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 old.

consultation with a doctor about 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 spine. It consists of 7 beads. And if in the chest and waist 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 passes into a relatively static chest region. Therefore, 1, 2 and 7 beads differ significantly from each other

In addition to the spinal cord and spinal nerves, peripheral nerves originating from the brain also pass through the cervical region. Some of them, like the vagus, innervate the diaphragm and abdominal organs. In addition to nerves, the main blood vessels pass here. And if the blood supply through the carotid arteries and the exit through the jugular veins does 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 accounts for approximately 15% of the total volume of blood entering the brain. With cervical osteochondrosis, this artery can be pinched or squeezed by strained muscles or a displaced disc.


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

  • Legacy
  • Systematic violation of the attitude of school students, office workers
  • Poor nutrition with a lack of vitamins and minerals
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Frequent mechanical impacts, such as shocks, vibrations from vehicle drivers
  • Associated 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 posterolateral direction with irritation of nearby nerve fibers, impaired blood circulation through the vertebral artery. It is then that various sensory, motor and neurological disorders appear. Osteochondrosis of the neck is distinguished by the following symptoms:

  • Neck pain
  • Pathological tension of the neck muscles
  • Restriction of movements in the cervical region
  • Decreased sensitivity and range of motion in the shoulder girdle and upper limbs
  • Headache, dizziness
  • Unsteady gait due to coordination disorders
  • Nausea, urge to vomit
  • Periodic increase in blood pressure
  • Visual disturbances - a feeling of darkness and trembling flies before the eyes
  • Sometimes pain or feeling of a lump in the throat, toothache
  • Insomnia, or conversely, pathological sleepiness
  • Emotional instability - tears, irritability.

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

An exacerbation of cervical osteochondrosis begins with cervicago - a sharp pain that resembles a backache. Then, the cervical sciatic nerve develops with pain, movement disorders and muscle tension. The main cause of irritation is hypothermia. In addition to the local one, cerebral symptoms are also observed, due to the vertebral artery syndrome. The headache and dizziness may be so severe that the patient may lose consciousness.

Flow characteristics

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

  1. Intervertebral disc tissue thickens. Displacement of the disc is minimal, however, already at this stage, the outer fibrous sheath of the disc is cracked. In the cervical vertebrae, the uncinate processes grow compensatory. 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. Further narrowing of the spinal canal and the spaces between the vertebrae. The formation of disc herniations, as a result of which the symptoms increase.
  4. Irreversible structural disorders - spondylolisthesis (displacement of the vertebrae in relation to each other) and spondylosis (pathological growth of the bone tissue of the vertebrae). Destruction of the discs with the expiration of their nucleus pulposus. Persistent brain and movement disorders.


Treatment of osteochondrosis of the neck is carried out using medications and physiotherapy procedures. Massage, physiotherapy 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 gels and ointments is preferred. Local irritants and chondroprotectors are indicated among the means for the local treatment of cervical osteochondrosis. Treatment can be supplemented by 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 neck tissues. This is also facilitated by massaging the neck area with osteochondrosis. The neck is a vulnerable area. The slightest damage to the cervical spine is fraught with serious consequences. Therefore, massage movements should be smooth, directed along the muscles. For the same reason of neck fragility, all special measures (manual therapy, cervical traction) must be performed by experienced specialists with great care. And in the course of recreational gymnastics, preference is given to static loads with frontal and temporal areas that rest on the palm surface of the hand, maximum bending of the head forward and to the side.

Prevention of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is aimed at eliminating provoking factors. Hypothermia should be avoided. Office workers, programmers, avid Internet users are recommended to take 15-minute health-improving aerobics breaks 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 causes feelings of fear and great fear. As medical practice has shown, several main causes contribute to the appearance of the disease, which, as a rule, are directly provoked by patients. To avoid this disease and prevent its occurrence, you need to know its symptoms and main causes.

Causes of osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae

Most often, osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae manifests itself in the form of a degenerative-dystrophic lesion of the intervertebral disc. As practice shows, the disease appears and develops against the background of metabolic disorders occurring in the cervical region. In this case, there is a significant difference 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, which affects other parts (we are talking about the lumbar and thoracic form of osteochondrosis). This type of disease is more dangerous, as it contributes to direct damage to the root, which leaves the brain of the spinal nerve and, in this way, disrupts the blood supply to the cerebral vessels due to direct damage and compression of 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 interruption inthe normal state. functioning of the entire spine. That is why, with cervical osteochondrosis, the patient may be disturbed by such visible signs as: frequent dizziness, impaired sensitivity of the muscles and skin of the hands, neck, face, constant headaches, unpleasant noiseand ringing in the ears or ringing in the head, impaired hearing or vision, increased sensory fatigue, shaky and unsteady gait, loss of coordination, etc.

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

  • lifting items and heavy loads;
  • work that is directly related to a constant change in body position - we are talking about stretching, bending, circular movements, turns;
  • active sport and physical education;
  • incorrect posture during lying, sitting, standing body positions, as well as when lifting and holding weights;
  • genetic predisposition;
  • adverse weather conditions.

The main symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis

Often, the symptoms of osteochondrosis in the early stages of its manifestation may not appear at all. Already moving to a more advanced stage, the disease begins to appear with frequent cramping pain during every movement of the head and neck. However, the symptoms of osteochondrosis are quite different and are explained either by changes and degenerative disorders in the cartilage structure, or as a result of severe compression by a displaced disc of the vertebral artery, which passes between the discs.


The most important and first symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae are pain, which in the first stage can pass quickly and then become chronic. The pain may appear in the region of the occipital muscles, shoulders and neck and become stronger when turning or tilting the head and neck. Depending on the location of the lesion, the pain can be excruciating and permanent. And it can decrease for a while or be shooting and sharp. In addition, any movement of the head and neck becomes difficult over time, which is accompanied by constant muscle tension in the neck area.

When the spinal artery is squeezed by cartilage tissue, intervertebral disc or tense muscles, a person can suffer from a cervical migraine (a headache that occurs as a result of tissue oxygen starvation and poor blood circulation), a jumpstrong on upward pressure, a short-term loss and impairment of consciousness, the appearance of noise in the ears, hearing impairment, the appearance of "flies" before the eyes, impairment of vision. The headache is sometimes accompanied by vomiting or nausea.


Osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae can be accompanied by nausea. Moreover, nausea is associated with impaired blood circulation in the vessels of the brain. Very often, a person loses his appetite, as a result of which there is a lack of nutrients in the body and the overall weight decreases. In the most severe cases, the disease is accompanied by vomiting, which appears when tilting the head, turning, and even just walking. As 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 a symptom such as shortness of breath. Appears with direct damage to the cervical region and is expressed in irritation of the phrenic nerve. As a result, the person becomes difficult to breathe, the patient does not have enough air, there is a lack of oxygen, breathing begins to struggle and even severe suffocation may occur.

As a rule, lack of air is accompanied by snoring, especially during an uncomfortable position of the head when resting. This condition leads to the fact that a person wakes up very tired and absolutely broken, he is disturbed by mistreatment and general weakness. Prolonged stay in this state leads to decreased concentration, memory impairment and irreversible changes in brain tissue.

Tinnitus and tinnitus

Signs of cervical osteochondrosis are sometimes manifested in the form of noise and ringing in the ears. Only that 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, a person suffers from noise and tinnitus. Sometimes hearing impairment is added to the described symptoms.

Signs of the pharynx

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

Visual impairment

The most common and frequent 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 because of the carotid, but also because of the vertebral arteries. When these arteries are compressed, vision impairment occurs. In addition, patients may complain of:

  • low pressure;
  • atherosclerosis of brain arteries;
  • inability to focus on a subject;
  • "float" or flash point;
  • feeling of a veil or mist before the eyes.

In this condition, doing eye exercises or using glasses does not show a positive effect. Only with proper treatment is there an improvement in vision.

Sudden loss of consciousness

The most dangerous and unpleasant sign that appears with osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebra is a sudden loss of consciousness. This is due to a temporary interruption of blood flow through the arteries of the brain. Thus, a pronounced spasm of the arteries is obtained, which occurs from the side of the deformed processes of the vertebral bones, as a response to the irritation of the nerve endings.

But after losing consciousness, a person can recover quickly if he is given time to lie down and raise his legs in order to improve the 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 a spasm or instability of blood pressure, which occurs due to impaired blood supply. Moreover, the pressure either drops significantly, or, conversely, increases. The person's condition is deteriorating and he needs complete rest.


Osteochondrosis is often accompanied by dizziness. In this case, such a phenomenon may have a spontaneous character. Dizziness is caused by a lack of oxygen reaching the inner ear canals. These channels are located in the brain and are fully 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 cure osteochondrosis?

If a person notices one or more of the above and indicated symptoms, then his initial action should not be self-medication according to the recommendations of friends and relatives, but a timely visit to the relevant doctor. The actions of a specialist are aimed at performing tests to identify the main cause of osteochondrosis, as well as choosing the appropriate 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, the use of medications 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.
  • Non-steroidal 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 containing irritants are used for treatment.

Group B vitamins 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 was squeezed. Mix it up. This composition is for external use only. With a swab soaked in this solution, a strip is drawn along the entire spine every evening.
  • Honey rub. Mix a glass of honey, alcohol, aloe juice and radish. Add in 1 tbsp. l. dry mustard and mix well. Apply compresses for several hours.
  • Vinegar and eggs. Make a mixture of vinegar and an egg: add vinegar to the egg and let it dissolve completely. Then add 90 gr. butter and mix. A homogeneous mass of white color, resembling oil, should come out. Rub the solution on the painful areas.
  • Peppercorns with camphor and bile. It will take 300 gr. medical bile and a couple of bottles of camphor alcohol. Mix the ingredients in a glass bowl, add 3 chili pods 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 completely cure. In order to never suffer from this disease, you should lead a healthy lifestyle with different alternating sports. Nutrition should be fortified and complete, smoking should not be the norm. By following simple rules, you will have more chances to live to old age without deterioration of the quality of life and pain.