Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

Cervical osteochondrosis

Osteochondrosis is a degenerative-dystrophic intervertebral disc lesion, and the cervical region is the most vulnerable part of the spinal space, having different anatomical structures from very close adjacent vertebrae and weak muscle corsets. Thus, even with a small additional load on the neck, vertebral displacement can occur, resulting in compression of blood vessels and nerves.

And because the vertebral arteries involved in the blood supply to the brain pass through the holes in the transverse process of the vertebrae in this part, pinching the vertebrae in this part or pressing the hole with an overgrown osteophyte is very serious.

What is this?

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is a progressive polyetiological disease that manifests itself as degeneration of the intervertebral disc and degeneration of the apparatus of the spinal ligaments.

Reasons for

The main causes and prerequisites for cervical vertebral osteochondrosis are:

  1. Curvature of the spine, scoliosis.
  2. Stress, nervous tension negatively affects the general condition of the body, can cause cervical osteochondrosis.
  3. Past infectious diseases are often the cause.
  4. Improper and uncomfortable body position during sleep (e. g. , uncomfortable pillows).
  5. Congenital problems or the presence of hereditary diseases of the cervical spine.
  6. Poor posture in young people and adolescents.
  7. Overweight, multi-stage obesity. The extra pound increases the load on the vertebrae and discs, leading to degenerative processes.
  8. Back injuries that may occur during childhood or adolescence.
  9. Disorders of metabolic processes.
  10. Occupations related to physical labor, which can trigger spinal diseases in various parts of it.
  11. Inactive lifestyle, inactive work, improper exercise.

For the successful treatment of cervical osteochondrosis, it is first necessary to determine the cause of its occurrence, the prerequisites that provoke its development and eliminate it. Until recently, the disease only occurred in people over 45 years of age. Now young people are exposed to it, the age range is 18-25 years.

Cervical spine features

Let us consider how the cervical spine differs from other spines, and that during the development of osteochondrosis is a prerequisite for the development of this syndrome.

  • In the cervical region there are important ganglia (nodes) of the autonomic nervous system.
  • In the transverse process of the vertebrae there are holes that form channels through the passing vertebral arteries, which supply oxygen and nutrients to the brain, cerebellum, auditory organs, and even the vertebral nerves. This is a prerequisite for frequent maintenance of arteries and nerves.
  • The cervical spine is the easiest to move. He is characterized by all kinds of movements completely. This is a prerequisite for frequent violations and subluxations.
  • The intervertebral foramen of the lower three vertebrae is not round, but triangular. This is a prerequisite for pinching nerve roots by bone growth formed in osteochondrosis.
  • The intervertebral disc is not located between the vertebral bodies along its length. On the front, instead of the side, there is a prominent vertebral edge, which is connected by a joint. This is a prerequisite for joint subluxation.

Development level

The degree of osteochondrosis is determined by the clinical picture and patient complaints. The concept of degrees should not be confused with the stages of osteochondrosis. The level is discussed below.

  1. First degree. Clinical manifestations are minimal, patients may complain of low-intensity cervical spine pain, which may worsen when turning the head. Physical examination may indicate slight muscle tension in the neck.
  2. Second degree. Patients are worried about pain in the cervical spine, the intensity is much greater, there may be radiation to the shoulders, to the arms. This is due to a decrease in the height of the intervertebral disc and pinching the nerve roots. The painful sensation increases when tilting and turning the head. Patients may see decreased performance, weakness, headache.
  3. Third degree. Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis increase, the pain becomes constant with irradiation to the arm or shoulder. Numbness or weakness appears in the muscles of the arm, when a herniated intervertebral disc is formed. Worried about weakness, dizziness. Examination showed limited movement of the cervical spine, pain on palpation of the cervical spine.
  4. Fourth grade. There is complete destruction of the intervertebral disc and its replacement with connective tissue. Dizziness increases, tinnitus appears, coordination disorders, as this process involves the vertebral arteries feeding the small brain and the occipital lobe of the brain.


The severity of symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis depends on the degree of destruction of the vertebral structure. Symptoms are exacerbated by bone tissue growth with osteophyte formation, radicular syndrome (radicular pain when nerves are pinched), intervertebral hernia (protrusion of the disc into the spinal canal).

The first signs of the disease are recurrent headaches in the occiput, pain in the neck, itching and clicking on the vertebrae when turning the head, and sometimes slight tingling in the shoulders. Over time, symptoms increase, and pain intensity increases

Pain syndrome is a major manifestation of osteochondrosis. Neck pain is either dull, persistent, or sharp with lumbago under the occiput when turning the head. The entire cervical area or projected area of ​​the vertebrae, as well as the clavicle, shoulder, scapula, and heart area, may be painful. Radiation of pain in the lower jaw, teeth, arms, ears, eye area is not excluded. Neck and shoulder muscles tense, pain on palpation. Difficulty lifting the arm from the side of the lesion - immediately there is lumbago on the shoulder or neck. Restriction of head movement due to pain often occurs in the morning after sleeping in an uncomfortable state.

This disease causes compression of the peripheral nerve root (radicular syndrome) and causes pain throughout this nerve. May be numbness in the hands or fingers, disturbances in the sensitivity of certain areas of the skin protected by pinched nerves.

Some characteristic symptoms indicate which vertebrae are affected:

  • C1 - sensitivity disturbances in the occipital area;
  • C2 - pain in the occipital and parietal areas;
  • C3 - decreased sensitivity and pain in the neck of the neck where the spinal cord is violated, possible impairment of tongue sensitivity, speech disorders due to loss of control over the tongue;
  • C4 - sensitivity and pain in the shoulder-scapular area, decreased tone of head and neck muscles, possible respiratory disorders, pain in the liver and heart;
  • C5 - pain and sensory disturbances on the outer surface of the shoulder;
  • C6 - pain extending from the neck to the shoulder blades, forearms, outer surface of the shoulders, radial surface of the forearms to the thumb;
  • C7 - pain extending from the neck to the scapula, back of the shoulder, forearm to fingers II - IV of the hand, sensitivity disturbances in this area.
  • C8 - pain and sensory disorders spreading from the neck to the shoulders, forearms to the little finger.

Cervical osteochondrosis is always accompanied by a headache. Severe and persistent pain is exacerbated by twisted neck or sudden movements. Some patients complain of heaviness in the head. Compression of the vertebral arteries causes dizziness, nausea. There was a sound, a ringing in the ears, a flash of black dots in front of the eyes. Deterioration of cerebral circulation causes a progressive decrease in hearing and sight acuity, numbness of the tongue, and taste changes.

Clicking or itching during neck movements almost always accompanies cervical osteochondrosis, which is observed in every patient. Cramps appear during a sharp rotation of the head or throw it back.

Cervical osteochondrosis syndrome

Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis are grouped into specific groups called syndromes. Its presence and severity may indicate pathology of the cervical spine with localization determined.

A group of common syndromes:

  1. Vegetative-distonic syndrome. Subluxation of the first cervical vertebra with displacement can lead to the development of vegetative-vascular dystonia. VSD is not a definitive diagnosis, as it has no obvious symptoms. There may be neurological signs, symptoms of impaired cerebral blood flow, surge in intracranial pressure, muscle spasms. As a result, the patient's complaints are reduced to dizziness, decreased visual acuity, loss of consciousness, headache, nausea.
  2. Irritating - reflexive. Burning and sharp pain in the back of the head and neck, sometimes with a return to the chest and shoulders, arises at the time of the change of position of the head and neck, with a sneeze and a sharp turn of the head.
  3. Radicular. If not called cervical radiculitis, it combines symptoms associated with violations of the cervical vertebral nerve root. Characterized by "shivering" in the affected area, tingling in the fingers, forearms, dry skin, spreading to certain fingers.
  4. Heart. Almost the same picture with angina pectoris often leads to incorrect diagnosis and treatment. This syndrome arises due to irritation of the phrenic nerve receptors, which partially involve the major muscles of the pericardium and pectoralis. Thus, spasms in the heart area are more reflexive, such as in response to cervical nerve irritation.
  5. Vertebral artery syndrome. It develops directly both by compression of the artery itself, and by irritation of the sympathetic nerve plexus, which is located in the vicinity. Pain in this pathology burns or throbs in the occipital area by spreading to the temples, superciliary arches, crowns. Occurs on one and both sides. Patients usually associate a severe condition with a state of sleep after sleeping in a non-physiological state, moving on the go, walking. With severe symptoms, hearing loss, dizziness, nausea, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness, increased blood pressure may occur.


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

From modern research methods, NMR and CT studies are used, which allows for the most accurate confirmation of the diagnosis. In addition to the additional research methods listed, you may need to consult with a related specialist (cardiologist, ophthalmologist, neurosurgeon), and examination by a neurologist is very important. A neurologist is involved in the treatment of osteochondrosis, therefore, after examining the patient, he, in his discretion, will prescribe the minimum examination needed.

How to treat cervical spine osteochondrosis?

Comprehensive treatment of cervical osteochondrosis can include the following traditional and non-traditional methods: drug treatment, massage, acupressure, manual therapy, physiotherapy, acupuncture, homeopathy, folk remedies, etc.

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

  • First you need to get rid of the pain.
  • Then swollen relief.
  • At this stage it is necessary to normalize blood circulation.
  • Strengthens the muscular corset.
  • Improves nutrition and tissue regrowth.
The list of drugs and medicines for the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis at home is very extensive:

  1. Anti-inflammatory (steroid). This is a hormonal drug that relieves inflammation and thus relieves pain;
  2. Analgesics (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). They are usually prescribed as tablets or capsules. Keep in mind that most of these drugs cause irritation of the mucous membranes of the digestive tract;
  3. Muscle relaxation is a drug that relaxes muscle tone. They are used in surgery and orthopedics as an aid in relieving pain. This drug is given parenterally and is therefore always under medical supervision. There is an extensive list of contraindications;
  4. Osteochondrosis of the neck
  5. Chondroprotectors are drugs that contain substances that replace cartilage tissue components. To achieve a lasting positive effect, the drugs must be taken for a very long time;
  6. Ointments and gels for external use. This is the easiest group of drugs to use at home. They are divided into relief of inflammation, warming and pain relievers. Such funds are often advertised. With cervical osteochondrosis, not all ointments are effective, moreover, due to their availability, they are sometimes used absurdly and without regard to the uniqueness of the pathogenesis.
  7. Vitamins. With osteochondrosis, vitamins are prescribed, which have a beneficial effect on the peripheral nervous system and increase conductivity. Water-soluble vitamins: B1, B6, B12, fat-soluble vitamins: A, C, D, E. In recent years, combined preparations containing both painkillers and vitamin components have become more frequently prescribed.

Only a team of specialists can select the most appropriate therapy, which includes neurologists, physiotherapists, massage therapists, surgeons, and vertebral neurologists.


Exercise therapy for cervical osteochondrosis should be performed outside of acute exacerbation. The greatest efficiency of this technique is during the recovery period. There can be no discomfort and pain during complex execution!

  • Exercise # 1. Lying on your stomach, place your hands on the floor, lift 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 # 2. Lie on your stomach, stretch your arms along your body, turn your head to the left, try touching the floor with your ears, then turn your head to the right. Repeat 6-7 times in each direction.
  • Exercise # 3. In a sitting position, while inhaling, bend forward, and try to touch your chest with your head, then exhale, bend backwards and tilt your head backwards. Repeat 10-15 times.
  • Exercise # 4. While sitting, place the palm of your hand on your forehead, press with the palm of your hand on your forehead, and your forehead on your palm. Continue this exercise for 30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
  • Exercise # 5. Turn your head slowly first in one direction, then in the other. 10 turns in each direction. Notice the dizziness. When it appears, training stops.

Massage Therapy

Massage can be done at home, but with great care not to aggravate and endanger the patient. The patient should take a prone position, place the forehead in the hand and stretch the chin toward the chest. Neck muscles must be fully relaxed.

  1. Caressing. It is necessary to begin the massage with this movement: caressing the collar zone in the direction from the lymph to the supraklavicular and axillary nodes. Then a flat swipe and comb are applied.
  2. Pushup. To perform push-ups, the masseur places hands on the neck (index finger and thumb should be together) and moves down the spine. Push-ups can also be done with the edges of the palms up to the shoulder joints.
  3. Therapeutic massage for cervical chondrosis
  4. Sweep. Rubbing is done to warm the muscles, relax them, and increase blood flow to the area. Massage should be started from the base of the skull, performing a circular and straight motion with your fingers. You can also do sawing movements with the palms parallel to the ribs.
  5. Knead. The neck should be kneaded in a circular motion.
  6. Vibration. The sequence ends with blows and vibrations, performed with concussions and knocks.

Massage is needed to strengthen muscle tone and relieve pain. Depending on the degree to which osteochondrosis occurs, massage techniques are chosen. However, when performing a neck massage, experts use all the classic massage techniques: rubbing, caressing, kneading, etc. If the patient only experiences pain on one side, the massage begins in the healthy part of the neck, gradually moving to the part of the collar zone where a painful sensation arises.

Manual therapy

Manual therapy helps to overcome acute and chronic pain, it also improves movement and improves body posture well. The main methods of manual therapy for cervical spine osteochondrosis:

  1. Soothing massage and segment. It is used to warm the muscles and relieve tension.
  2. Mobilization. Influence aimed at restoring joint function with traction.
  3. Manipulation. Sharp stress directed at the pathological area of ​​the patient. This procedure is accompanied by a special feature (return of the joint to its normal position).

Chiropractic practitioners should be fluent in this technique. Otherwise, any fault can result in injury.

Orthopedic pillows

Orthopedic pillow

Orthopedic sleeping pillows are an effective preventative tool. In many cases, osteochondrosis is exacerbated by the extra emphasis on the cervical arteries and nerve roots during sleeping on an uncomfortable pillow. Orthopedic products ensure a uniform horizontal position for a person during sleep and, thus, ensure a physiologically adequate blood supply to the brain.

When choosing a pillow, one should take into account one's anatomical features and relate them to the volume and characteristics of the filler. Properly selected pillows bring real benefits to patients with cervical spine osteochondrosis.


Physiotherapy procedure for cervical spine osteochondrosis:

  1. Electrophoresis. It must be used with an anesthetic, injected under the skin using an electronic pulse.
  2. Ultrasound. It has a beneficial effect on metabolic processes in the cervical spine tissue, as the swelling is removed, the pain disappears.
  3. Magnetotherapy. Safe treatment methods, which consist of exposing damaged cells to low-frequency magnetic fields. It has an analgesic effect, acts as an anti-inflammatory agent
  4. Laser therapy. Improves blood circulation in the affected area, relieves tissue swelling, pain.

Physiotherapy procedures have a beneficial effect on the disc and spine in cervical osteochondrosis. In combination with medication, combined treatment helps to get rid of the symptoms of the disease. The procedure is performed in a hospital or special room at the polyclinic. Before starting the course, you must consult a doctor, determine the duration of physiotherapy, its type. It is strictly forbidden to spread it during exacerbations.

Pants collar

Trench Collar

Shants collar is a soft and comfortable tool, fastened with Velcro on the back and used for cervical osteochondrosis. But not for treatment, but for temporary rest and to relieve fatigue. It should not be worn without removing it, otherwise the neck muscles will stop functioning and immediately develop atrophy. If the Shants collar is chosen correctly, the patient feels comfortable and protected.

The collar is strictly selected according to the measurements at the pharmacy or orthopedic store. It is better in a store, because people who work there, usually, know their business and product features well enough, which means they can help in every particular case.

Folk medicine

If the pain due to osteochondrosis of the spine becomes unbearable and normal, then you will agree to stop it, and here traditional complex treatment will successfully complement the traditional method.

  • insist celery root (5 grams per 1 liter of boiling water) for 4 hours, drink one tablespoon before each meal;
  • compress honey, for which we take 2 tsp. honey and 1 tablet of mummy. We heat the components in a water bath, spread on a cloth and apply to the cervical area, i. e. the neck, at night;
  • in case of acute pain, carrots growing in this country help me. I just wash the leaves, pour in boiling water, cool slightly, apply to the neck and wrap with a thin scarf for the night - in the morning you can already live and work;
  • we insist chamomile flowers in vegetable oil for two days, bring to a boil (for 500 ml of oil you need 30 grams of plant), apply to the affected area;
  • Honey-potato compress also helps, for this, the root crops must be grated and mixed with honey in equal amounts, rubbed on the sore neck at night, applied periodically, at least once a week.


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

Remember the simple rule:

  • Eat lots of calcium and magnesium foods. These are fish, peas, beans, peas, cheese, herbs, but it is better to stay away from sugar, flour, smoked, spicy.
  • regular exercise, especially swimming, water aerobics, and gymnastics for stretching and flexibility of the spine are also suitable for preventing osteochondrosis, which can be done at home.
  • while inactive, do a special set of exercises at least several times a day.
  • choose a good orthopedic mattress and a pillow that fits your neck, supporting the head in the correct anatomical position during sleep (yes, your favorite big bottom pillow will not go away with spinal problems! )

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

  1. Be careful with lifting and carrying loads, it is better to go to the store twice than to pull a heavy bag in both hands, strongly tying the tie and shoulders;
  2. Do not overheat, avoid airflow and cold air flow from the air conditioner (some people like to cool off on a hot day, standing with their backs to the fan);
  3. While bending the trunk forward - remember about osteochondrosis;
  4. Avoid overheating of the muscles, which can occur during a hot shower;
  5. Don't forget to disconnect from the monitor periodically, change body position, do not sit for hours, or even days;
  6. Relax your neck by buying a Shants collar;
  7. If possible, if the condition of the cardiovascular system is possible, 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 suffers from this disease for the rest of his life are only required to take preventive measures to avoid disability and not end up at the tablesurgery, however, this operation is quite complicated and requires long-term recovery. Also, it is not always possible, as there are unmanageable cases, so it is better to protect your health from a young age, as long as the disc is intact and unnecessary growth does not press the blood vessels.