What is cervical osteochondrosis, its causes and symptoms, treatment

Speaking of osteochondrosis, we mean pathological changes in the intervertebral discs with degenerative changes in the cartilage. This pathology can affect all parts of the spine. At the same time, cervical osteochondrosis occurs in approximately a quarter of all cases of this condition. As a rule, it mainly affects patients of working age - from 30 to 50 years.

consultation with a doctor for cervical osteochondrosis

Anatomical features

To understand why osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae develops, you need to familiarize yourself with the features of the anatomy of the cervical vertebrae. It consists of 7 vertebrae. And if in the thoracic and lumbar regions the vertebrae are relatively homogeneous, then here they are different in their structure. Indeed, in the cervical region, the movements of the shoulder girdle and head are large in complexity and amplitude. In addition, the mobile neck transitions into a relatively static chest area. Therefore, 1, 2 and 7 vertebrae differ significantly from each other

Through the cervical region, in addition to the spinal cord and spinal nerves, pass peripheral nerves originating in the brain. Some of them, like the vagus, innervate the diaphragm and abdominal organs. In addition to the nerves, the main blood vessels pass here. And if the blood supply through the carotid arteries and the outflow through the jugular veins do not suffer from osteochondrosis, then the vertebral artery is often involved in pathology with osteochondrosis of the neck. It passes through the holes in the transverse processes of 2-6 vertebrae and represents approximately 15% of the total volume of blood entering the brain. In cervical osteochondrosis, this artery can spasm or be compressed by strained muscles or a displaced disc.

The reasons

Why osteochondrosis of the cervical spine developed in this particular case cannot always be determined. It has been established that osteochondrosis is not an independent disease. It is a pathological condition or syndrome caused by other diseases or negative factors, including:

  • Heredity
  • Systemic posture disorders in students, office workers
  • Poor nutrition with a lack of vitamins and minerals
  • Sedentary way of life
  • Frequent mechanical impacts, such as impacts, shaking from drivers
  • Concomitant diseases of the kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, organs of the endocrine system
  • Weakened immunity.


By itself, osteochondrosis is a painless process. Dystrophic changes in the intervertebral discs are not felt by the patient. The disease is felt only when the consequences of cervical osteochondrosis appear - displacement of the intervertebral disc in the posterior-lateral direction with irritation of the nearby nerve fibers, impaired blood circulation through the spinal artery. Then various sensory, motor and neurological disorders appear. Osteochondrosis of the neck is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Neck pain
  • Pathological tension of the neck muscles
  • Restriction of movements in the cervical region
  • Decreased sensation and range of motion in the shoulder girdle and upper extremities
  • Headache, dizziness
  • Unsteady gait due to coordination disorders
  • Nausea, urge to vomit
  • Periodic increase in blood pressure
  • Visual disturbances - a feeling of darkening and fluttering of flies before the eyes
  • Sometimes pain or feeling of a lump in the throat, toothache
  • Insomnia, or vice versa, pathological sleepiness
  • Emotional lability - tearfulness, irritability.

Pain in cervical osteochondrosis is the leading symptom. The pain syndrome makes the patient go to the doctor. The nature of the pain depends on which cervical segment is affected by osteochondrosis. When the upper cervical segments are affected, the skin on the back of the head, crown, and superciliary region hurts. If the pathology has developed in the middle and lower regions, then the pain in the neck radiates to the interscapular space, shoulder girdle and upper limbs.

Exacerbation of cervical osteochondrosis begins with cervicago - a sharp pain resembling back pain. Subsequently, cervical sciatica develops with pain, movement disorders and muscle tension. The main cause of exacerbations is hypothermia. Along with the local ones, cerebral symptoms due to the vertebral artery syndrome are noted. Headache and dizziness can be so severe that the patient loses consciousness.

Flow characteristics

Osteochondrosis is a chronic pathology. And in the absence of treatment, it constantly progresses. In this regard, 4 degrees are distinguished, which reflect the symptoms and functional disorders in the cervical region.

  1. The intervertebral disc tissue thickens. Displacement of the disc is minimal, but already at this stage the outer fibrous covering of the disc is scaly. In the cervical vertebrae, compensatory neocynate processes are strengthened. Manifestations - cervicalgia, cervical.
  2. Narrowing of the intervertebral spaces and the lumen of the spinal canal. Pathological mobility leads to subluxations of individual vertebrae and instability of the cervical spine as a whole. Sensory and motor disorders in the upper limbs. Vertebral artery syndrome.
  3. Additional narrowing of the spinal canal and the spaces between the vertebrae. Formation of disc herniations, as a result of which the symptoms intensify.
  4. Irreversible structural disorders - spondylolisthesis (displacement of the vertebrae relative to each other) and spondylosis (pathological growths of the bone tissue of the vertebrae). Destruction of discs with leakage of their nucleus pulposus. Permanent brain and motor disorders.


Treatment of osteochondrosis of the neck is carried out with the help of drugs and physiotherapy procedures. Massage, physical therapy exercises, manual therapy and acupuncture are also effective. The main group of drugs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In addition, in relation to cervical osteochondrosis, the local use of NSAIDs in the form of gels and ointments is preferable. Local irritants and chondroprotectors are indicated among the means for local treatment of cervical osteochondrosis. The treatment can be supplemented with taking immunostimulants and vitamin-mineral complexes.

Physiotherapy procedures (UHF, amplipulse, electrophoresis) have a similar effect - they eliminate pain, relieve muscle spasm, increase blood circulation and metabolism in the tissues of the neck. This is also facilitated by massage of the collar area with osteochondrosis. The neck is a vulnerable area. The slightest damage to the cervical vertebrae is fraught with serious consequences. Therefore, massage movements should be smooth, directed along the muscles. For the same reason for neck fragility, all special measures (manual therapy, cervical traction) should be performed by experienced specialists with great care. And in the course of recreational gymnastics, static loads with frontal and temporal zones, resting on the palmar surface of the hand, maximum bending of the head forward and to the side are preferred.

Prevention of osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae is aimed at eliminating provoking factors. Hypothermia should be avoided. Office workers, programmers, avid Internet users are recommended to take 15-minute breaks for remedial gymnastics every hour. And, of course, good nutrition and avoiding excess weight. And at the slightest sensation of pain and discomfort in the cervical region, it is better to use the Shants immobilizing collar. At the same time, attention should be paid to the treatment of existing chronic diseases of other organs and systems.

Cervical osteochondrosis: symptoms, signs and treatment

Today, a disease like osteochondrosis is very common and in many people it causes a feeling of fear and great fear. As medical practice has shown, several main reasons contribute to the appearance of the disease, which, as a rule, is provoked directly by patients. To avoid this disease and prevent its occurrence, you need to know its main symptoms and causes.

Causes of osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae

Most often, osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae manifests itself in the form of degenerative-dystrophic damage to the intervertebral disc. As practice shows, the disease appears and develops against the background of metabolic disorders that occur in the cervical region. In this case, there is a significant change in the structure and structure of individual vertebrae and intervertebral discs.

The course of the disease in osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae is slightly different from osteochondrosis that affects other parts (we are talking about lumbar and thoracic forms of osteochondrosis). This type of disease is more dangerous because it contributes to the direct damage of the root that deviates from the brain of the spinal nerve and thus disrupts the blood supply of the brain vessels due to the direct violation and compression of the blood vessels. .

In addition, the structure of the vertebrae (in this case more closely intertwined) in the cervical region is slightly different from the others, therefore, with the appearance of any change in the pathology, one of them undergoes a noticeable disturbance in the normal functioning of the entire spine. Therefore, with cervical osteochondrosis, the patient may be disturbed by such obvious signs as: frequent dizziness, impaired sensitivity of the muscles and skin of the hands, neck, face, constant headaches, unpleasant ringing and tinnitus or noise in the head, hearing impairment orvision, increased sensitivity, fatigue, hesitant and unstable gait, loss of coordination, etc.

So you should pay close attention to the fact that osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae occurs as a result of:

  • lifting heavy objects and loads;
  • work that is directly related to a constant change in the position of the body - we are talking about extension, flexion, circular movements, turns;
  • active sports and physical education;
  • incorrect posture when lying down, sitting, standing, as well as when lifting and carrying weights;
  • genetic predisposition;
  • unfavorable climatic conditions.

The main symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis

Often, the symptoms of osteochondrosis in the early stages of its manifestation may not be manifested in any way. After it has already passed into a more advanced stage, the disease begins to manifest itself with frequent spasms during any movement of the head and neck. However, the symptoms of osteochondrosis are quite diverse and are explained either by degenerative changes and disorders in the cartilage structure, or as a result of severe pinching by a displaced disc of the vertebral artery that passes between the discs.


The most important and first symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae are pain, which in the first stage can quickly pass and then become chronic. The pain may appear in the occipital muscles, shoulders and neck and become worse when turning or tilting the head and neck. Depending on where the lesion is located, the pain can be painful and constant. And it can be quiet for a while or it can be sharp and sharp. In addition, over time, any movements of the head and neck become difficult, which is associated with constant muscle tension in the neck area.

When the artery of the spine is pressed by cartilage tissue, an intervertebral disc or tense muscles, a person can be tormented by a cervical migraine (a headache that occurs as a result of oxygen starvation of tissues and weakened blood circulation), a strong jump in upward pressure, a short-term lossand disturbance of consciousness, appearance of ringing in the ears, hearing impairment, appearance of "flies" before the eyes, visual impairment. The headache is sometimes accompanied by vomiting or nausea.


Osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae can be accompanied by nausea. In addition, nausea is associated with impaired blood circulation in the cerebral vessels. Quite often, a person loses appetite, as a result of which there is a lack of nutrients in the body and the overall weight decreases. In more severe cases, the disease is accompanied by vomiting, which occurs when tilting the head, turning and even just walking. As already mentioned above, this is due to a violation of the blood flow process and insufficient oxygen supply to the inner ear, where the center of balance is located.

Lack of air

Symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae include such a symptom as shortness of breath. It occurs with direct damage to the cervical region and is expressed in irritation of the phrenic nerve. As a result, it becomes difficult for a person to breathe, the patient does not have enough air, there is a lack of oxygen, he begins to suffer from a lack of air, and even severe suffocation can occur.

As a rule, the lack of air is accompanied by snoring, especially with an uncomfortable position of the head at rest. This condition leads to the fact that a person wakes up very tired and absolutely broken, he is disturbed by general malaise and weakness. Prolonged stay in this state leads to a decrease in concentration, deterioration of memory and irreversible changes in brain tissue.

Ringing and tinnitus

Signs of cervical osteochondrosis sometimes appear in the form of ringing and tinnitus. Simply, the vestibular apparatus is enriched with blood exclusively from the vertebral artery system. That is why, with inflammation of the cervical region, a violation of the function of the inner ear occurs, as a result of which a person is tormented by ringing and tinnitus. Sometimes hearing impairment is added to the described symptoms.

Pharyngeal signs

Osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae can also manifest in this way. Often a person is disturbed by an unpleasant and constant feeling of dryness and sweating in the throat, difficulty swallowing, tickling and itching, a feeling of a foreign body. All these symptoms are directly related to the violation of the vascular and nerve trunks that exit from the spinal cord.

Visual impairments

The most common sign of cervical osteochondrosis is a deterioration of visual acuity. This is due to the fact that the visual analyzer is enriched with blood not only due to the carotid, but also due to the vertebral arteries. When these arteries are compressed, visual impairment occurs. In addition, patients may complain of:

  • low pressure;
  • atherosclerosis of the arteries of the brain;
  • inability to focus on an object;
  • "floating" or flashing dots;
  • sensation of a veil or mist before the eyes.

In this condition, eye exercises or the use of glasses do not show a positive effect. Only with appropriate treatment is there an improvement in vision.

Sudden loss of consciousness

The most dangerous and unpleasant sign that occurs with osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae is the unexpected loss of consciousness. This is due to a temporary stoppage of blood flow through the arteries of the brain. In this way, a pronounced spasm of the arteries is obtained, which arises from the side of the deformed processes of the bones of the vertebrae, as a response to irritation of the nerve endings.

But after losing consciousness, a person can quickly recover if he is given time to lie down and raise his legs to improve blood supply to the brain and increase blood flow from the legs.

Pressure instability

The symptoms of osteochondrosis do not end with the symptoms described above. Often there is spasm or instability of blood pressure, which occurs due to impaired blood supply. In addition, the pressure either drops sharply or, conversely, increases. The person's condition worsens and he needs complete rest.


Osteochondrosis is often accompanied by vertigo. In this case, such a phenomenon may have a spontaneous character. Vertigo is caused by a lack of oxygen reaching the inner ear canals. These channels are located in the brain and are entirely responsible for balance. Dizziness can occur with any movement of the neck or head. Often and with a sharp rise from a lying position.

How to treat osteochondrosis?

If a person notices one or more of the above and indicated symptoms behind him, then his initial action should not be self-medication on the recommendations of friends and relatives, but a timely visit to the appropriate doctor. The actions of a specialist are aimed at conducting tests to identify the main cause of osteochondrosis, as well as choosing the right treatment.

The treatment of the disease, taking into account the patient's condition and its degree, is complex. During the treatment, the doctor can prescribe therapeutic exercises, massage, use of drugs aimed at eliminating the causes of inflammation and relieving pain.

Therapeutic treatment

The drug treatment regimen is represented by the following groups:

  • Chondroprotectors - make it possible to stop the destruction of cartilage and contribute to the restoration of cartilage tissue.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) - effective removal of inflammation and pain, low risk of side effects, possibility of long-term use.

Treatment of the symptoms of osteochondrosis with ointments is quite popular, but ineffective. As a rule, ointments from the NSAID group or ointments that contain irritants are used for treatment.

Vitamins of group B are used against osteochondrosis.

Folk methods of treatment

Recipes for rubbing and ointments for the treatment of osteochondrosis:

  • Lemon. In the juice of one lemon, you need to add as much iodine as the juice is squeezed. Stir. This composition is for external use only. With a swab soaked in this solution, a strip is made every night along the entire spine.
  • Rubbing with honey. Mix a cup of honey, alcohol, aloe juice and turnip. Add to 1 tbsp dry mustard and mix well. Apply compresses for several hours.
  • Vinegar and egg. Make a mixture of vinegar and one egg: add vinegar to the egg and let it dissolve completely. Then add 90 g of butter and mix. A homogeneous white mass resembling oil should come out. Rub the solution into the painful areas.
  • Black peppercorns with camphor and gall. It will take 300 grams of medical bile and several bottles of camphor alcohol. Mix the ingredients in a glass bowl, add 3 pods of hot pepper and let it brew for a week. Apply compresses for 5-7 hours. Shake the paste thoroughly before use.

Osteochondrosis, like all other diseases, is much easier to prevent than to cure completely. In order to never suffer from this disease, you should lead a healthy lifestyle alternating between different sports. Nutrition should be strengthened and complete, smoking should not be the norm. By following simple rules, you will have more opportunities to live to a ripe old age without deterioration of the quality of life and pain.