Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine: symptoms and treatment

What is cervical osteochondrosis

The main causes, symptoms and prevention of cervical osteochondrosis. Bonus: preventive gymnastics.

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is a degenerative-dystrophic lesion of the intervertebral disc in the cervical spine. With age and the absence of treatment and prevention, the disease tends to develop. Osteochondrosis is one of the most common spinal diseases.

If pain appears in this area, you should see a doctor as soon as possible, as progressive osteochondrosis causes serious deterioration in health, leading to vision problems, persistent migraines, and can even lead to death.

Osteochondrosis is not necessarily an age-related change, it often affects people at a young age.

Eight leading causes of osteochondrosis

  • descent,
  • injury,
  • excessive physical activity,
  • age-related changes,
  • metabolic disorders,
  • inactive work (hypodynamia),
  • incorrect body position during sleep,
  • stress (psychosomatic).

If there are one or more symptoms, you should see a doctor for treatment or prevention.

Causes of cervical osteochondrosis

Causes of cervical spine osteochondrosis can vary. It is not just age-related changes that can trigger disease. The disease also affects young people who prefer to work inactive.

Inactivity is the most common cause of osteochondrosis. Lack of moderate exercise causes muscle weakness and poor circulation. Further nerve infections and the appearance of intervertebral hernias are possible.

Factors contributing to the development of cervical osteochondrosis

  1. Violations of the structure and location of the brain stem compared to the spine and defects of the first cervical vertebra.
  2. Obtaining forms of disability - kyphosis, lordosis, scoliosis and their combinations.
  3. Elderly people over 60 years old. At this age, natural age-related changes in the vertebral disc occur. Excessive bone growth.
  4. Poor posture due to uncomfortable or prolonged posture.
  5. Injuries to the cervical spine.
  6. Incorrect muscle loading.
  7. Obesity.

If the load on the muscle is asymmetrical, it can cause deformation. This change is due to the habit of lifting weights with one hand, carrying a bag on one shoulder, and using pillows that are too soft while sleeping.

Degree of osteochondrosis

Modern science knows the three main stages of the development of cervical osteochondrosis. They differ from each other in the degree of damage to the spine and in the method of treatment.

Osteochondrosis first degree

It begins with the rupture of the intervertebral disc capsule and the appearance of microcrats on the annulus fibrosus. This type is characterized by degenerative transformation of the cervical joint and changes in tissue structure.

Signs of osteochondrosis first degree:

  • worried about joint pain in the neck and shoulder girdle, vasoconstriction occurs and blood circulation is disrupted;

  • the appearance of pain in the neck with a sharp rotation of the head, indicating compression of the nerve endings;
  • discomfort in the cervical area, temples, occiput and persistent headache;
  • blurred vision, the appearance of flies and blindfolds.

Osteochondrosis second degree

Characterized by decreasing distance between vertebral discs. It causes pain at points with loads, making it difficult to turn or tilt the head.

Osteochondrosis third degree

It is expressed as a chronic disorder of the musculoskeletal function of the spine. Significant changes in spinal structure can be seen.

Lack of treatment at this stage can lead to stroke. Death is possible.

Signs of osteochondrosis third degree:

  • partial or complete paralysis of neck and shoulder joints;
  • decreased upper limb sensitivity;
  • herniated discs become visually noticeable;
  • death of certain parts of the cerebral cortex due to circulatory disorders and lack of adequate oxygen supply.

In the third stage of osteochondrosis, surgery should be performed.

Symptoms of osteochondrosis in various parts of the spine

Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis:

symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis
  • sharp pain in the neck, entering the upper limbs,
  • headache,
  • fingers may be numb,
  • high blood pressure,
  • affected movement coordination,
  • feelings of stiffness in movement,
  • nausea attacks are not excluded,
  • when nerves are pinched, pain is felt when swallowing,
  • Painful sensations on teeth are possible.

Symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis:

  • chest pain, which can radiate to the heart, lungs, into the shoulder blades,
  • painful sensations throughout the spine,
  • rib pain,
  • shoulder pain,
  • spots in front of the eyes,
  • tinnitus.

Osteochondrosis of the lumbosacral region:

  • menstrual disorders
  • lumbar pain syndrome that enters the lower leg
  • lumbago
  • hernia between vertebrae
  • increased fatigue.

Women with suspected osteochondrosis are given X-rays, CT and MRI, ultrasound and neuromyography. They may recommend seeing a mammologist and gynecologist to exclude diseases similar to their symptoms with osteochondrosis.

Osteochondrosis in women

In women, as in men, there are three main types of osteochondrosis, these are:

  • cervix,
  • lumbar,
  • dada.

Women are more likely than men to develop osteochondrosis in the cervical and thoracic areas. This phenomenon is due to the fact that in men, naturally, the neck muscles of the neck are more developed. Therefore, these departments get the best support. Therefore, it is necessary, if possible, to strengthen the back and neck muscles with appropriate exercise.

Often, cervical osteochondrosis manifests itself in women who lead an inactive lifestyle or engage in inactive work (office work, salespeople, drivers), and osteochondrosis of the thoracic region most often occurs in women who have suffered from scoliosis since childhood.

Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis

diagnosis and treatment of osteochondrosis

To make a correct diagnosis, you need to make an appointment with a doctor. Other diseases can also be hidden under the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis.

Cervical osteochondrosis does not have the ability to pass on its own and, entering the last third stage, can be fatal.

Timely treatment will help avoid serious and irreversible consequences.

Diagnosis of osteochondrosis

Here is an example list of specialist doctors who will help you understand the problem.

  • General practitioner (general practitioner). Therapists perform general diagnostics without treatment, prescribe general tests (urine, blood biochemistry). They take into account your complaint and provide further reference to the appropriate specialist.
  • Neurologist. A neurologist deals with the treatment of early and middle stage cervical osteochondrosis. At the stage of visiting a neurologist, as a rule, X-rays of the spine are performed. With confirmed osteochondrosis, appropriate treatment is chosen.
  • Trauma surgeon. Consultation with this specialist is prescribed in case of changes in the tissue. Possible MRI appointments, spondylography, CT. Further treatment is also selected.
  • Neurosurgeon. Consultation with a neurosurgeon is prescribed if an intervertebral hernia is suspected, referring to CT and MRI results.
  • Physiotherapist. Dealing with the elimination of clinical manifestations of osteochondrosis.
  • Rehabilitologist. Treatment by a rehabilitation therapist indicates a period of recovery after surgery. During this period, special therapy exercises (exercise therapy) are selected.
  • Chiropractor. Prescribed to relieve pain.
  • Rheumatologist. Advise and prescribe diagnostics to people with various forms of arthritis.
  • Oncologist. Visiting an oncologist is indicated for individuals with suspicious CT and MRI findings. Expert consultation helps confirm or exclude the presence of tumor disease in bone tissue. A biopsy may be prescribed.

Modern methods of treatment of osteochondrosis:

  • surgical intervention (with irreversible changes,
  • osteopathy,
  • manual therapy,
  • physiotherapy,
  • massage,
  • works with psychosomatics,
  • reflexology,
  • drug therapy.

Drug therapy

The goal of drug therapy is to relieve inflammation and pain. Properly selected medication restores blood circulation and healthy tissue nutrition.

In the acute stage, drug therapy stabilizes the patient's condition and prepares him for the next stage of treatment. Ointments, muscle relaxants, corticosteroids and vitamin complexes are used.


Physiotherapy involves a combination of natural effects and hardware on the body. Effectively relieves pain and restores physical activity.

Manual therapy

Manual therapy is effective when supervised by a good specialist.

Massage stimulates blood circulation and improves tissue nutrition. Manual therapy is suitable for home use (masseurs and various applicators).

Before using manual therapy products at home, you should consult a specialist.


Reflexotherapy has an effect because of its effect on the biological active point of the body. It can be done in the form of acupuncture, acupressure, sometimes moksibusi. If you have chosen this specific treatment method, make sure you have a qualified specialist in front of you, as exposure to inappropriate biological points can lead to negative consequences.

exercise therapy

Physiotherapy training (LFK) for osteochondrosis is prescribed without fail at the recovery stage. The purpose of exercise therapy is to strengthen ligaments and muscles, exercise helps restore blood flow.

Properly selected exercises can help prevent recurrence and deeper damage.

Exercises for cervical osteochondrosis

In conclusion, we show you some exercises from the physiotherapy training complex.

Consult a doctor before exercising.

Complex exercise therapy exercises can be uncomfortable, so before doing so, try to rest as much as possible and keep breathing in a calm and measurable state.

It is not recommended to overload the muscles while exercising. Do as much as you can, then, after resting, return to exercise.

To achieve the final recovery effect, it is necessary to perform up to 300 movements on the diseased spinal space and 100 repetitions for the adjacent parts.

When cervical osteochondrosis is recommended to avoid sudden head movements. Exercise in a standing position, straight back, feet shoulder-width apart (repeat 15 times):

  1. Tilt your head to the left, hold for 10 seconds. Puts pressure on the shoulders, tightens the neck muscles and withstands the pressure. Repeat the same movement to the right. Repeat the first exercise, bending forward and backward.
  2. Turn the head to the right, trying to reach the shoulder with the chin, hold the movement for a few seconds. Repeat the exercise by turning left.
  3. Use your chin to draw numbers from 0 to 9 in the air.

Back Training:

  1. Lift your head and hold for 10 seconds. Lower your head and rest for five seconds.
  2. Pull your chin towards the ceiling and hold for 10 seconds, then slowly lower your head.

Side Laying Exercises:

  1. Lift your head and hold it parallel to the floor for 10 seconds. Then, slowly lower your head, pausing for a few seconds.
  2. Repeat this exercise while lying on the other side.