It often happens that we succumb to common judgments in society and turn a blind eye to the real facts. And in this case, medicine gets the most.
Medicine is constantly developing, is in search of new solutions, so it is not surprising that there are hypotheses that eventually become obsolete. However, substitution very often happens, and their place is taken by pseudoscientific judgments, which, however, are very similar to the truth. Together with a neurologist, PhD, head of the “Clinical Center of Autonomic Neurology” Elena Belenko, we decided to dispel the most popular misconceptions about certain diseases, so as not to be led by them.
Myth #1: “Vegetative vascular dystonia (VSD) “it’s a disease”
The diagnosis of “vegetative vascular dystonia” is well known to everyone. The paradox lies in the fact that a diagnosis with such a formulation has long been absent in the modern classification of the disease. The fact of its correctness is often revised, but in the public consciousness, VSD continues to proudly exist as a disease – and not only among patients, but also among doctors.
This diagnosis is made incorrect primarily by the word “vascular”, which immediately suggests that we are talking about problems directly with the vessels. However, this is not the case. This diagnosis was made with suspicion of a violation of the autonomic nervous system. In turn, doctors abandoned this component, since not only the vessels, but also all systems of internal organs are under the control of the autonomic nervous system. Consequently, in the picture of the disease there will be not only a violation of the functioning of blood vessels, but also, for example, complaints about the malfunction of the heart, stomach or intestines.
Secondly, very often we put an equal sign between the diagnosis and the disease. In other words, according to this logic, if there is no diagnosis, there can be no disease. However, this is a very dangerous misconception. The autonomic nervous system can get sick, just like any other part of the human body. Such a disease often does not pose any threats to life, but significantly reduces its quality, bringing discomfort and limiting development opportunities. The modern formulation of the diagnosis is somatoform dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, or autonomic dystonia syndrome.
Myth #2: “Nerve cells don’t regenerate”
Another common misconception. In reality, nerve cells are able to recover, both with structural and functional damage.
Structural damage — that is, the destruction of the cell itself – occurs in a situation of trauma, or in the event of a vascular catastrophe (stroke). In this case, the cell is restored gradually, contributing to the return of the lost abilities to the patient. Thanks to the process of neuroplasticity, intact areas of the brain take over the tasks of those cells that have collapsed. It is this mechanism that helps a person to return to a full life as soon as possible.
Functional damage to a nerve cell, that is, the loss of its “duties”, is also an absolutely reversible process. In particular, we are talking about the cells of the autonomic nervous system. In this case, nerve cells and nerve structures cannot ensure the normal functioning of blood vessels and internal organs. This can happen for various reasons, including after severe emotional stress. Regardless of the causes of the damage, the return of health is possible, since the restoration of the cell is provided genetically, that is, laid down by nature. All that a person needs in such a situation is the competent help of a neurologist.
Myth #3: “Osteochondrosis of the spine must be treated”
Osteochondrosis is a godsend when taking pictures of the spine on X-rays or computed tomography. That is, it is, in fact, an X-ray diagnosis, not a clinical one. Most people will have osteochondrosis described during the examination, but not everyone will have a complaint of back pain.
Osteochondrosis is a natural aging process of the body. Already at the age of 20, such changes can be detected, but back pain may appear at an earlier age, when osteochondrosis will not be in the pictures yet. There are quite a lot of causes of back pain, and perhaps they will not even be related to the back itself. For example, the so-called “reflected” pains that are caused by diseases of internal organs (for example, liver or kidneys) will manifest as back pain. Therefore, you should not prescribe treatment for yourself without a preliminary examination by a doctor. This will save you time, money and save you from unnecessary worries.
Myth #4: “A herniated disc must be operated/surgically removed”
According to scientific studies, back pain returned in most patients after surgical removal of herniated discs. The issue is quite complex and the decision on surgical intervention may not always be justified.
Firstly, there are clear criteria and indications for making a decision on the surgical treatment of a hernia. Moreover, the size of the hernia does not apply to these criteria. It can be large in size and at the same time not touch the nerve root in any way. Or maybe on the contrary — a small, but at the same time a typical picture of nerve suffering and pain.
Secondly, the very presence of a hernia should not disturb the patient. It is not necessary that the hernia will sooner or later manifest itself as back pain. At the same time, linking the appearance of pain with the presence of a hernia can only lead away from making a correct diagnosis.
And, again, according to scientific data, over time, hernias can decrease in size or even disappear on their own.
Myth #5: “Migraine is any severe and frequent headache”
Currently, medicine knows more than 20 types of headaches. According to the frequency of occurrence, migraine is in second place. At the same time, of course, it is the most popular in the philistine sense. You can often hear: “My head hurts so much, I have a migraine” or “I’m worried that my headaches may turn into a migraine, it hurts so much and often.”
However, here it is necessary to understand that migraine is a hereditary disease and a headache definitely cannot “go” into a migraine. Quite a large number of types of headache differ from each other in localization (place of pain), nature, strength, frequency of occurrence and various concomitant manifestations. Therefore, only a specialist can accurately identify the root cause of your headache and prescribe competent treatment.
Neurologist, neurologist-vegetologist, Candidate of Medical Sciences, head of the “Clinical Center of Autonomic Neurology”.