Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

The organs and tissues of the body wear out and age over time, therefore, at the age of 50-60, a person begins to feel periodic pain throughout the body. However, there are diseases in which the aging of individual parts occurs much faster. The first symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis appear before the age of 40, and the disease itself brings a lot of inconvenience.

What is cervical osteochondrosis?

Cervical osteochondrosis is a disease associated with deterioration of the cervical vertebrae. The cervical spine itself consists of 7 movable vertebrae and connective tissue in the form of intervertebral discs. Since the upper spine is not reinforced with a muscular corset, the neck is the most mobile segment. It is also facilitated by elastic connective tissue. All this contributes to turning and tilting the head. Inside the vertebrae and discs is a complex circulatory system and nerve endings.

osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

With excessive stress on the neck, the intervertebral discs wear out and become less elastic. As a result, the vertebrae themselves begin to "move out". Incorrectly positioned vertebrae lead to pinched nerves, poor circulation and metabolism in the spine.


Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis are very diverse, as they are associated with pinched nerves and impaired blood flow. There are cases when, instead of the cause, the effect is treated, but the results are not achieved, therefore it is extremely important to correctly diagnose the disease.

There are a number of common symptoms that most people with this condition have:

  • Burning pain in the neck, which worsens when changing posture, sneezing, taking a deep breath, turning the head. With a sharp turn of the neck, pain can cause fainting;
  • Minor coordination problems that most often lead to unsteady gait;
  • Deterioration of vision, which is not always accompanied by myopia or excessive fatigue of the eyeballs. Ripples and flickering of black dots are also characteristic.
  • Hearing impairment accompanied by constant noise and ringing in the ears;
  • Headaches of a different nature, as a burning sensation in the occiput, which extends to the temporal part, and a dull pain in the superciliary arches and parietal zone, periodic dizziness;
  • Constant fatigue;
  • Problems with concentration and memory, as well as a significant deterioration in mental abilities, are typical mainly for elderly people.
neck and back pain

Also, depending on how the nerve is pinched, additional symptoms arise that are no longer reflected on the head, but below:

  • Tingling and numbness in shoulder, arm, and fingers. The side becomes numb depending on where the neck is turned, and the fingers do not tingle not all, but 1-2, according to which fingers they are, you can determine which vertebra is the problem. Less often, the pain radiates to the legs;
  • Pain radiates to the shoulder and left side of the chest, including recurrent spasms in the region of the heart;
  • Burning from the neck down to the area between the shoulder blades;

Sometimes osteochondrosis manifests itself on the appearance of a person: pain in the teeth, loose and dry skin of the face, snoring at night, hoarse or weak voice

Causes of cervical osteochondrosis

The most common cause of osteochondrosis is a sedentary lifestyle, so white collars are prone to this disease. Office workers have been in one uncomfortable position for a long time, which is forced to support the spine, including the cervical spine. The inability to periodically do gymnastics, working out the neck, leads to degradation of the intervertebral discs. However, overly active sports can also lead to osteochondrosis, especially exercises associated with lifting weights, because the main load falls on the spine. With constant heavy loads, connective tissue begins to wear off, this leads to osteochondrosis of different segments of the spine.

In addition to an active lifestyle or lack of it, the cause of osteochondrosis can be:

  • poor nutrition, lack of vitamins and minerals, in particular calcium and phosphorus;
  • genetic predisposition. Osteochondrosis is not a hereditary disease, however, with the development of the fetus in the womb, it may lack substances for the formation of the skeletal system, which in adulthood will affect the elasticity of the discs. Or hereditary diseases of bone tissue may become a factor;
  • back or neck injury;
  • hypothermia;
  • problem with metabolism or hormones.

Degrees of osteochondrosis. Why is this disease dangerous?

There are 3 degrees of development of osteochondrosis of the neck, although some sources mention 4, restorative, after removal of the hernia. However, this development of the disease is considered quite positive, since there are no persistent disorders in the vital system.

The first degree of the disease delivers the least inconvenience, but precisely because of this, it is difficult to diagnose it in the early stages. This degree is characterized by a slight loss of elasticity and cracks in the intervertebral discs. This is expressed in the form of pain in the neck when bending, the nature of the pain can be described as an electrical discharge that passes along the cervical segment. Also at this moment the pupils dilate, which makes it possible to determine the disease at the first stage.

The second degree of osteochondrosis is characterized by constant pain in the neck, which increases with a change in the position of the head, but does not completely disappear. At this stage, swelling of the neck is possible, since the intervertebral disc narrows under the pressure of the vertebrae. Places of already existing tears expand, and excess moisture begins to flow from the disc itself, which leads to edema. Since the distance between the vertebrae decreases at this degree, the first signs of nerve involvement appear. People who often suffer from osteochondrosis of the neck try to relieve pain by supporting their head with their hands. However, the pain spreads to the head.

osteochondrosis of the neck

Stage III disease begins with a herniated disc. This condition is also called acute osteochondrosis, when a person often loses consciousness due to pain in the neck. The pain is given to the limbs and thoracic region, the gait becomes uncertain. In particularly difficult cases, there may be a partial loss of control of limb control. Also, advanced osteochondrosis can lead to damage to the nerves and spinal cord, which causes complete or partial paralysis.

Diagnostic Methods

It is possible to diagnose osteochondrosis of the neck only in a clinical setting. The diagnosis itself is carried out in several stages:

  1. analysis of patient complaints. At this stage, we are mainly talking about the nature of the pain and where it manifests itself most often;
  2. visual inspection. During an external examination, the doctor cannot determine the disease with certainty, but palpation of the neck helps to understand the condition of the neck muscles, as well as detect pain points;
  3. hardware research. Only with the help of hardware research can the cause of neck pain be determined. Usually, x-rays are used for this. Several pictures are taken to have a complete picture, since the bones of the skull can cover part of the cervical vertebrae. Also, be sure to take a picture with your mouth open to see the compression ratio of the discs. In addition to X-rays, more modern equipment is also used - computed tomography and an MRI machine. The latter gives the most complete picture, since you can immediately see the hernia.

Self-diagnosis based on pain and palpation of the neck is impossible. An inside picture is needed to understand the condition of the cervical segment.

Treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

Complete cure of osteochondrosis is possible only in the initial stages of the disease. In other cases, treatment only relieves symptoms so that the patient does not feel discomfort to the maximum in everyday life. Basically, the treatment does not require surgical intervention, it is used only to remove a hernia with degenerative disc disease of the 3rd degree. Treatment of the disease itself is carried out in different ways, which may depend on the policy of the clinic and the availability of special equipment. The most effective treatment is:

  • deep oscillation with a special apparatus;
  • mountain wax applications;
  • electrophoresis;
  • laser therapy.

These techniques can relieve pain in just a few sessions, but it is not always possible to apply them in practice, so massage is most often prescribed as an affordable and effective method of treatment.

Medication is also used with injections, ointments, painkillers. Some clinics offer alternative medicine as a way to cure an illness. In such cases, acupuncture, moxibustion is used (warming up the necessary points on the body), leeches are implanted.

Only a specialist can recommend a specific method of treatment after making a diagnosis and determining the degree of the disease.

Frequently Asked Questions

People who are faced with osteochondrosis of the cervical spine have approximately the same questions, which are given below.

Is it possible to cure him at all?

This disease can be completely cured, but only at the initial stage. With advanced 2 degrees of osteochondrosis, treatment will be mainly aimed at relieving pain. Remission is possible.

pain in the shoulder blades

Is it possible to warm the neck?

It is impossible to warm your neck with compresses, special lamps and other means. Although in the first minutes a person feels relief and the pain recedes, in an hour it will return with a vengeance, accelerating the development of the disease. There is also the possibility of severe swelling.

At the same time, it is necessary to prevent hypothermia of the neck, therefore it is recommended to wear warm scarves and clothes with high collars.

Can you feel dizzy from osteochondrosis?

Yes, because during the disease, blood flow to the brain decreases, which causes dizziness, as well as some other symptoms. Dizziness can manifest itself in different ways, depending on which area is affected by oxygen deprivation. A person can either observe how the walls and floor move, or hear the sound of blood in the ears and feel pressure on the temporal lobe.

Could this give a headache?

Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of osteochondrosis of the neck. There are several types of pain: migraine, burning in the parietal zone, which spreads to the brow ridges, acute pain that rises from the spine to the crown and temporal pain. They can occur for various reasons, but they are all characteristic of osteochondrosis.

self-massage of the neck and back


Any disease is easier to prevent than to cure. The same rule applies to osteochondrosis of the neck. To prevent the disease, you must adhere to several rules:

  • Physical activity. Yoga and physical therapy are the most effective ways to avoid neck pain, but weightlifting or two-hour workouts in the gym are best avoided. With a sedentary lifestyle, it is necessary periodically during the working day to arrange for yourself a short break, during which you should get up from a chair and walk, stretch your shoulders and neck. It is advisable to avoid sharp head turns.
  • Workplace organization. A well-chosen work chair and table can help prevent neck pain. Chairs should be chosen with a high back so that it supports the spine, the table should be proportionate to your height. Proper lighting and distance from your computer will also help reduce your risk of illness.
  • Organization of a sleeping place. Healthy sleep takes as much time as a normalized working day, which means that you need to attend to its convenience. An orthopedic not too hard mattress and a low pillow will be an excellent solution.
  • Massage. It is not necessary to visit a massage therapist 3 times a week to keep your neck and back normal, you can learn how to do self-massage. Thus, you will avoid the accumulation of salts in the cervical spine and will keep the muscles in good shape.
  • Bath and sauna visits. Although it is not allowed to warm up the neck with osteochondrosis, baths are shown as a prophylaxis, since this is a way to relieve muscle spasm, as well as remove harmful toxins from the body that come out with sweat.
  • Proper nutrition. Very often, a lack of nutrients becomes a problem for the whole body. Beans, spinach, fish, dairy products will help to avoid pain in the cervical spine. Anything rich in calcium and phosphorus to strengthen bones.
  • Try not to strain your neck. Make it a rule not to carry heavy bags over your shoulder.
  • Wear clothes for the season, hypothermia or draft can trigger osteochondrosis. Do not forget about scarves and vests with a collar, do not stand for a long time in the cold wind, with your back turned to it, find shelter.

All these tips will not only help to avoid osteochondrosis, but also have a beneficial effect on the general condition of the body.