examine you and prescribe the necessary studies. This will help determine the cause of the fever and make sure that there are no serious diseases.

The diagnostic program should include general clinical research. With their help, you can detect kidney disease, tuberculosis, rheumatological diseases, inflammatory processes in the body, etc.

Pathological changes in the spine can be detected using x-ray or magnetic resonance imaging. The first method is more affordable and cheaper, but uninformative. With its help, only far-reaching osteochondrosis complicated by spondylosis is revealed. Diagnosis of the disease in the early stages is possible only thanks to MRI, which allows you to see almost any changes in the MTD and intervertebral joints.

With a slight increase in body temperature, it makes no sense to take antipyretic drugs. Drugs from the NSAID group can be used to relieve vertebrogenic pain caused by complications of osteochondrosis. It is better to use them after consulting a doctor.

Vladimir Shishkevich

Orthopedic surgeon, traumatologist, vertebrologist. It specializes in the treatment of diseases in orthopedic, traumatological, vertebrological profiles. Diagnoses diseases of the musculoskeletal system, conducts treatment, monitors the healing process, recovery from injuries and operations, the application of immobilizing dressings, closed correction of dislocations and fractures.

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