What is cervical osteochondrosis and how to treat it?

According to statistics, the share of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine accounts for up to 80% of cases of back diseases. Meanwhile, in traditional Eastern philosophy it is not in vain that the neck is called a mediator that connects mind and flesh. Osteochondrosis and other diseases of the cervical spine (trauma, rheumatoid arthritis, and so on) lead to a deterioration in cerebral circulation.

Reasons for development

There are several main causes of cervical osteochondrosis. It is quite possible for the person himself to avoid some of these phenomena:

  1. Osteochondrosis is caused by working at a computer and driving a car in anatomically irregular postures (slouched over, leaning too close to the monitor, etc. ), and without observing breaks, which is recommended by any sanitary standards.
  2. Improper diet and a sedentary lifestyle that weakens all muscles.
  3. There are risk factors that can only be eliminated with the help of drug therapy, for example, hormonal disorders, rheumatism, metabolic failure.
  4. Also, osteochondrosis can be caused by trauma, hypothermia and even a hereditary predisposition.

In any case, the establishment of such a diagnosis, the identification and elimination of the causes of the disease and its treatment are within the competence of a neurologist or vertebrologist.

Typical symptoms

All types of osteochondrosis are accompanied by pain. The difference lies in their localization. Signs of cervical osteochondrosis are as follows:

  1. Pains of an aching nature in the neck area, sometimes there are pains in the form of a lumbago, they are reflected in the back of the head or the area of the shoulder blades, and hands can hurt. With the slightest effort, including sneezing, the pain sensations increase.
  2. The muscles in the neck are tense, and in severe cases, pain can occur when touched.
  3. Feeling of swelling of the tongue, sometimes it seems that he is numb.
  4. Tingling sensations may be felt in the neck, shoulder girdle, and hands.
  5. In addition, with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, muscle weakness may occur.

These are the main symptoms of osteochondrosis. But in general, the signs can be very diverse, the specific manifestations of the disease depend on the degree of damage to the nerve roots, and this, in turn, determines the severity of the condition as a whole. As a rule, the symptoms manifest themselves in a complex manner: pain is combined with a limitation of the mobility of this department. Moreover, these signs can develop very slowly, sometimes it takes years. But it also happens that the disease occurs suddenly under the influence of one or more factors provoking it.

Pain in osteochondrosis of the cervical spine can manifest itself in different ways. This also applies to their intensity. Sometimes they are so painful that a person can practically lose their ability to work for several days or even weeks.

How is osteochondrosis manifested from the side of the influence on the blood vessels? One of the characteristic symptoms is unequal blood pressure readings on the left and right hands - this occurs as a result of muscle spasm.

Unfortunately, the manifestations of osteochondrosis are not always so pronounced that a person is immediately going to see a doctor. In general, this disease usually develops slowly, there are long remissions with short periods of exacerbation, which at first are not given much importance. This is the danger of the disease.


Only a doctor can determine cervical osteochondrosis. Various methods are used for this:

  1. The most common option is X-ray diagnostics. This study is done in frontal and lateral projections, and sometimes even images of the patient are taken in a position with an open mouth. This helps to accurately determine the decrease in the height of the intervertebral disc, narrowing of the opening between the bases of the cervical vertebrae, the presence of degenerative bone growths.
  2. In modern conditions, osteochondrosis is also diagnosed with the use of nuclear magnetic resonance imaging. The images obtained in this case make it possible to determine the location of pathological changes with high accuracy. This technique differs from radiography in that it allows you to determine the presence of protrusion or even a herniated disc.

Nevertheless, X-ray remains the main diagnostic method. To determine cervical osteochondrosis using this study, you need to review the images to check the curvature of the cervical spine. Normally, the arch of the spine should be turned forward with a bulge. The vertebrae should be of normal shape, and the distance between them should be approximately the same.

Signs of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine on X-ray can be seen in the form of flattening of the arch and straightening of this section in the early stages. At a later stage, the convexity of the arc is replaced by a concave position.

The manifestations of osteochondrosis with its further development on the X-ray will be seen even better, since at the same time bone tissue grows: posterior and anterior osteophytes of the vertebral bodies are formed. But the gap between adjacent bodies begins to narrow. Arthritic changes may also be noticeable, which are manifested in contour irregularities.

This phenomenon is due to spasm of the cervical muscles. Doctors call it antalgic posture: it is this term that will be used in the conclusion based on the results of radiography or tomography.

It is impossible to recognize osteochondrosis on the basis of only the clinical picture. Since similar symptoms occur in other diseases, including the digestive or cardiovascular system. Therefore, differential diagnostics is also carried out, which helps to identify other pathologies. This is done with:

  • Ultrasound;
  • endoscopic examination of the stomach;
  • ECG;
  • electroencephalography, etc.

Complications of cervical osteochondrosis

While there are no serious pains, many people take this disease too lightly, not understanding what the cervical osteochondrosis can lead to. In fact, the neck is the most important part of the general blood supply system of the body, since large arteries (carotid and vertebral) pass through it. But that's not all.

A network of lymph nodes is located in the neck, through which the spinal cord and nerve roots pass, which are responsible for reflex communication with the hands, heart and respiratory organs. If some kind of failure occurs here, it will affect the state of the body as a whole. Headaches, sleep disturbances and even lingering insomnia are just some of these consequences. But there are also more serious pathologies.

vertebral artery syndrome with cervical osteochondrosis

Due to a violation of the blood supply, the following can begin:

  • dehydration;
  • cartilaginous discs, which act as shock absorbers that protect the vertebrae, will become thinner;
  • when the edges of the vertebrae approach each other, pinching of the nerve roots can occur, causing very severe pain.

Neck mobility may be lost, with every movement accompanied by pain.


There is no need to entertain illusions: if the process of depletion of cartilage tissue has already begun, if osteophytes have appeared, these are not pathologies that can be removed with the help of medications or physiotherapy, or even surgical methods.

Therefore, it is impossible to completely cure osteochondrosis. But you can slow down its further development and get rid of pain and discomfort. Blood circulation can be restored.

Treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine should be aimed at reducing pain in the neck, shoulder joint, and in the upper extremities. It is very important to restore the mobility of the joint, and to strengthen the muscles of the neck and shoulder girdle.

If osteochondrosis is supplemented with vertebral artery syndrome, then vestibular disorders are prevented and movement coordination restored. It is important to ensure the reduction of muscle hypertonicity.

It is necessary to treat osteochondrosis of the neck in a comprehensive manner. That is, not only to eliminate the symptoms of the disease, but also to try to remove the very cause.

Taking medications

In severe cases, pain is relieved with analgesics and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In the most severe cases, treatment is carried out in a hospital setting, while analgesics are injected directly into the spinal cord. These injections are called a spinal block. It is clear that such injections can only be done by an experienced specialist. And in fact, the blockade is not a full-fledged method of treatment, but rather an ambulance. The medicine cannot repair the erased discs.

And in the future, orthopedic rehabilitation methods, physiotherapy, massage (but only outside the stage of exacerbation) and medications, including muscle relaxants for muscle relaxation, are used for treatment.

Collar and remedial gymnastics

collar for cervical osteochondrosis

In addition, it is important to follow certain rules so that there is no deterioration in the condition. For example, therapeutic exercises are carried out in a special orthosis or cotton-gauze collar to prevent microtrauma of nerve endings and create relative rest for the cervical spine.

The attending physician must necessarily appoint a set of exercises aimed at relaxing the muscles in the problem area. It is especially important to achieve relaxation of the muscles most involved in the pathological process. These are the deltoid and trapezius muscles, which are often in a state of hypertonicity in this disease.


In the initial stages of the disease, self-massage helps well, which improves blood circulation and normalizes metabolic processes. You need to do it every day. To do this, you need to sit on a chair in a comfortable position, press 4 fingers of your palm to the problem area and stroke the back of the neck with them from top to bottom. This movement is repeated 3-4 times. Then, according to the same principle, but more intensively, the neck is massaged with thumbs. The muscles of the neck are kneaded with pinches, first on the right side, then on the left. The massage ends with light pats.

self-massage of the neck with osteochondrosis

How to prevent cervical osteochondrosis?

It should be noted that it will be much easier to prevent the disease than to fight it later. Moreover, it is unlikely that it will be possible to completely cure it, unless it is possible to slow down its development. But for the prevention of cervical osteochondrosis, doctors give useful advice that should be used.

  1. First, you need to try to reduce the load on the cervical vertebrae. To do this, you need to competently equip your workplace, especially if you have to work a lot at the computer. It is equally important to arrange a place to relax, to take care of a comfortable bed with a good mattress and pillows. If a person spends a lot of time behind the wheel, then you need to correctly adjust the position of the headrest.
  2. Secondly, when working in the same position, you need to take breaks from time to time. So, every hour it is recommended to get up from the computer and do light gymnastics. If this is not possible, you can just walk around the room. When sedentary work, you need to take a resting posture from time to time: round your back, lower your head, relax your hands, putting them on your knees. In this position, you need to sit for just a couple of minutes.
  3. Thirdly, the appearance of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine can be prevented by periodically doing self-massage. You can use different techniques. Hydromassage is also suitable. It is enough, while taking a shower, to direct a sufficiently strong stream of water to the cervical vertebrae and massage them in this way literally for 2-3 minutes.

To prevent osteochondrosis SHOP, you need to ensure that there is no hypothermia. In cold and damp weather, you cannot leave the house without a scarf and headgear. And, of course, you shouldn't sit in drafts. At the same time, you should correct your habits. Do not hold the handset against your ear with your shoulder to free your hands. It is better to buy headphones - this will prevent tension and uneven stress on the muscles.