Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

neck pain with osteochondrosis

Cervical osteochondrosis is a kind of dystrophic changes in the intervertebral discs in the neck.

Not only the discs themselves are negatively affected, but also the vertebrae, soft and cartilaginous tissue. The main feature of the cervical region is the fact that its vertebrae do not have the most reliable structure in comparison with other regions, which makes this area very vulnerable. The vertebrae are located in close proximity to each other, as well as to those arteries that supply the human brain.

If there is a displacement of the vertebrae, then there is a high probability of compression of the nerve bundles and arteries, which will inevitably lead to the occurrence of a hernia between the vertebrae and protrusion, i. e. changes in the structure of the vertebral disc.

What it is?

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine (Osteohondroz) is a degenerative-dystrophic lesion of the intervertebral discs, as a result of which the discs themselves, vertebrae and joints of the cervical spine are damaged, and a decrease in the height of the intervertebral discs is observed. The disease progresses if left untreated and can lead to headaches, poor circulation and even hernia. Like osteoporosis, the disease occurs due to a violation of mineral metabolism, as a result of which bones and joints become weaker.

Why does osteochondrosis appear?

Although traditional medicine considers degenerative changes in the intervertebral discs of the cervical spine to be a disease, from the point of view of osteopathy, this is only a manifestation of deeper disorders in the body.

Thus, the true causes of cervical osteochondrosis are:

  1. Muscle spasms. . . Spasmodic reactions of the muscles of the back, chest, press can lead to the fact that certain parts of the body are very tense. As a result, the general equilibrium position of the body is disturbed, causing a change in the position of the spine. Deformities can touch the cervical region or other parts of the spinal column, causing osteochondrosis of the thoracic, cervical, and lumbar regions.
  2. Poor posture. . . Scoliosis, stoop, round back, kyphosis and other postural disorders, even if they are minor, cause serious imbalance of the spinal column. As a result, the load on the intervertebral discs is unevenly distributed, which provokes their deformation and increased wear. The vertebrae begin to converge, causing infringement of the nerve processes, cervical osteochondrosis develops quite quickly. Posture disturbances caused by a change in the natural position of the ribs have similar consequences.
  3. Innervation disorder. . . A decrease in the sensitivity of the nerve roots leads to pathological changes in their structure, as a result of which the displacement and deformation of the cervical vertebrae remains unnoticed by the patient. After all, pain is absent due to sensitivity disorders.
  4. Diseases of the internal organs. . . The incorrect position of the internal organs, their displacement and lowering due to various dysfunctions leads to a violation of the general balance in the body. As a result, this sharply affects the position of the spinal column - the cervical, lumbar vertebrae are displaced and deformed, leading to the corresponding types of osteochondrosis.
  5. Violation of blood supply. . . Since the vertebral discs do not have a direct connection with the circulatory system, they receive nutrition from the surrounding tissues. Violation of the blood supply to the cervical spine leads to the fact that the discs do not receive enough fluid for rehydration (restoration of shape due to moisture absorption), renewal of cartilaginous tissue. As a result, their wear is accelerated, there is a decrease in the distance between the vertebrae of the cervical spine, leading to osteochondrosis.


The attending physician should determine the degree of development of cervical osteochondrosis, based on the history, as well as the examination of the patient. There are only four degrees:

  1. First degree. . . The disease is in the rudiment itself, the patient has a slight pain in the neck, which can be more intense if the person begins to turn his head.
  2. Second degree. . . The patient may complain of very intense pain in the cervical spine, which can be localized in the upper limbs. The clinical picture shows that at this stage of the development of the disease, pinching of the nerve bundles is observed, which causes intense pain. Headache, weakness and general malaise are also noted.
  3. Third degree. . . The pains become almost incessant, also radiating to the shoulder or arm. Some patients are diagnosed with a herniated disc, which leads to loss of sensation in the upper limbs. On examination by a doctor, there is a noticeable decrease in the mobility of the cervical spine, as well as pain on palpation.
  4. Fourth degree. . . At this stage of the disease, the intervertebral disc is almost completely destroyed. In its place, connective tissue appears, which leads to a worsening of the patient's condition. He begins to feel more pain, noise in his head, as well as poor orientation in space. This suggests that the artery is pinched, which interferes with the natural nutrition of the brain.

First signs

How osteochondrosis of the cervical spine manifests itself:

  • radicular syndrome - against the background of compression of the nerve endings, pain occurs, which spreads from the neck to the shoulder blades, forearms, covers the anterior wall of the chest;
  • muscle weakness in the arms, noticeable swelling of the neck;
  • when moving the head, a characteristic crunch is heard;
  • weakness, chronic fatigue, drops in blood pressure;
  • lack of coordination, often dizzy, attacks are accompanied by nausea, vomiting;
  • deterioration of vision and hearing, noise, ringing in the ears;
  • numbness of the limbs, tongue;
  • frequent migraines;
  • in women aged 45–65 years, pain, numbness, tingling in the upper extremities appear during sleep, attacks can be repeated several times per night.

Symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

Important symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis are dizziness, headaches, surges in blood pressure.

Diagnosis of the disease is difficult, pain sometimes does not appear, and the symptoms are erased, moreover, the uncontrolled use of strong analgesics masks the symptoms of the disease. A patient who does not feel pain considers himself healthy, and this continues until the development of irreversible processes in the tissues of the joints of the neck.

Headache with cervical osteochondrosis

The most common causes of headache in the pathology we are describing:

  1. Vascular spasms of the brain;
  2. Pinched nerve roots;
  3. Reflex increase in intracranial pressure.

Feels like the pain can be paroxysmal, constant, throbbing and dull.

Dizziness with cervical osteochondrosis

Dizziness can result from:

  1. Inflammation in the middle or inner ear;
  2. Vascular spasms of the brain;
  3. Disturbances in the transmission of nerve impulses;
  4. Problems with the vestibular apparatus;
  5. Diseases of the cardiovascular system.

There are no clear criteria for dizziness in osteochondrosis. However, there are systemic and non-systemic vertigo, they have obvious differences.

It is recommended to know the differences between systemic and non-systemic dizziness, this will help to independently determine the causes of an unusual state:

  1. Systemic dizziness is a sensation of circular motion of the surrounding objects or the body, which is a consequence of disruption of the vestibular apparatus, visual analyzers and receptors in the joints, muscles and epidermis (osteochondrosis of various etiologies);
  2. Non-systemic dizziness is a feeling of lightheadedness, a feeling of being stunned, unsure of being in an upright position. In case of non-systemic dizziness, the sensation of circular rotation is absent, and this is an important difference between the compared signs.

A person who feels dizziness of one of these types should be examined by an experienced doctor, first of all, by a neurologist or (if there is a suspicion of ear and nasopharyngeal disease) by an otolaryngologist.

The reason for emergency hospitalization, not associated with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, is the identification of the patient (except for dizziness) of such signs as:

  1. Paralysis of the facial muscles and numbness of a part of the shoulder girdle;
  2. Severe headache against a background of deterioration in health;
  3. Movement coordination disorders;
  4. Loss or extinction of consciousness.

Blood pressure in cervical osteochondrosis

The connection of cervical osteochondrosis with surges in blood pressure has long been established. The cervical vertebrae have important nerve endings and blood vessels.

A distinctive feature of high blood pressure in cervical osteochondrosis is a combination with the following symptoms:

  • Headache;
  • Pain in the limbs and chest;
  • Decreased sensitivity in the neck area;
  • The occurrence of pressure surges after stress, muscle tension, prolonged uncomfortable posture and other similar situations.

These signs should be taken into account when self-differentiating hypertension of various origins.

Sharp jumps in blood pressure and a rapid deterioration in health are the basis for seeking emergency medical help.

Osteochondrosis syndromes

Osteochondrosis consists of the following syndromes:

  1. Vertebral. . . It is also called vertebral, which indicates that bones and cartilage tissue are involved in the pathological process. This leads to the formation of such symptoms: limitation of motor activity of the neck, pain when turning it, radiological changes in the image of the cervical spine. It is the simultaneous appearance of these signs that is the vertebral syndrome. A similar set of clinical signs is observed in myositis (muscle tissue pathology), and painful movements are a companion of many other pathologies.
  2. Cardiac syndrome. . . It is manifested by a burning sensation in the chest area, the appearance of shortness of breath. The person feels his or her rapid heartbeat, becomes tired and irritable. This picture is also typical for cardiological pathology, for example, for angina pectoris, coronary syndrome, heart attack. An accurate conclusion about the causes of such symptoms can be made after the patient undergoes an ECG.
  3. Radicular syndrome. . . The cervical region innervates 8 pairs of nerves, each of which has roots - the place where the nerve exits from the vertebra. When they are involved in osteochondrosis, the patient feels a decrease in sensitivity or vice versa - severe pain. There may be numbness in the occiput, whether it is painful, decreased sensitivity of the tongue, behind the ear, pain in the supraclavicular region. Sometimes there are violations of swallowing, movements in the upper limb girdle, numbness of the fingers.


If there are clear signs of cervical osteochondrosis on the face, then the doctor prescribes certain methods to make sure that the diagnosis is correct:

  1. X-ray of the cervical spine. This method is advisable in the early stages of the disease, but may be useless in advanced forms.
  2. CT (computed tomography). It allows you to see structural changes in the vertebrae, but using this method it is impossible to determine the size of the hernia between the vertebrae.
  3. MRI. It is considered the most effective diagnostic method in determining cervical osteochondrosis. It is possible to determine the size of the hernia between the discs, as well as the degree of their development.
  4. The doctor may also order a duplex scan to determine if the blood flow in the arteries is not normal.

Complications of the disease

What is the danger of cervical osteochondrosis:

  • frequent migraine attacks;
  • heart rhythm disturbance, atherosclerosis;
  • protrusion, intervertebral hernia, bony growths of the vertebrae;
  • serious pathologies of the brain;
  • narrowing of the lumen of the vertebral artery, which leads to the development of VSD, cerebral hypertension, disability;
  • spinal stroke.

First aid at home with exacerbation of osteochondrosis

For severe pain, pain relievers can be used. If analgesics do not provide relief, NSAIDs can be taken.

Often used are "distracting" means, for example, the Pepper Plaster, which does not heal, but only warms up the inflamed area and distracts from the pain. In case of edema in the area of inflammation, the patient can drink an infusion of herbs or a diuretic for 3-4 days. Is it possible to cure osteochondrosis with such methods? These measures are only temporary; to treat the causes, you need to see a doctor.

How to treat osteochondrosis of the cervical spine?

At the initial stage of development, osteochondrosis can be cured without drugs, it is enough to revise the diet, daily regimen, and regularly perform a set of special exercises. With advanced forms of the disease, effective treatment is possible only with the use of various medications that help stop degenerative changes in the vertebrae.

The complex of therapeutic measures must include physiotherapy - electrophoresis with drugs, ultrasound, magnetotherapy, laser therapy. These methods help to cope with pain, inflammation, tissue swelling, improve metabolic processes and blood circulation.

Drug treatment

The main methods of treating osteochondrosis of the cervical spine are drug treatment, physiotherapy, massage of the cervical-collar zone, therapeutic exercises for cervical osteochondrosis are especially effective. The main groups of drugs used for this disease include:

Name Operating principle
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They reduce pain, help relieve aseptic inflammation and edema of the root of the damaged nerve.
Drugs that improve the rheological properties of blood and blood flow. Improves nutrition of damaged nerve roots and improves blood flow to the brain.
B vitamins. Improves metabolic processes in the nervous tissue.
Muscle relaxants. These are drugs that relieve muscle spasms.
Chondroprotectors. These are glucosamine and chondroitin. These are drugs that restore cartilage tissue, including in the damaged intervertebral disc.

Taking pills for osteochondrosis, it should be remembered that a significant effect of drug treatment with pills will be only if you combine it with other methods, including exercise. It should also be noted that the attending physician must prescribe how to treat the disease based on its stage and other signs.

Many doctors consider the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis to be effective with injections, since this allows faster action on the endings of the nerves and causes a minimum of side reactions. At the same time, vitamins are best taken in pill form, since there is no difference for assimilation, but injections can be painful.

Injections used for treatment:

  • intramuscular injections cause a general strengthening and anti-inflammatory effect;
  • blockades are injected directly into the affected area, which leads to a quick effect.

Ointments and gels for external use

This is the most accessible group of drugs for use at home. They are divided into relieving inflammation, warming and pain relievers.

With cervical osteochondrosis, not all ointments are effective, in addition, due to their availability, they are sometimes used unreasonably and without taking into account the peculiarities of pathogenesis. Before using any medication, you must be examined by a doctor.

Exercise therapy

Physiotherapy for cervical osteochondrosis should be carried out without acute exacerbation. The greatest efficiency of this technique is during the recovery period. There should be no discomfort and pain during the execution of the complex!

Exercise number 1 Lying on your stomach, put your hands on the floor, raise your head and torso, your back should be straight. Remain in this position for 1-2 minutes. Slowly lower yourself to the floor. Repeat 2-3 times.
Exercise number 2 Lying 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 number 3 In a sitting position, while inhaling, bend forward, and try to touch your chest with your head, then exhaling, bend back and tilt your head back. Repeat 10-15 times.
Exercise number 4 While sitting, put your palms on your forehead, apply pressure with your palms on your forehead and your forehead on your palms. Continue this exercise for 30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
Exercise number 5 Slowly rotate your head first in one direction, then in the other direction. 10 rotations in each direction. Watch for dizziness. When it appears, the exercise stops.
exercises for cervical osteochondrosis

Massage for cervical osteochondrosis

Massage must be done carefully, without power exertion. Inexperienced, unprofessional massage can end in failure. Movements should extend to the cervical region, the collar area and part of the back. The massage is performed in a prone position, in extreme cases, in a sitting position.

The techniques are based on the following techniques:

  1. Stroking. Impact on the surface layers of the skin. With the palms of the hands or fingertips from the head down to the upper third of the middle of the back. Stroking from the base of the neck can also be in a zigzag pattern;
  2. Squeezing. Impact on the deep layers of the skin in the upper third of the back. Fingers (thumb and forefinger) across the neck carry out movements to grasp the skin, reminiscent of squeezing. This is done carefully, tissues close to the vertebrae are not involved;
  3. Trituration. The purpose of the procedure is to warm up the skin and increase blood flow in the neck area. This is done with extreme caution. Impact on the spinous processes of the vertebrae is not allowed. Rubbing can be replaced with movements reminiscent of sawing, or circular stroking;
  4. Kneading. It is of limited importance, since it affects very deeply lying tissues, which can aggravate the pathology.

Self-massage for cervical osteochondrosis is performed while sitting in a comfortable position. Methods of stroking, circular rubbing in the neck or shoulders are used. It is advisable to combine the self-massage method with rubbing in various ointments that increase blood flow and relieve pain in the kneaded area.

massage for cervical osteochondrosis


Together with taking medications, the patient needs to undergo physiotherapy procedures. They increase the effectiveness of medicines and promote the restoration of joints and intervertebral discs.

  1. Electrophoresis - the ions of the anesthetic drug penetrate into the sore spot due to the action of an electric current.
  2. Laser therapy - has anti-inflammatory properties, guarantees an improvement in blood circulation, by means of light exposure.
  3. Magnetic therapy - relieves tissue swelling, has an analgesic effect.
  4. Ultrasound - there is an improvement in metabolic processes, pain relieving, relieving inflammation of the damaged areas.

Several procedures are used in the form of physiotherapy. The doctor prescribes treatment, relying on the indications and the absence of contraindications.

physiotherapy for cervical osteochondrosis

Folk remedies

Alternative treatment must be used as an adjunct to drug therapy and physical education; unconventional methods will not help to completely get rid of the disease.

What to do with cervical osteochondrosis at home:

  1. Pour boiling water over a fresh horseradish leaf, cool a little, attach the inside to the neck, fix it with a thin natural cloth. The procedure is done before going to bed, leave the compress overnight.
  2. Grate raw potatoes on a fine grater, mix in equal proportions with warm liquid honey. Use the mixture for compresses, the procedure should be carried out 1-2 times a week.
  3. Mix a raw egg with 100 ml of sunflower oil, 20 ml of vinegar and 20 g of flour, remove the mixture in a dark place for 48 hours, remove the film from the surface. Means to smear the inflamed area before bedtime, store in the refrigerator.
  4. In May, collect pine buds up to 2 cm long, cut into thin slices, fold into a container of dark glass. For 1 part of the raw material, take 2 parts of sugar, remove the medicine in a dark place for 2 weeks. Drink 5 ml of the mixture three times a day, do not swallow immediately, hold in your mouth for 2-3 minutes. Course duration - 15-20 days, repeat 2-3 times a year.
  5. Grind 150 g of peeled garlic and 400 g of cranberries, put the mixture in a glass container, add 800 ml of honey after 24 hours, mix. Take 5 ml of the medicine three times a day before meals.

Cope with severe pain, draw out excess salts with a cabbage leaf smeared with honey, fix the compress on the neck with a warm scarf, leave it overnight.


The use of applicators is one of the methods of therapy for diseases of the spine, including osteochondrosis.

The impact of the device on the cervical spine normalizes metabolic processes, relieves pain, increases muscle tone, improves blood circulation, increases the conductivity of nerve tissue, etc.

cervical osteochondrosis treatment applicator

Manual therapy

Manual therapy is based on the principle of restoring motor functions and mobility between the vertebrae.

Initially, the manipulations consist in a light relaxing massage, then the doctor applies more and more force, acts on the vertebrae by pressing and turning the neck.

manual therapy for cervical osteochondrosis


The spine is the foundation of the entire human body. When diagnosing any pathology associated with the spinal column, specialists seek to eliminate it therapeutically. Any operation on the spine is life-threatening.

With cervical osteochondrosis, surgical intervention is allowed under the following indications:

  • intervertebral hernia, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis;
  • lack of results of therapy when exposed to more than six months;
  • the formation of osteophytes.

Modern medicine offers many ways to carry out surgery with minimal risks to the health and life of the patient.


Cervical osteochondrosis is a disease that develops, first of all, with an improper lifestyle. Accordingly, the prevention of disease is a healthy lifestyle.

It is possible to reduce the risk of developing SHO if:

  • exclude provoking factors;
  • exercise regularly;
  • do not resort to heavy physical activity;
  • get rid of bad habits;
  • try to be as little nervous as possible;
  • eat right.

Compliance with preventive measures will help speed up the healing process and eliminate the likelihood of relapse. Elderly people and those who have a hereditary predisposition are advised to adhere to prevention constantly. Compliance with a diet, performing simple exercises will definitely bring a positive result. It is also helpful to do yoga and swimming.