Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine: symptoms and treatment

Diseases of the spine are a serious pathology that alters the normal physiology of both the axial skeleton and the organism as a whole. The defeat of only one region of the neck leads to disruption of the pituitary, thyroid, organs of vision and hearing, shoulder and elbow joints. Therefore, every person who cares about their health needs to know the causes of the development of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, their main symptoms, methods of treatment and prevention.

What is cervical osteochondrosis

The human cervical spine consists of 7 vertebrae, which are connected by elastic intervertebral discs. Usually the vertebrae are close together, holding the head securely and participating in the movement. The first signs of the disease appear in a person from 25 to 45 years of age. Osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebra develops - a degenerative-dystrophic change in the intervertebral discs. Their decrease leads to compression, crowding of nerves and blood vessels. If osteochondrosis is not treated, the disease begins to progress rapidly.

Reasons for the development of cervical osteochondrosis

Consider the main causes of cervical osteochondrosis:

  • lack of physical activity or vice versa, excessive stress;
  • sedentary life, sedentary work;
  • Violation of posture by the type of scoliosis;
  • constant stress, nervous tension.

Other causes of cervical osteochondrosis are injuries, hereditary diseases: genetic predisposition, intrauterine injuries.

Symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

Severe pain in the neck signals the third stage of cervical osteochondrosis

Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis are very diverse and depend on the stage of development of the disease:

1 degree Symptoms are mild, sometimes there are small back pains, sleep disturbances and headaches. However, minor early signs do not cause much concern, so people do not go to the doctor.
2 degrees The pictures show protrusions, a decrease in the height of the intervertebral discs. The pain becomes constant, there is stiffness, numbness of the face, head. There is a cough. Migraine pain develops, nausea and dizziness increase. Sleep is disturbed, fatigue increases. Observed violations of cardiovascular activity.
3 degrees The development of intervertebral hernias in cervical osteochondrosis leads to compression of nearby tissues - blood vessels, nerves. There are strong, aching pains in the back of the head and neck, dizziness, nausea appear. Patients feel weak and numb in their hands. The muscle tone changes, tension in the neck muscles occurs. Patients develop sclerosis.
4 degrees The appearance of osteophytes to narrow the intervertebral foramina, pinched nerves, joint damage. All symptoms increase, become permanent. At this stage, the signs of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine decrease, since the vertebrae practically merge with each other and mobility decreases. Lack of treatment at this stage can lead to disability.

Since the nerves from each vertebra approach certain organs, the localization of damage can be determined based on the clinical manifestations of the disease.

Cervical osteochondrosis syndrome

With osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, the muscles of the neck are strained

With osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, there is compression and injury to the roots of the spinal nerves. This pathology is rare. This is due to the fact that the cervical ligaments are strong, and hernial protrusions practically do not come out of the intervertebral foramen.

Radicular Syndromes

Radicular syndromes are caused by oxygen starvation of the latter.

stimulus reflex syndromes

Stimulus reflex syndromes are characterized by burning, sharp pain in the back of the head or neck. It occurs during movement of the head after prolonged tension caused by a long, immobile state of the neck. In addition, there are complaints in the chest and shoulder joints.

cardiac syndrome

The cardiac syndrome is similar to angina pectoris. Patients complain of heart pain that occurs with physical or emotional stress. However, when examining the work of the heart, no pathology is found, and heart drugs do not bring relief. Cardiac syndrome develops in suspected individuals with a tendency to phobias. For such patients, the help of a psychotherapist or psychiatrist may be required.

What is dangerous cervical osteochondrosis?

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is an insidious disease. One of the greatest dangers is narrowing of the coronary arteries, which can lead to a heart attack.

Severe headaches in osteochondrosis of the cervical region lead to a decrease in memory and human performance, the inability to perform professional tasks.

Changes in vertebrae and intervertebral discs lead to numbness of the roots, accompanied by functional disorders of the affected organs or lead to disabilities.

Cervical osteochondrosis, which has life-threatening consequences

Diagnosis of cervical osteochondrosis

If you have neck problems, you need to consult a neurologist or orthopedist. The diagnosis of cervical osteochondrosis is made on the basis of the patient's complaints, life history, examination, examination.

To clarify the diagnosis, it is necessary to conduct x-rays, computer or magnetic resonance imaging to detect protrusions or hernias. If there are symptoms of circulatory disorders in the brain, an ultrasound of the vessels in the neck, an encephalography of the brain and an examination of the fundus of the eye are performed. With a large number of symptoms affecting other organ systems, additional diagnostics are carried out, which are prescribed by a cardiologist, rheumatologist.

How to treat cervical osteochondrosis

Treatment of osteochondrosis of the neck region should always be carried out in a complex way. All measures are aimed not only at eliminating pain, but also at eliminating other pathological symptoms. Treatment is carried out using such methods and means as:

  • drug therapy;
  • Massage;
  • Physical therapy;
  • unconventional methods;
  • surgical intervention.
Pain in the cervical spine is the main symptom of osteochondrosis

Medical treatment

Drug therapy of osteochondrosis is aimed at relieving pain in the neck area, restoring blood circulation in the vessels and maintaining motor and mental activity. The main groups of drugs:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Medicines relieve inflammation, eliminate pain, have an antipyretic effect.

Caution: you can not take these drugs for a long time, as they can cause side effects - liver damage, stomach ulcers, impaired blood formation and increased thrombosis.

muscle relaxer Reduce muscle tone and spasms.
vascular drugs They improve blood circulation in the vessels, eliminate headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, flickering "flies" and help restore memory.
venotonics Venotonics are prescribed in violation of the venous blood flow of the head.
antispasmodics Reduce cerebral vascular spasms.
General tonic: Ginkgo biloba, ginseng They are prescribed for CSF hypotension.
Serotonin Receptor Agonists Increase the tone of the arteries.
neurotropes They are prescribed for dizziness, tinnitus.
diuretics Reduce swelling in the restrained tissues.
chondroprotectors They prevent the destruction of cartilage tissue, intervertebral discs.
tranquilizers and antidepressants Reduce nervous tension, anxiety, depression, depression, fatigue.
Group B vitamins, complex preparations of vitamins Improve the trophism (nutrition) of cartilage and nerve tissue. They are prescribed in the form of tablets or injections (during an exacerbation).

Attention: preparations for the treatment of osteochondrosis, in addition to the therapeutic effect, can have side effects and have serious contraindications. Therefore, in no case do not self-medicate. Only a specialist, a neuropathologist, can prescribe the necessary drugs, individually select the dose and determine the duration of taking the drugs.

First aid for a disease at the stage of severe exacerbation is therapeutic and drug blockades, which only a specialist doctor is authorized to carry out.

Surgical treatment of osteochondrosis

Surgical treatment of cervical osteochondrosis is prescribed only in extreme cases, for example, with the formation of osteophytes (edge growths of the bone tissue of the vertebrae), spondylolisthesis (displacement of the vertebrae) or stenosis (narrowing) of the spinal canal. Surgical intervention is prescribed only if all other methods of treatment have not shown a positive effect.

The operations are carried out as gently as possible with microsurgical instruments and a microscope. Surgeons most commonly perform endoscopic surgeries or microdiscectomies. During the operation, the ligaments are removed, the affected vertebral fragments are removed, and the hernia protrusions are removed. The postoperative period is usually long, but the prognosis for rehabilitation is favorable.


Massage performed outside the period of exacerbation is prescribed to consolidate the therapeutic effect or for prophylactic purposes. It is usually prescribed in a course of 10-14 sessions several times a year. Purpose of the massage:

  • improvement of lymphatic drainage;
  • normalize blood circulation;
  • relax the muscles of the neck, collar zone;
  • improvement of cartilage nutrition;
  • prevent further development of the disease;
  • reduce the risk of relapse.
Massage is indicated for the prevention and treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

Which massage to choose - manual or mechanical, which also helps well with cervical osteochondrosis, only the doctor decides.

physical therapy

Physiotherapeutic procedures complement other forms of treatment and have a positive effect on the health of the cervical spine. Physiotherapy is prescribed in the stage of remission, relieves pain, muscle spasms, strengthens muscles and restores motor activity. When osteochondrosis is used most often:

  • balneotherapy;
  • detensor therapy;
  • laser therapy;
  • magnetotherapy;
  • UV therapy.
The needle applicator helps relieve muscle spasms in cervical osteochondrosis

Non-traditional treatment methods

Non-traditional methods of treatment complement the official ones and help to quickly cope with problems in the throat area.

  1. Acupuncture. Inserting needles into specific, painful points along the spine releases muscle tension, relieves pain, reduces inflammation, and improves circulation.
  2. Dry or underwater traction. It is prescribed to raise the vertebrae and increase the distance between them. Thanks to this procedure, pain subsides, blood circulation is restored, and the load on the joints is reduced.
  3. needle applicator. The needle tips of the applicator act on the active points of the cervical spine, restoring functions and reducing inflammation in muscle and cartilage tissue.
  4. Leech. Not very presentable in appearance, but medicinal leeches have a unique saliva, the components of which relax muscles, improve trophism in the affected tissues, reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  5. hydrotherapy. Water showers, sauna, herbal baths complete the traditional forms of treatment.
  6. foot massage. Effectively affects the whole body, relieves fatigue, pain, improves metabolic processes in the spine.

physical therapy

This disease does not like movements, so physical exercises need to be firmly established in our lives in order to get rid of such a serious misfortune. Remedial gymnastics can be practiced daily, with the exception of the period of exacerbation. The doctor will help to choose the right exercises, and the first courses can be held in the physiotherapy room under the supervision of a medical staff.

The role of the movement therapist is to show how to perform the exercises correctly to help choose the right rhythm, amplitude and duration of the exercises. In the future, you need to do physiotherapy exercises at home, not forgetting that the load should be gradually increased, and all movements should be performed smoothly.

Daily exercises will help strengthen the muscles of the neck, reduce the load on the intervertebral discs and serve as a good prevention of osteochondrosis.

Outside the period of exacerbation of cervical osteochondrosis, therapeutic exercises are recommended

Prevention of cervical osteochondrosis

It's no secret that prevention is the best cure. And the sooner you do it, the fewer health problems there will be in the future.

When to start preventive measures? Of course, it's better from childhood. If you are a parent of a preschool child, do not limit the child's natural desire for physical activity. It is not necessary to enroll him in the sports section - let him run, jump on the street, buy a rope, tire, bike, scooter. Set up a sports corner at home, invent or find interesting exercises on the Internet, turn them into a game and have fun doing it yourself.

If your child is already a schoolboy, pay attention to how he sits at the desk, whether he is comfortable, whether he has to bend over notebooks and textbooks. Remember that when a child sits in a chair, they should bend their knees at a 90-degree angle? The same degree should be between the hips and the spine. If the angle is not maintained, you need to adjust the height of the chair or table. The chair should have a comfortable seat, armrests and a high backrest that you can lean on while relaxing.

Pay attention to the height of the monitor - when seated, your eyes should look up at the top of the monitor and the keyboard should be below elbow height. Check how comfortable you and your child are at your desk. Do you feel comfortable having a sedentary desk job? If not, consider how you can help yourself. Maybe you can change the height of the chair, raise the monitor, or get a sleek footrest.

Watch your posture while you work. No offense, remember how animals sit, for example, your beloved dog, supporting the entire surface of the buttocks on the floor, straightening the lower back, not bending over like a donut. After 15-20 minutes you need to take a short break. It's easier to warm up at home - you can get up, stretch with relish, do a few dance moves to the music, stretch your neck.

What can you do in the office when the natural desire to leave the table often is undesirable? You can use a seated workout:

  1. Smooth head rotations left and right, up and down, rotation in a circle, clockwise and counterclockwise (careful not to get dizzy);
  2. Press your chin against your neck, then against your chest and turn your head left and right;
  3. Place your palm on your forehead and press as hard as possible (10 seconds), then move your palm to the right, left temple and the back of the head. Do you feel the muscles in the neck region tighten? Great;
  4. Massage the neck, starting from the back of the head to the shoulders, knead the shoulders, and then gently rub your fingers from the back of the head to the shoulders several times to ensure even blood flow.

The warm-up will be incomplete if you don't take care of the condition of the lower spine and arms:

  1. Rotate your shoulders: forward and backward, up and down 10 times;
  2. Bring and spread your shoulder blades, feel how nicely your back muscles tense and say thank you. These muscles are engaged in static work, supporting our body in an upright position. But they also get tired faster than others, especially in babies. This is why children so often struggle to change their posture while sitting. And you don't have to scold them for it;
  3. To relax the pelvic spine, tense and relax the glutes several times;
  4. Go to the legs, tighten-relax the muscles of the thighs, then the lower leg, toes, repeat this exercise several times;
  5. Press the brushes into a lock, make a "wave" several times, including brushes, elbows, shoulders;
  6. Clench four fingers into a fist and make several clockwise and counterclockwise twists with your thumbs;
  7. Work with a brush - clench your fist tightly, then force your brush up and spread your fingers wide.
Patients with cervical osteochondrosis need to be introduced to the daily exercise program.

These exercises can take 3 to 5 minutes depending on the number of repetitions. You can make multiple attempts per day. You may be wondering why you need to do full body exercises when only the cervical spine is involved. The fact is that most often the entire spine suffers, so a general preventive warm-up is only beneficial.

Interesting: The Estonian healer Luule Viilma writes that every illness is given to a person in order to have time to realize his life. And the quicker a person recognizes his life mistakes, the quicker recovery will occur. According to L. Viilma, the cause of this disease is the fear of guilt, accusation, overtaxing oneself and others. Awareness of why a disease arose, forgiveness for yourself and others is a way to get rid of all bad things and restore health.

Physical activity, simple exercises must be integrated into everyday life. It is not necessary to practice for hours, especially when there is no time for it. Videos with short workouts can be found on the Internet. To lose weight and relieve the problematic section of the spine, you should pay attention to the Tabata exercise system, which offers exercises at a high pace, with certain intervals of rest and loading.

Attention: before engaging in such physical activity, you need to consult with specialists and choose the best exercises. It is impossible to engage in such a system during an exacerbation of osteochondrosis.

In order to relieve the cervical spine, it makes sense to ensure a comfortable posture during sleep. For the neck and head, using the perfect orthopedic pillow would be the ideal option.

What else can you say about prevention? Of course, this is sensible eating that tracks your body mass index, exercise, nature walks, and most importantly, the desire to be healthy. Our health is in our hands, and every human being must use this gift.