Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

Cervical osteochondrosis

Osteochondrosis is a lesion of the intervertebral discs of a degenerative-dystrophic nature, and the cervical region is the most vulnerable part of the spinal column, which has an anatomically different structure of the spine very close to each other and a weak muscular corset. Therefore, even with small additional loads on the neck, the spine can move, causing blood vessels and nerves to constrict.

And because the vertebral arteries, which are involved in the blood supply to the brain, pass through holes in the transverse processes of the spine in this area, stretching the spine or puncturing holes in adult osteophytes is very serious.

What is this?

Cervical osteochondrosis is a progressive polyetiological disease characterized by degeneration of the intervertebral discs and dystrophy of the spinal cord.


The main causes and preconditions for cervical osteochondrosis are:

  1. Spinal curvature, scoliosis.
  2. Stress, nervous tension negatively affects the general condition of the body, can lead to cervical osteochondrosis.
  3. Infectious diseases have often been a major cause in the past.
  4. Wrong, uncomfortable body position during sleep (e. g. , uncomfortable pillow).
  5. Congenital problems or the presence of hereditary diseases of the cervical spine.
  6. Poor posture in young people and adolescents.
  7. Excess weight, various degrees of obesity. The extra pounds increase the load on the spine and discs, leading to degenerative processes.
  8. Spinal cord injuries that may occur in childhood or adolescence.
  9. Disruption of metabolic processes.
  10. Physical labor-related work that can provoke spinal diseases in various parts of the body.
  11. Inactive lifestyle, sedentary work, wrong exercise.

For successful treatment of cervical osteochondrosis, it is first necessary to determine the cause of origin, the preconditions that led to its development and their elimination. Until recently, the disease was found only in people over 45 years of age. Now young people experience it, the age range is 18-25 years.

Cervical spine characteristics

Let's consider how the cervical spine differs from the rest of the spine and that it is a prerequisite for the development of these syndromes during the development of osteochondrosis.

  • Important ganglia (nodes) of the autonomic nervous system are located in the cervical region.
  • In the transverse processes of the spine, there are holes that form the canal through which the vertebral artery passes, which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the brain, cerebellum, auditory organs, and spinal nerve. These are prerequisites for frequent contraction of the artery and nerve.
  • The cervical spine is the most mobile. It is characterized by all kinds of movement in full. These are the preconditions and subgroups of common disorders.
  • The lumbar intervertebral discs of the lower three vertebrae are not round but triangular. These are prerequisites for the nerve root crust with bone formations that arise during osteochondrosis.
  • The intervertebral discs are located along the entire length of the vertebral bodies. In the front, instead, are depicted the sharp edges of the spine, which are connected by joints. These are the preconditions for the onset of joint subluxation.

Development Stages

The degree of osteochondrosis is determined by the clinical picture and the patient's complaints. The concept of quality should not be confused with the stages of osteochondrosis. The stages are discussed below.

  1. First degree. Clinical manifestations are minimal, the patient may complain of low-intensity pain in the cervical spine, which may worsen during head rotation. Physical examination may reveal slight muscle tension in the neck.
  2. Second degree. The patient suffers from cervical spine pain, its intensity is much higher, there may be radiation to the shoulder, arm. This occurs due to a reduction in the height of the intervertebral disc and the cortex of the nerve roots. Painful sensations increase when the head is tilted and turned. The patient can reduce the action, weakness, headache.
  3. Third degree. The symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis get worse, the pain becomes constant when the shoulder or shoulder is irradiated. Deadness or weakness occurs in the arm muscles as the hernia becomes intervertebral discs. Worry about weakness, dizziness. The examination reveals limited mobility of the cervical spine, pain on palpation of the cervical spine.
  4. Fourth degree. The intervertebral disc is completely destroyed and replaced with connective tissue. Dizziness increases, tinnitus occurs, coordination is disrupted, as the process involves the vertebral artery, which nourishes the share of the brain and occiput.


The severity of the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis depends on the degree of destruction of the vertebral structures. Symptoms are exacerbated by the growth of bone tissue with the formation of osteophytes, radicular syndrome (radicular pain when the nerve is crushed), intervertebral hernia (separation of the disc in the spinal canal).

The first signs of the disease are recurrent headaches in the neck, pain in the neck, tightness of the neck and spine when turning, and sometimes a slight tingling in the shoulders. Over time the symptoms increase and the intensity of the pain increases.

Pain syndrome is a major manifestation of osteochondrosis. Neck pain is either dry, persistent, or severe when the head is lowered below the occiput. The entire region of the cervix or the projection zone of the altered spine, as well as the neck, arms, veins, and heart area may be damaged. Irradiation of pain in the lower jaw, teeth, arm, ear, eye area is not excluded. The muscles of the neck and shoulders are tense, painful on palpation. Difficulty lifting the shoulder from the injury - Lumbago is immediately noted in the shoulder or neck area. Restriction of head movement due to pain often occurs in the morning in an uncomfortable position after sleep.

The disease causes compression of the roots of the peripheral nerves (radicular syndrome) and causes pain during the course of these nerves. There may be numbness of the hands or fingers, tenderness of certain areas of the skin from the impaired nerve.

Some typical symptoms indicate which spine it affects:

  • C1 - Sensitivity is reduced in the occipital region;
  • C2 - pain in the occipital and parietal regions;
  • C3 - Decreased sensitivity and pain in the neck during spinal nerve disorders, possibly decreased language sensitivity, speech impediment due to loss of control of the tongue;
  • C4 - Decreased sensitivity and pain in the shoulder-scapular region, Decreased muscle tone of the head and neck, possible breathing disorders, pain in the liver and heart;
  • C5 - pain and sensory disturbance on the outer surface of the shoulder;
  • C6 - Pain from neck to shoulder, forearm, outer surface of shoulder, radial surface of forearm to finger;
  • C7 - Pain in the neck area, in the back of the shoulder, forearms II - hand II - hand, decreased sensitivity in this area.
  • C8 - Pain and sensory disturbances extend from neck to shoulder, forearm to little finger.

Cervical osteochondrosis is always accompanied by headaches. Acute, persistent pain is exacerbated by neck flexion or sudden movements. Some patients complain of heaviness in the head. Compression of the vertebral artery causes dizziness, nausea. Noise, ringing in the ears, flickering of black dots in front of the eyes. Deterioration of cerebral circulation leads to progressive decrease in hearing and visual acuity, numbness of the tongue and change in taste.

Clicking or cramping during neck movement is almost always accompanied by cervical osteochondrosis, which is noted in all patients. A crisis occurs when a sharp turn or throw back.

Syndromes due to cervical osteochondrosis

The symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis are grouped into specific groups called syndromes. Their presence and severity may indicate localization of cervical spine pathology.

Common Syndromes Group:

  1. Vegetative-dystonic syndrome. The redistribution of the first cervical spine can lead to the development of vegetative-vascular dystonia. VSD is not a definite diagnosis because it has no pronounced symptoms. There may be neurological signs, symptoms of impaired cerebral circulation, waves of intracranial pressure, muscle spasms. As a result, the patient's complaints are reduced to dizziness, decreased visual acuity, loss of consciousness, headache, nausea.
  2. Irritant - Reflex. Burning and sharp pain in the back of the head and neck, sometimes with twisting of the chest and shoulders, arising from a change in the position of the head and neck, wheezing, and sharp twisting of the head.
  3. Radical. Differently called cervical sciatica, it combines symptoms associated with disruption of the nerve roots of the cervical spine. Characterized by "chills" on the affected area, fingers, forearms, pasteurized skin, spread on certain fingers.
  4. heart. Almost the same picture of angina often leads to misdiagnosis and treatment. The syndrome occurs due to irritation of the phrenic nerve receptors, partly involving the pericardium and large breast muscle. Thus, spasms in the heart are more reflexive in response to irritation of the cervical nerves.
  5. vertebral artery syndrome. It develops directly both by compression of the artery itself and by irritation of the sympathetic nerve plexus that surrounds it. The pain in this pathology is burning or dead in the occipital region, spreading to the temples, extra arches, crown. Can be found on both sides. Typically, patients are associated with exacerbations after sleeping in a non-physiological state, traveling by transport, or walking. Acute symptoms may include hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness, and high blood pressure.


Like any diagnosis in medicine, the diagnosis of osteochondrosis is made based on the patient's complaints, medical history, clinical examination, and ancillary research methods. Cervical spine radiography is performed with forehead and lateral projections, if necessary, in special positions (open mouth). At the same time, specialists are interested in the height of the intervertebral discs, the presence of osteophytes.

Modern research methods use NMR and CT studies to allow accurate diagnosis. In addition to the additional research methods listed, you may need to consult with appropriate specialists (cardiologist, ophthalmologist, neurosurgeon) and examination by a neurologist is simply vital. The neurologist treats osteochondrosis, so after examining the patient, at his discretion, he will schedule the necessary minimum examination.

How to treat cervical osteochondrosis?

Complex treatment of cervical osteochondrosis may include the following traditional and non-traditional methods: medical treatment, massage, acupressure, manual therapy, physiotherapy, acupuncture, homeopathy, folk remedies, etc. Sh.

The basic treatment regimen for osteochondrosis is the same for all localizations of the disease:

  • First you need to relieve the pain.
  • then the swelling opens.
  • At this stage it is necessary to normalize blood circulation.
  • Strengthen the muscular corset.
  • Improve tissue nutrition and regeneration.

The list of medicines and medications for cervical osteochondrosis is very extensive:

  1. Anti-inflammatory (steroid). These are hormonal drugs that relieve inflammation and thus relieve pain;
  2. Analgesics (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). They are usually prescribed in the form of tablets or capsules. It should be remembered that most of these drugs cause irritation of the mucous membranes of the digestive tract;
  3. Muscle relaxants are medications that relax muscle tone. They are used in surgery and orthopedics as pain relievers. These drugs are prescribed parenterally and are therefore always under medical supervision. There is an extensive list of contraindications;
  4. Osteochondrosis of the neck
  5. Chondroprotectors are substances that contain substances that change the components of cartilage tissue. To achieve a lasting positive effect, such medications must be taken for a very long time;
  6. Ointments and gels for external use. These are the most affordable group of medicines used at home. They are divided into inflammation, warming and pain relief. Such funds are often advertised. In cervical osteochondrosis, not all ointments are effective, in addition, due to their presence, they are sometimes used unreasonably and without considering the peculiarities of pathogenesis.
  7. Vitamins. Osteochondrosis prescribes vitamins that have a beneficial effect on the peripheral nervous system and improve conduction. Water-soluble vitamins: B1, B6, B12, fat-soluble vitamins: A, C, D, E. In recent years, combined drugs containing analgesics and vitamin components have been prescribed more frequently.

Only a team of the best specialists can choose the right therapy, including a neurologist, physiotherapist, masseur, surgeon and spinal neurologist.


Exercise therapy for cervical osteochondrosis should be performed without acute exacerbation. The greatest effectiveness of this technique is the recovery period. There should be no discomfort and pain while performing the complex!

  • Exercise # 1. Lie on your stomach, put your hands on the floor, lift your head and body, your back should be straight. Stay in this position for 1-2 minutes. Slowly lower yourself to the floor. Repeat 2-3 times.
  • Exercise # 2. Lie on your stomach, stretch your arms along your body, turn your head to the left, try to touch the floor with your ear, then turn your head to the right. Repeat 6-7 times in each direction.
  • Exercise # 3. In a sitting position, while inhaling, lean forward and try to touch your chest with your head, then exhale, lean back and lean your head back. Repeat 10-15 times.
  • Exercise # 4. While sitting, put your hands on your forehead, press the palms to the forehead, and forehead to the palms. Continue this exercise for 30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
  • Exercise # 5. Slowly turn your head first in one direction, then in the other. 10 rotations in each direction. Watch for dizziness. When he appears, he stops practicing.

Massage Therapy

Massage can be done at home, but be very careful that the patient does not aggravate or cause harm. The patient should hold the incline, place his hands on the forehead, and hold the chin toward the chest. The neck muscles should be completely relaxed.

  1. stroke. It is necessary to start the massage with these movements: twisting the collar area from the lymph to the supraclavicular and axial nodes. Then flat and comb strokes are used.
  2. pushes. To perform the push-ups, the masseur places his hand on the neck (the index and middle hands should be together) and moves to the spine. Push-ups can also be performed from the edge of the palm to the shoulder joint.
  3. Therapeutic massage for cervical chondrosis
  4. rubles. Rubs are used to warm up the muscles, relax and improve blood circulation. The massage should begin at the base of the skull, performing circular and linear movements with the fingers. You can also perform saw movements with the palms parallel to the ribs.
  5. kneeling. The neck should rotate in a circular motion.
  6. vibration. The massage ends with strokes and vibrations, which are performed by shaking and touching.

Massage is essential to strengthen muscle tone and relieve pain. Depending on the stage of osteochondrosis, massage techniques are selected. Nevertheless, when doing neck massage, specialists use all the techniques of classical massage: rub, blow, massage, etc. Sh. In cases where the patient has pain in only one side, the massage begins in the healthy part of the neck, gradually moving to the part of the neck area where the painful sensations arise.

Manual therapy

Manual therapy helps to cope with acute and chronic pain, it also increases range of motion and improves posture. Basic methods of manual therapy in cervical osteochondrosis:

  1. Relaxing and segmental massage. It is used to warm the muscles and relieve tension.
  2. mobilization. Impact directed to restore joint function by traction.
  3. Manipulation. A sharp push directed at the patient's abnormal areas. The procedure is accompanied by a characteristic crisis (return of the joint to normal).

A chiropractor should be free to own this technique. Otherwise, the error could cause damage.

Orthopedic pillow

Orthopedic pillows

Orthopedic sleeping pads are an effective prevention tool. In many cases, osteochondrosis is exacerbated by additional compression of the cervical artery and nerve roots during sleep on an uncomfortable pillow. The orthopedic product provides a uniform horizontal position of the person during sleep and, thus, ensures a physiologically adequate blood supply to the brain.

When choosing a pillow, take into account the individual anatomical features of the person and combine them with the volume and characteristics of the filler. Properly selected pillow brings obvious benefits to the patient with cervical osteochondrosis.


Physiotherapy procedures for cervical spine osteochondrosis:

  1. Electrophoresis. It should be used with painkillers (anesthetics) that are injected into the skin by an electronic pulse.
  2. Ultrasound. It has a beneficial effect on metabolic processes in the tissues of the cervical spine, causing swelling, pain disappears.
  3. Magnetotherapy. A safe method of treatment consisting of detecting damaged cells from a low-frequency magnetic field. It has an analgesic effect, acts as an anti-inflammatory.
  4. Laser therapy. Improves blood circulation to the affected area, relieves tissue swelling, pain.

Physiotherapy procedures have a beneficial effect on cervical osteochondrosis discs and spines. Along with taking medication, combination treatment helps to eliminate the symptoms of the disease. Procedures are performed in special rooms of hospitals or polyclinics. Before starting the course, you should consult a doctor, determine the duration of physiotherapy, types. Strictly prohibited during aggravation.

Shant collar

Trench collar


shunt collar is a soft and comfortable device that is attached to the back with Velcro and used in cervical osteochondrosis. But not for healing, but for temporary rest and relief from fatigue. It can not be worn without removing it, otherwise the neck muscles will stop working and soon atrophy. If the shunt collar is selected correctly, the patient will feel comfortable and protected.


collar is strictly selected according to the size available in the pharmacy or orthopedic store. Better at the store because the people who work there are usually well aware of their business and product features, which means they can help in each case.

Folk remedies

If the pain of osteochondrosis of the spine becomes unbearable and regular, then you agree with everything to stop it, and here the traditional complex treatment will successfully complement the alternative methods.

  • We insist on celery root (5 grams in 1 liter of boiling water) for 4 hours, drink one tablespoon before each meal;
  • Honey compress, for which we take 2 tbsp. K. Honey and 1 tablet mummy. Heat the components in a water bath, apply a cloth and apply to the cervix, ie the neck, at night;
  • In case of severe pain, the beast grows in the country. I just wash its leaf, pour boiling water over it, cool it slightly, wrap it around my neck and wrap it in a thin scarf at night - in the morning you can already live and work;
  • We insist on chamomile flowers in vegetable oil for two days, heat until boiling (500 ml of oil requires 30 grams of plant), apply to painful areas;
  • Honey-potato compress also helps, for this the root crop should be shredded and mixed with the same amount of honey, applied to the neck at night, used regularly, at least once a week.


As always, proper prevention will help prevent cervical osteochondrosis, but of course all physical exercise should be used regularly, otherwise there will be little benefit from "periodic" exercise.

Remains simple rules to remember:

  • Eat lots of calcium and magnesium foods. These are fish, peas, legumes, nuts, cheese, herbs, but it is better to refrain from sugar, flour, smoked, spicy.
  • Do regular sports, especially swimming, water aerobics and gymnastics, for stretching and flexibility of the spine, as well as for the prevention of osteochondrosis, which can be practiced at home.
  • Move, do special exercises at least a few times a day.
  • Choose a good orthopedic mattress and pillow that is ideal for the neck, resting in its correct anatomical position during sleep (yes, your favorite huge pillows will not disappear with spinal problems! )

If you already have such a diagnosis, the patient should save the spine, namely:

  1. You have to be very careful when lifting and carrying weights, it is better to go to the store twice than to pull heavy bags with both hands, incredibly tighten the neck and shoulder girdle;
  2. Do not freeze, avoid drafts and cold air from the air conditioner (some people like to cool off on a hot day, with the back of the fan);
  3. When trimming the trunk force - remember about osteochondrosis;
  4. Avoid local overheating of muscles, which can occur in overheated baths;
  5. Do not forget to periodically get rid of the monitor, change body position, do not sit for hours, or even days;
  6. Relax your neck by buying a shunt collar;
  7. If possible, if the condition of the cardiovascular system allows, take a steam bath.
In conclusion, I would like to say that a child at risk of osteochondrosis (father and mother already have it) and an adult who has contracted the disease in their lifetime are simply obliged to take preventive measures so as not to become disabled and find themselves on the operating table. After all, this operation is quite complicated and requires a long rehabilitation. In addition, this is not always possible as there are non-surgical cases, so it is best to protect your health from an early age until the discs are intact and excessive growth does not weaken the blood vessels.