What is cervical osteochondrosis and how is it treated?

According to statistics, the proportion of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine accounts for up to 80% of cases of back diseases. In traditional Eastern philosophy, it is not for nothing that the throat is called the mediator that connects spirit and flesh. Osteochondrosis and other diseases of the cervical spine (trauma, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. ) lead to a deterioration in cerebral blood flow.

Reasons for development

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

  1. Osteochondrosis is caused by working on a computer and driving a car in anatomically irregular postures (overhanging, leaning too close to the monitor, etc. ) and without taking breaks, which is recommended by all hygiene 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. Osteochondrosis can also be caused by trauma, hypothermia, and even a hereditary predisposition.

The establishment of such a diagnosis, the recognition and elimination of the causes of the disease and their treatment are in any case within the competence of a neurologist or vertebrologist.

Typical symptoms

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

  1. Pain in the neck area, sometimes lumbago pain, reflected in the back of the head or in the shoulder blades area, and the hands may be painful. With the slightest exertion, including sneezing, the pain sensations increase.
  2. The neck muscles are tense and, in severe cases, pain can be felt when touched.
  3. Swelling of the tongue, sometimes seems numb.
  4. A tingling sensation can be felt in the neck, shoulder girdle and hands.
  5. Muscle weakness can also occur with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine.

These are the main symptoms of osteochondrosis. But in general, the signs can be very different, the specific manifestations of the disease depend on the degree of damage to the nerve roots, which, in turn, determines the severity of the entire disease. As a rule, the symptoms are complex: pain is associated with a limitation in the mobility of this department. Also, these signs can develop very slowly, sometimes it takes years. But it also happens that the disease appears suddenly under the influence of one or more factors that provoke 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 does osteochondrosis manifest itself from the side of influencing the blood vessels? One of the characteristic symptoms is unequal blood pressure values in the left and right hands - this occurs as a result of muscle cramps.

Unfortunately, the manifestations of osteochondrosis are not always so pronounced that a person needs to see a doctor immediately. In general, this disease usually develops slowly; there are long-term remissions with short phases of exacerbation that are initially not particularly significant. This is the danger of disease.


Only a doctor can diagnose 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 images of the patient are even taken in an open mouth position. This helps to accurately determine the decrease in the height of the intervertebral disc, the narrowing of the opening between the bases of the cervical vertebrae and the presence of degenerative bone growth.
  2. In modern conditions, osteochondrosis is also diagnosed using magnetic resonance imaging. The images obtained in this way make it possible to determine the location of pathological changes with a high degree of accuracy. This technique differs from radiography in that it allows you to determine the presence of a protrusion or even a herniated disc.

Nevertheless, the X-ray remains the most important diagnostic procedure. To use this study to determine cervical osteochondrosis, you must review the images to check the curvature of the cervical spine. Usually the arch of the spine should be turned forward with an arch. The vertebrae should be of normal shape and the distance between them should be about the same.

X-rays show signs of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine in the form of a flattening of the arch and straightening of this section in the early stages. Later the convexity of the arch is replaced with a concave position.

The manifestations of osteochondrosis with its further development become even more visible in the X-ray image, since bone tissue grows at the same time: posterior and anterior osteophytes of the vertebral bodies are formed. But the gap between neighboring bodies begins to narrow. Arthritic changes can also become noticeable, which are expressed in contour irregularities.

This phenomenon is due to a spasm of the muscles in the neck. Doctors call it antalgic posture: this term is used in the conclusion based on the results of X-ray or tomography.

It is impossible to recognize osteochondrosis based on the clinical picture alone. Because similar symptoms occur in other conditions, including those affecting the digestive or cardiovascular system. Therefore, differential diagnosis is also carried out, which will help identify other pathologies. This is done with:

  • Ultrasonic;
  • endoscopic examination of the stomach;
  • EKG;
  • Electroencephalography, etc.

Complications of cervical osteochondrosis

Although there is no serious pain, many people take the disease too lightly and do not understand what cervical osteochondrosis can lead to. In fact, the neck is the most important part of the body's general blood supply system as large arteries (carotid arteries and vertebrae) run through it. But that's not all.

In the neck is a network of lymph nodes through which the spinal cord and nerve roots run, responsible for reflex communication with the hands, heart, and respiratory organs. If an error occurs here, it will affect the state of the body as a whole. Headaches, insomnia, and even persistent insomnia are just a few 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 intervertebral discs, which act as shock absorbers and protect the vertebrae, become thinner;
  • When the edges of the vertebrae approach each other, the nerve roots can become trapped, causing very severe pain.

Neck mobility can be lost, with pain accompanying any movement.


There is no need to be under any illusions: if the breakdown of cartilage tissue has already begun, when osteophytes have appeared, then these are not pathologies that can be eliminated with the help of drugs or physiotherapy, or even surgical methods.

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

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

When vertebral artery syndrome complements osteochondrosis, vestibular disorders are prevented and coordination of movements is restored. It is important to ensure the reduction in muscle hypertension.

It is necessary to comprehensively treat osteochondrosis of the neck. That is, not only to get rid of the symptoms of the disease, but also to try to get rid of the root cause.

taking medication

In severe cases, pain is relieved with analgesics and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In the most severe cases, treatment is given in the hospital, 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 carried out by an experienced specialist. And in fact, the blockade is not a full-fledged treatment method, but 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 drugs, including muscle relaxants for muscle relaxation, will be used for treatment.

Collar and therapeutic gymnastics

Collar for cervical osteochondrosis

It is also important to follow certain rules so that the condition does not worsen. For example, therapeutic exercises are carried out in a special orthosis or a cotton gauze collar to prevent microtraumas at nerve endings and to create a relative calm for the cervical spine.

It is imperative that the attending physician appoint a series of exercises designed to relax 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 trapezoid muscles, which are often in a state of hypertension in this disease.


In the initial stages of the disease, self-massage helps well, improving blood circulation and normalizing metabolic processes. You have 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 on the problem area and stroke with them across the neck from top to bottom. This movement is repeated 3-4 times. Then the neck is massaged with the thumbs according to the same principle, but more intensely. The neck muscles are kneaded first on the right, then on the left. The massage ends with light caresses.

Self-massage of the neck for osteochondrosis

How can you prevent cervical osteochondrosis?

It should be noted that preventing the disease is much easier than fighting it later. In addition, it is unlikely to be completely cured unless it is possible to slow its development. But for the prevention of cervical osteochondrosis, doctors provide useful advice that should be used.

  1. First of all, you need to try to reduce the load on the cervical vertebrae. To do this, you have to equip your workplace competently, especially if you have to work a lot on the computer. It is equally important to create 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, it is necessary to properly adjust the position of the headrest.
  2. Second, you need to take breaks from time to time while working in the same position. It is therefore recommended that you get up from the computer every hour and do light gymnastics. If that is not possible, you can just walk around the room. When doing sedentary work, from time to time you need to adopt a resting posture: round your back, lower your head, relax your hands and put them on your knees. You only need to sit in this position for a few minutes.
  3. Third, regular self-massage can prevent osteochondrosis of the cervical spine from occurring. You can use different techniques. Hydromassage is also suitable. It is enough to direct a sufficiently strong jet of water on the cervical vertebrae while showering and massage them in this way for literally 2-3 minutes.

To prevent osteochondrosis SHOP, you need to make sure that there is no hypothermia. In cold and humid weather, you cannot leave the house without a scarf and hat. And of course you shouldn't sit in a draft. At the same time, you should correct your habits. Do not hold the handset shoulder to your ear to release your hands. It is better to buy headphones - this will prevent tension and uneven strain on the muscles.