Cervical osteochondrosis

Cervical osteochondrosis is a chronic degenerative disease in which the intervertebral discs located between the vertebrae are thinned and subsequently replaced by bone tissue. As the degradation process proceeds, surrounding structures are involved. This leads to a whole set of symptoms that completely overwhelm the patient's life.

Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis

General information

The intervertebral disc consists of a gelatinous nucleus surrounded by a dense fibrous ring, topped with a layer of cartilage tissue. They provide shock absorption to prevent damage to the vertebrae while running, walking and jumping, and also help improve flexibility and mobility throughout the spine.

During the natural aging process, and under increased load, the disc height gradually decreases. The metabolism of its core is disturbed, and fissures appear in the surrounding fibrous ring. There are disc herniations - herniations and hernias. As the disease progresses, cartilage tissue and bone become involved, and osteophytes -- bony growths that cause limited mobility and severe pain -- develop.

Since pathological changes occur in the immediate vicinity of the spinal cord and its roots, this leads to their compression and inflammation, as well as the development of reflexes of muscle spasms. As a result, a person develops characteristic symptoms that can suspect a disease.


Cervical osteochondrosis refers to a multifactorial disease. It occurs against the background of a whole complex of factors, each of which exacerbates the pathological process. The list of reasons includes:

  • overweight;
  • a sedentary lifestyle;
  • sedentary work;
  • incorrect posture;
  • Chronic diseases of the musculoskeletal system (scoliosis, flat feet), which lead to uneven distribution of load on the spine;
  • Congenital pathologies of spinal development, and injuries;
  • Excessive, repetitive stress on the spine;
  • genetic predisposition.

Symptoms and Syndromes

Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis do not appear immediately and often masquerade as other diseases.

The most common signs include:

  • dizziness: usually, with osteochondrosis, it is generalized, that is, it appears to the person that surrounding objects rotate before his eyes;
  • Pain in the back of the head, neck, neck area: its intensity depends on the degree of development of the disease; early mild attacks, spreading to the whole head, become permanent; periodic attacks become unbearable, with the result that a person cannot even move his bodyhead;
  • noise or tinnitus: occurs when changing position after prolonged immobility, often accompanied by dizziness;
  • A feeling of lack of air, an inability to breathe deeply; in severe cases, severe shortness of breath;
  • Nausea and vomiting: related to circulation disturbances in certain areas of the brain, worsened when trying to turn the head;
  • Diminished vision, flickering of flies or fog in front of the eyes: indicates insufficient blood supply to the brain; occurs in advanced stages of the disease;
  • Fluctuations in blood pressure that are difficult to correct with medication;
  • Sudden fainting due to vasospasm;
  • A feeling of a lump in the throat, sweating, dryness, difficulty swallowing: they are often one of the first signs of pathology.
  • shoulder pain
  • finger numbness

In addition to the general signs of cervical osteochondrosis, there are some characteristic syndromes of the disease.

spinal syndrome

The complex symptoms are related to damage to the bones and cartilage of the spine. This includes:

  • Impaired neck mobility;
  • Pain when turning the head;
  • X-ray signs of damage to the vertebrae themselves and the spaces between them.

vertebral artery syndrome

Symptoms are caused by narrowing or spasm of the vertebral artery, the part of the vertebral artery that supplies blood to the brain. It manifests with the following symptoms:

  • noise in the ears;
  • Dizziness;
  • High blood pressure;
  • nausea and vomiting;
  • Headache;
  • visual impairment;
  • decreased ability to work;
  • drowsiness;
  • faint.

Cardiac syndrome

It is similar to conditions with damaged heart muscle, including:

  • pain or burning behind the breastbone;
  • weakness and fatigue;
  • fast pulse.

nerve root syndrome

This condition is associated with nerve root damage (compression or crushing) that occurs in the spine in the neck area. Depending on the extent of the injury, a person may experience:

  • Numbness or pain in the back of the head;
  • tongue numbness;
  • collarbone pain, trouble swallowing, hiccups;
  • Discomfort in the shoulder, increased hand movement;
  • shoulder blade and forearm pain;
  • Numbness in the index and middle fingers;
  • Numbness in the ring finger and little finger.

In most cases, several nerve roots are simultaneously involved in the pathological process, so several characteristic symptoms are observed at the same time.


During development, cervical osteochondrosis goes through four successive stages (degrees), which determine the severity of symptoms and the general condition of the patient.

  • 1 stage. The thickness of the intervertebral disc is slightly reduced. Few symptoms, sometimes mild discomfort in the neck, for example, after holding an uncomfortable position for a long time.
  • 2 stages. The height of the intervertebral disc becomes smaller, pathological growth of cartilage tissue begins, protrusions (protrusions) appear. The pain becomes more intense and a stiff neck joins the mix.
  • 3 stages. The fibrous ring around the disc nucleus is torn, forming an intervertebral hernia. The spine is significantly deformed and the risk of vertebral dislocation and subluxation increases. The pain becomes permanent, and other symptoms of osteochondrosis join in.
  • 4 stages. Irreversible changes occur in the spine: bone growth occurs, discs are replaced by scar tissue and lose their ability to absorb load. Symptoms become apparent and have a major impact on the patient's lifestyle and health. Quality of life is declining.


To find the cause of pain or dizziness, patients can turn to doctors of various specialties: therapists, cardiologists, gastroenterologists, neurologists. For the diagnosis of osteochondrosis, a comprehensive examination is required, which includes:

  • Radiography and computed tomography: effective only in later stages of disease development, when changes become clearly visible;
  • Magnetic resonance imaging: due to the high degree of visualization, even the initial changes can be seen; is currently the main diagnostic method;
  • Dual Scan of Head and Neck Arteries: Allows you to assess blood flow quality and identify vasoconstriction; used to determine the cause of headaches and dizziness.

The patient must be investigated and examined to identify areas of pain and spinal mobility, and to assess the quality of reflexes. The differential diagnosis of diseases with similar symptoms to other diseases can be as follows:

  • EKG, echocardiography;
  • Monitor ECG and blood pressure daily;
  • chest x-ray;
  • Consultation of narrow specialists: cardiologist, ENT.


Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis requires a comprehensive approach that includes:

  • Medicinal effect;
  • physiotherapy;
  • physical therapy exercises;
  • massage;
  • Operation.

medical treatement

The main goals of drug therapy are to relieve pain and dizziness, restore normal function to the nerve roots, and, where possible, stop or slow the destruction of cartilage tissue. Allocation according to the situation:

  • NSAIDs (meloxicam, diclofenac, nimesulide, etc. ): intended to relieve pain and inflammation; available as tablets, injections, ointments, plasters;
  • Steroid drugs (hydrocortisone, dexamethasone): also used to relieve inflammation when NSAIDs are ineffective;
  • Muscle relaxants (mydocalm): drugs that eliminate reflex muscle spasms, thereby reducing pain and improving circulation;
  • B vitamins in injection or tablet form (milgamma, neuromultivit): Helps improve the conduction of nerve impulses;
  • Sedatives for severe pain to improve sleep and reduce the emotional component of pain;
  • Decongestants used to squeeze nerve roots;
  • Chondroprotectants: Drugs that help restore cartilage tissue.

According to the symptoms, some drugs can also be prescribed to improve the microcirculation of the blood vessels in the brain, drugs to prevent nausea and dizziness, etc.

non-drug treatment

It does not worsen with non-drug treatments. Use according to clinical conditions:

  • physiotherapy:
  • Laser Treatment;
  • magnetic therapy;
  • UHF therapy;
  • Acoustophoresis and electrophoresis;

Non-drug treatments can help reduce the severity of symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of exacerbations. It works indirectly:

  • Improve blood supply, metabolism and regeneration processes in the affected area;
  • enhance the effect of the drug;
  • Helps strengthen muscle structure and stabilize the spine;
  • Reduce the load on the intervertebral disc;
  • Eliminates muscle spasms and blockages.


Surgeon's help is necessary in advanced cases of the disease when medical methods are no longer effective. Several operations are currently in use:

  • Surgical removal of a herniated disc (microdiscectomy, endoscopic, or transfacet surgery);
  • Laminectomy: removal of the spinous processes or vertebral arches, which relieves the load on the root of the spinal cord;
  • Nucleoplasty: Repairs a hernia by removing part of the nucleus of the intervertebral disc.

It is important to remember that only a doctor can decide how to treat cervical osteochondrosis. The regimen is developed individually, taking into account the stage of the disease, comorbidities and individual characteristics of the patient's body.

Physiotherapy for Cervical Osteochondrosis


Osteochondrosis destroys the most important structures: blood vessels and nerves. If left untreated, the disease can lead to the following complications:

  • ischemic stroke;
  • Loss of sensory or motor function in the hand;
  • hard to swallow;
  • Violation of the thyroid gland;
  • Loss or significant decrease in vision.

In addition, damage to the intervertebral discs and joints can lead to limited neck mobility.


If attention is paid to the prevention of cervical osteochondrosis, even if there is a change, its progress will be significantly slowed down. Doctors recommend:

  • Live an active lifestyle to avoid fatigue;
  • Minimize or eliminate heavy lifting;
  • sleeping on orthopedic mattresses and pillows;
  • If you're going to be working in front of a computer for long periods of time, do a regular warm-up session.

The ideal exercise for osteochondrosis is swimming. Water eases the load on the spine, while active movement helps build the muscular framework.

clinic treatment

The clinic's doctors offer their patients a complex approach to cervical osteochondrosis treatment, including:

  • Chiropractic consultation;
  • Modern drug therapies for pain relief and disease relief;
  • Drug blockade for quick pain relief;
  • Effective types of physical therapy;
  • Perform exercise therapy exercises under the supervision of an experienced trainer, develop complex homework assignments;
  • consultation with a rehabilitation doctor;
  • massage therapy;
  • acupuncture;
  • If necessary, the services of a manual therapist.

Cervical disease

Violations of the cervical spine are often accompanied by weakness and headaches because the important blood vessel, the vertebral artery, runs through it. They are responsible for providing adequate nutrition to the brain, so when they are squeezed by displaced vertebrae or other structures, the blood supply to the brain is disrupted. This causes its tissues to become ischemic, with headaches, weakness, and many other symptoms. These include:

Today, people of different ages, sexes, social status are frequently diagnosed with osteochondrosis and its complications - herniation and intervertebral hernia. These diseases are characterized by degenerative dystrophic changes in the intervertebral discs that separate the vertebrae. As a result, their height is reduced, causing the vertebrae to converge and creating the prerequisites for encroaching on the roots of the spinal cord passing there.

If left untreated, the disc can develop degenerative dystrophic changes and, over time, develop a bulge -- a part of the disc that bulges outward. It tends to grow gradually and later transforms into an intervertebral hernia. In this case, the risk of nerve root compression increases dramatically.

In addition, osteochondrosis and its complications are accompanied by the formation of bony and cartilage growths (osteophytes) on the surface of the vertebral body. They can reach great size and, like a hernia, mechanically compress the vertebral arteries, which will cause weakness and headaches. At the same time, even without vertebral artery injury, headache is one of the main symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis.

Other symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis are:

  • Tilting, neck tightening when turning the head;
  • Neck pain radiating to the back of the head and arms;
  • Neck muscle reflex spasm, increasing pain;
  • movement restrictions;
  • Invasion of the sensitivity of various parts of the upper limbs, occiput, and neck;
  • difficulty swallowing, etc.

The disease does not go away on its own. It is characterized by periods of exacerbation and remission, but it progresses, requiring surgical removal of large hernias in advanced cases. Therefore, a neurologist should be contacted immediately when its symptoms appear.

when to see a doctor urgently

In some cases, you should seek immediate medical help when headaches and weakness occur together, as they may signal the development of dangerous diseases and conditions, including stroke and meningitis (inflammation of the meninges).

Warning symptoms are:

  • sudden severe headache;
  • Limited ability to tilt the head forward and press the chin toward the chest, with generalized weakness;
  • confusion;
  • visual impairment, speech impairment;
  • Limbs are numb.

diagnosis and treatment

Thus, headaches and weakness can accompany relatively harmless conditions as well as serious illnesses. If they occur with enviable regularity and you have other symptoms, you should consult a doctor: neurologist, cardiologist, endocrinologist. But when you're having a hard time guessing for yourself exactly what's causing your general health and headache violations, it's best to contact a therapist first. If necessary, the doctor prescribes additional research methods and, based on their results, taking into account the clinical situation, establishes a diagnosis or refers the patient to a specific specialist for treatment.

For diagnosing the cause of headache and weakness, the following is prescribed:

  • KLA, OAM, biochemical blood tests - allow you to detect inflammatory processes, as well as disturbances in the work of various organs, metabolism;
  • Electrocardiogram, heart ultrasound, neck and head vessels - provides data on blood vessels, the work and condition of the heart muscle;
  • EEG - allows you to detect changes in the function of various parts of the brain;
  • X-rays, CT, MRI of the cervical spine - to detect spinal lesions and assess their severity.

Based on the findings, it is almost always possible to determine the cause of the headache and weakness, allowing the selection of an effective treatment strategy. It is developed individually for each patient with the aim of improving the general condition and eliminating the detected disease. Therefore, it can be used in the treatment of headaches and weakness:

  • Drug therapy, including individually selected drugs, especially non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, for the treatment of migraines, improving blood supply to the brain, highly specific drugs;
  • Physiotherapy procedures help to increase the effectiveness of other treatments and to consolidate the results achieved;
  • Manual therapy, whose main purpose is to restore the spine, the state of which depends on the work of all organs and systems.

Regardless, worrisome symptoms such as headaches and weakness should not be ignored, especially if they occur frequently. In this case, you should definitely consult your doctor. This will avoid increased weakness, progression of existing pathological changes, and associated complications within a short period of time. After all, the earlier a disease is diagnosed, the easier it is to eliminate it.