Symptoms and treatment of cervical osteochondrosis

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is the result of a sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition. The first signs of the disease can appear as early as 25 years of age; if treatment is not started, severe complications will arise. In the treatment of the disease, an integrated approach is used - drug treatment, diet therapy, physical therapy and physiotherapy.

symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis

Causes of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

Cervical osteochondrosis is degenerative-dystrophic changes in the intervertebral discs and joints, which leads to decreased neck mobility and the appearance of severe pain. The main reason for the development of the disease is a violation of mineral metabolism, which causes bones and joints to become less strong. ICD-10 code – M42, M50–54.

Why does cervical osteochondrosis occur?

  • overweight, sedentary lifestyle;
  • poor posture, scoliosis;
  • rheumatism;
  • flat feet;
  • VSD;
  • poor nutrition.

Injuries, bruises of the spine, excessive physical activity, and stress can provoke the development of deformation of the cervical vertebrae. In women, osteochondrosis often occurs during pregnancy, menopause - against the background of hormonal changes, the amount of calcium decreases, bone tissue becomes fragile.

Important! Predisposition to osteochondrosis is inherited.

General symptoms and signs

With constant increased load on the cervical vertebrae, muscle spasm occurs, the vessels of the cervical spine are compressed, the blood circulation is disrupted, disruptions in metabolic processes occur - the structure of the intervertebral discs changes, they become deformed, and begin to protrude beyond the spinal column.

How does osteochondrosis of the cervical spine manifest:

  • radicular syndrome - against the background of compression of nerve endings, pain occurs that spreads from the neck to the shoulder blades, forearms, and covers the anterior wall of the chest;
  • muscle weakness in the arms, noticeable swelling of the neck;
  • when you move your head, you hear a characteristic crunch;
  • weakness, chronic fatigue, changes in blood pressure;
  • lack of coordination, often dizziness, attacks accompanied by nausea, vomiting;
  • deterioration of vision and hearing, noise, ringing in the ears;
  • numbness of limbs, tongue;
  • frequent migraines;
  • in women aged 45–65 years, pain, numbness, and tingling in the upper extremities appear during sleep; attacks can be repeated several times during the night.

With cervical osteochondrosis, nutrition and blood supply to the brain are disrupted, neurotic disorders occur - anxiety, irritability, mood swings, sleep disturbances.

Classification of cervical osteochondrosis

As osteochondrosis develops, it goes through several stages of development, each of which has characteristic signs. You can see in the photo what the affected part of the spine looks like at different stages.

Degree of disease development:

  1. Osteochondrosis of the 1st degree - the initial stage occurs without particularly pronounced symptoms, the person is bothered by rare and minor pain when turning and tilting the head, the back muscles quickly get tired.
  2. Osteochondrosis of the 2nd degree - the vertebrae become unstable, a nerve is pinched, unpleasant sensations in the neck become pronounced, radiating to the shoulder and arm. Additional symptoms are increased fatigue, frequent headaches in the occipital region, absent-mindedness.
  3. Osteochondrosis of the 3rd degree - the pain becomes chronic, covers the upper back, arms, severe muscle weakness is observed, the limbs go numb, an intervertebral hernia develops, and attacks of dizziness often occur.
  4. Osteochondrosis of the 4th degree - complete destruction of the intervertebral discs occurs, they are replaced by connective tissue, the pathological process covers several segments of the spine. There is a lack of coordination, attacks of dizziness become more frequent, and tinnitus appears.
pain with cervical osteochondrosis

Acute osteochondrosis is a consequence of the chronic form of the disease, characterized by a severe attack of sharp pain that occurs suddenly after waking up.

Which doctor should I contact?

If signs of cervical osteochondrosis appear, you need to visit a neurologist; some hospitals have a vertebrologist - a specialist who treats diseases of the spine.

Diagnostic methods

Advanced forms of osteochondrosis have a pronounced clinical picture, which allows an initial diagnosis to be made already during the initial examination. Instrumental diagnostic methods will help to identify the degree of degenerative changes in the vertebrae.

Main types of examinations for osteochondrosis:

  • x-ray– the method is effective only in the early stages of pathology development;
  • MRI– the structure of bone structures, the size and direction of development of intervertebral hernias, and the condition of the spinal cord are clearly visible on the screen;
  • CT– the method is less effective than MRI, since it does not provide accurate information about the presence and size of hernias;
  • duplex scanning– allows you to see blood flow disorders;
  • electroneurography– shows the presence of pinching, inflammation, and other nerve damage;
  • rheoencephalogram– prescribed for problems with blood supply to the brain.
diagnosis of cervical osteochondrosis

For a targeted and thorough study of the condition of certain vertebrae, discography is performed - a contrast agent is injected into the intervertebral disc, which allows you to see the slightest changes in the tissues and distinguish scar changes from a hernia.

Methods for treating cervical osteochondrosis

At the initial stage of development, osteochondrosis can be cured without medications; it is enough to review the diet, daily routine, and regularly perform a set of special exercises. In advanced forms of the disease, effective treatment is only possible with the use of various medications that help stop degenerative changes in the vertebrae.

The complex of therapeutic measures necessarily includes physical procedures - electrophoresis with drugs, ultrasound, magnetic therapy, laser therapy. These methods help cope with pain, inflammation, swelling of tissues, improve metabolic processes and blood circulation.

First aid

Painkillers will help relieve pain due to osteochondrosis. You can warm the affected area with mustard plaster or pepper plaster.

To reduce swelling of inflamed tissues, drink rosehip decoction and other diuretics. Massaging the inflamed area with an ice cube will help relieve severe pain in the neck; continue the procedure until the skin becomes slightly red.


Exercise therapy is prescribed during the recovery period; during an exacerbation of osteochondrosis, physical exercise is contraindicated; gymnastics is simple, you can do it at home, and you need to do it regularly.

Bubnovsky’s gymnastics for the treatment and prevention of cervical osteochondrosis:

  1. In a standing position, lower your arms freely along your body. Tilt your head forward, try to reach your chest with your chin, fix the position on the count of 3. Tilt your head back, chin looking up, count to 3. Return to the starting position.
  2. In a standing position, turn your head to the right, left, and fix the position at each extreme point for several seconds. Repeat 3 times on each side.
  3. In a standing position, tilt your head to the right, left, try to reach your shoulder with your ear, and hold the position for 30 seconds. Perform 6 repetitions in each direction.
  4. Standing, hands on your belt, chin parallel to the floor, extended forward. Turn your head, rest your chin on your shoulder, turn your torso a little, hold for half a minute. Do 6 repetitions in each direction; slight pain in the spine may occur.
  5. In a sitting position, back straight, hands on knees. Extend your straight arms to the sides, move them back a little, tilt your head back at the same time, return to the starting position, repeat 5 times.
  6. In a sitting position, turn your head to the right, place the palm of your left hand on your right shoulder, elbow parallel to the floor, right hand resting on your knee, return to the starting position. Perform 6 repetitions in each direction.
  7. In a sitting position, raise your arms above your head, connect them well, bend your elbows slightly, turn your head to the side until a slight pain appears, fix the position at the extreme point for a few seconds. Repeat 6 turns in each direction.

Take a break of 30 seconds between exercises. Before starting gymnastics, you need to take a warm shower and do several smooth head tilts in different directions to warm up your muscles. After completing the exercise, light stretching will help avoid discomfort the next day.

Drug treatment

Drug therapy for osteochondrosis is aimed at eliminating unpleasant sensations, restoring vertebral mobility, and slowing down degenerative changes in tissues. Acute attacks of pain are relieved with injections of NSAIDs or corticosteroids, while the chronic form of the disease is treated with ointments and tablets.

How to treat osteochondrosis:

  • NSAIDs– produced in the form of tablets and products for external use, eliminate swelling and pain;
  • corticosteroids– relieve acute pain syndrome;
  • B vitamins– restore metabolic processes in tissues;
  • chondroprotectors– promote the restoration of cartilage tissue;
  • drugs to improve blood flow and brain nutrition;
  • nootropics– improve brain function and memory;
  • muscle relaxants– eliminate muscle spasms;
  • For local treatment, ointments and gels with anti-inflammatory, warming effects are used.

For drug therapy to be effective, it is necessary to combine it with exercise therapy and adhere to a diet, otherwise no medications will help get rid of osteochondrosis.

Important! If there is no effect from conservative treatment, surgery is prescribed.

Folk remedies

Traditional treatment should be used as a complement to drug therapy and physical exercise; unconventional methods will not help to completely get rid of the disease.

What to do for cervical osteochondrosis at home:

  1. Pour boiling water over a fresh leaf of horseradish, cool slightly, apply the inside to the neck, secure with a thin natural fabric. Do the procedure before going to bed, leave the compress on all night.
  2. Grate raw potatoes on a fine grater and mix in equal proportions with warm liquid honey. Use the mixture for compresses, carry out the procedure 1-2 times a week.
  3. Mix a raw egg with 100 ml of sunflower oil, 20 ml of vinegar and 20 g of flour, put the mixture in a dark place for 48 hours, remove the film from the surface. Apply the product to the inflamed area before going to bed and store in the refrigerator.
  4. In May, collect pine buds up to 2 cm long, cut into thin slices, and place in a dark glass container. For 1 part of raw materials, take 2 parts of sugar, put the medicine in a dark place for 2 weeks. Drink 5 ml of the mixture three times a day, do not swallow immediately, hold it in your mouth for 2-3 minutes. Course duration is 15–20 days, repeated 2–3 times a year.
  5. Grind 150 g of peeled garlic and 400 g of cranberries, put the mixture in a glass container, after 24 hours add 800 ml of honey, stir. Take 5 ml of medication three times a day before meals.
folk remedies for the treatment of osteochondrosis

A cabbage leaf smeared with honey will help you cope with severe pain and draw out excess salts; fix the compress on your neck with a warm scarf and leave it overnight.

Massage for cervical osteochondrosis

Massage helps strengthen muscle tone, improve blood circulation in tissues; in severe forms of osteochondrosis, sessions are performed by a specialist. In mild forms of the disease, self-massage will help for prevention - treatment is carried out at home.

Massage technique:

  1. Warm up your muscles– with both hands, intensively run along the back, side surface of the neck from top to bottom. Warm-up time: 2 minutes.
  2. Press the edge of your palm to the bottom of your neck,move with sliding movements to the area of hair growth, then to the shoulder joints.
  3. Make rubbing circular movements with the fingertips of both handsin the occipital region from the hairline to the forearms - from the spine to the ears and back.
  4. Pinch the neck muscles from bottom to top, then in the opposite direction.
  5. Stroking from the back of the head to the shoulder blades– carry out after each type of exercise.

Important! Do not massage protruding vertebrae, lymph nodes, or carotid arteries.


The purpose of the diet for osteochondrosis is to provide the body with collagen and proteins; these substances take part in the synthesis of cartilage tissue; most of them are found in aspic, jellied fish, and jelly.

Prohibited Products Authorized products
  • any alcoholic drinks;
  • fatty meat, refractory fats, smoked meats;
  • soups with rich broths;
  • hot, spicy dishes, canned food, marinades;
  • mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup;
  • radish, radish, horseradish, onion, garlic;
  • fast food, semi-finished products;
  • fast carbohydrates - sweets, baked goods, pasta made from premium flour;
  • potato;
  • limit salt intake to 5 g per day.
  • dietary meats;
  • fish, seafood;
  • fermented milk products;
  • cereals;
  • light soups;
  • whole wheat bread;
  • honey, jam, marmalade, pastille, nuts, dried fruits, oatmeal cookies;
  • fresh and baked vegetables and fruits;
  • eggs;
  • vegetable oils;
  • natural juices, green tea, fruit drinks.

Important! To avoid dehydration of intervertebral disc tissue, you need to drink at least 2. 5 liters of pure still water per day.

Possible consequences and complications

In the cervical region, the vertebrae are located close to each other, the height of the intervertebral discs is small, so various complications of osteochondrosis occur even with minor degenerative changes in bone tissue.

Why is osteochondrosis of the cervical spine dangerous?

  • frequent migraine attacks;
  • heart rhythm disturbances, atherosclerosis;
  • protrusion, intervertebral hernia, bone growths of the vertebrae;
  • serious brain pathologies;
  • narrowing of the lumen of the vertebral artery, which leads to the development of VSD, cerebral hypertension, and disability;
  • spinal stroke.
complications with cervical osteochondrosis

Important! With advanced osteochondrosis, compression of the spinal cord occurs, which can be fatal.

Contraindications for cervical osteochondrosis

To lead a full life with osteochondrosis, it is necessary to avoid actions that can provoke pain and exacerbation of the disease.

What not to do with cervical osteochondrosis:

  • sleep on a very hard or soft mattress, on a high pillow;
  • lift weights; if you need to lift something heavy, you need to do this with a straight back and bent knees;
  • carry a bag on one shoulder;
  • when the pathology worsens, make active movements of the head and neck;
  • smoke, drink alcohol;
  • walk without a scarf in cold weather, sit in a draft, near an air conditioner;
  • stay in an uncomfortable position for a long time, sitting;
  • wear high heels;
  • crack your neck.
ban on alcohol and cigarettes for cervical osteochondrosis

Thermal procedures - warming compresses, visiting a bathhouse, warming up with a blue lamp - can only be done in the stage of remission of the disease. During an exacerbation, heat will relieve pain only for a short time, but soon the unpleasant sensations will return and the degree of their manifestation will increase.

Disease prevention

To maintain the health of the spine, it is enough to follow simple rules of prevention.

How to avoid cervical osteochondrosis:

  • get rid of excess weight;
  • do gymnastics every morning, go swimming, yoga, dancing;
  • spend more time outdoors, morning walks are especially useful;
  • eat right, control salt intake, follow a drinking regime;
  • when working sedentarily, do a neck warm-up every hour and watch your posture;
  • keep your neck warm;
  • get enough sleep, avoid physical, mental and emotional fatigue.

Sleep correctly. Only your head, neck and shoulders should rest on the pillow on the mattress, and a small cushion should be placed under your feet. It is better to sleep on your back or in the fetal position; in case of exacerbation of the disease, only on your side. The mattress is orthopedic, medium hard, the pillow is rectangular, orthopedic, 15–20 cm high. With the correct body position in sleep, the spine is straight, there are no deflections in different parts, the muscles are relaxed.

Cervical osteochondrosis is a chronic, slowly progressive disease; signs of the disease do not appear immediately. A competent combination of traditional and folk treatment methods, gymnastics and diet will help cope with unpleasant symptoms, and simple preventive measures will help avoid relapses of the pathology.