Treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

Osteochondrosis is a dangerous and painful disease of the spine associated with degenerative-dystrophic changes in the structure of the intervertebral discs and adjacent joints and bone tissue. Often, the pathology develops precisely in the cervical spine. The disease is associated with discomfort and significantly reduces the quality of life. In this case, cervical osteochondrosis can occur at any age. Today, this disease is diagnosed even in school age and young people, which is associated with the spread of a sedentary lifestyle.

Causes of cervical osteochondrosis

Several factors lead to pathological changes in the spine. Often, the occurrence of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is preceded by a combination of several causes that contribute to the displacement and pathological destruction of the plates. These include:

  • various neck injuries, including birth;
  • long stay in one position (driving, computer);
  • hereditary predisposition;
  • metabolic disorders, vitamin deficiency and hypovitaminosis;
  • excessive and improper loads that lead to rapid erasure of disks;
  • hormonal and autoimmune disorders;
  • natural aging;
  • less frequently - infectious diseases, hypothermia, stress, etc.

Characteristics and stages of development of the disease

The cervical region is the most mobile part of the spine. It consists of seven vertebrae (C1 to C7) connected by elastic and flexible intervertebral plates. The latter consists of the nucleus pulposus and the annulus fibrosus. Due to various factors, the position of the discs and the structure of their tissues changes, leading to the appearance of osteochondrosis.

The disease develops in several stages:

  1. Damage or improper loading will interrupt the normal position of the intervertebral disc.
  2. Deterioration of metabolism reduces the strength and elasticity of the annulus fibrosus, resulting in a reduction in the distance between the vertebrae.
  3. Decreased disc elasticity leads to improper load distribution, leading to core protrusion, hernia formation, and spinal curvature.
  4. As the intervertebral distance decreases, nearby nerves and blood vessels become constricted, pain occurs, and the work of other organs is interrupted.
  5. As a result of the friction of the vertebrae, bone growths (osteophytes) are formed. The ligaments of the cervical spine become virtually immobile and the symptoms of the disease become pronounced.

Treatment initiated at any stage makes it possible to prevent irreversible changes in the structure of the spine and to avoid dangerous disturbances in the work of other body systems.

Symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

There are very specific manifestations of pathological changes in this part of the spine. Typical symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis include:

  • pain in the back of the head, neck, shoulders or arms, aggravated by physical exertion, sneezing or coughing;
  • crackling in the cervical spine when the head is turned or tilted;
  • numbness and tingling in the hands and feet;
  • regular dizziness and fainting;
  • persistent tinnitus and hearing loss;
  • dull pain between the shoulder blades and in the heart region;
  • feeling of general weakness and increased tiredness.


If cervical osteochondrosis is suspected, it is important to undergo a comprehensive examination to help determine the condition of the spine and the extent of the disease’s progression. For accurate diagnosis, physiological examination with palpation and neck stroke and instrumental examination are traditionally used:

  • radiography (lateral, direct);
  • CT scan;
  • Magnetic resonance imaging.

Ultrasound of nearby organs, electrocardiogram of the heart, duplex examination of blood vessels, and blood and urine tests may also be prescribed to determine the cause of the disease.

Methods for treating cervical osteochondrosis

Stopping the pathological changes and eliminating the existing manifestations of the disease is only possible with the help of complex therapy. In the early stages, you can get rid of cervical osteochondrosis without surgery - with the help of conservative treatment.

Experts choose individual therapy for each patient, taking into account individual characteristics of the body, age and lifestyle. Usually, the complex involves several treatments at the same time, the main purpose of which is to get rid of the symptoms, prevent the disease from progressing, and restore the normal functioning of the spine.

  • Drug therapy.During the period of exacerbation, various tools are used to help reduce pain and other manifestations of the disease. The patient may be prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, B vitamins, chondroprotectors, warming ointments, drugs to repair cartilage tissue, and others.
  • Physiotherapy.It allows you to reduce pain and neutralize inflammation using ultrasound, laser or magnetic vibrations. In the treatment of osteochondrosis of the neck, manual therapy, acupuncture, electrophoresis, and other procedures aimed at normalizing metabolic processes and relieving unpleasant symptoms may also be used.
  • Massage.It has a firming and relaxing effect on the cervical spine. Eliminates excessive muscle tension, increases the intensity of metabolic processes. Therapeutic massages are performed using a variety of techniques: classical, acupressure, segmental reflex, or vacuum. Hardware methods for influencing the cervical spine, such as hydro or vibration massage, give good results.
  • Traction.Clamped blood vessels and nerve endings should be released once before starting treatment. During towing, the spine is provided using special equipment and simulators. It provides correction of the position of the intervertebral discs and an even distribution of the vertebrae along the entire length to normalize blood flow and correct the distribution of load.
  • Exercise therapy.The basis for the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis is therapeutic gymnastics. Regular implementation of a special series of exercises allows the natural mobility of the vertebrae to be restored and provides normal nutrition to the intervertebral discs with useful substances. Therapeutic exercises usually involve bending, twisting, and other neck movements that the patient performs at the clinic or at home.

The process of treating cervical osteochondrosis takes a month and a half. Other acute manifestations of pain and disease usually disappear by the end of the first week of complex therapy. In severe cases, when intervertebral hernia or osteophytes (spinal bone growths) are detected at the time of diagnosis, the patient is given surgery.

Why are destructive changes in the neck dangerous?

Due to its structural features (tight fit of the vertebrae) and the tight location of the nerve and blood channels that feed the brain, osteochondrosis of the neck is a rather dangerous disease. Abnormal changes in this part of the spine without timely treatment can lead to serious consequences, such as:

  • violation of cerebral circulation;
  • vegetative-vascular dystonia;
  • hypertensive disease;
  • ischemia of the spinal cord and brain;
  • spinal stroke;
  • respiratory problems;
  • loss of spinal mobility due to growths;
  • radiculopathy (pinched nerve roots);
  • impaired hearing, vision and coordination;
  • spinal cord compression;
  • intervertebral hernias and so on.

Prevention of cervical osteochondrosis

In order for the spine to stay healthy and prevent recurrence of the disease after a cure, it is important to change your lifestyle. The following methods of preventing cervical osteochondrosis have been shown to be effective:

  • use of orthopedic mattress and low pillow for sleep;
  • maintaining proper posture while sitting at the table and walking;
  • regular warming of the neck during prolonged work on the computer;
  • a diet rich in vitamins and a lot of fluids;
  • general physical activity throughout the day.

Talk to your doctor to learn more about cervical osteochondrosis, how to treat the disease, and how to prevent it.