Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine:symptoms, treatment, exercises, drugs

Update: October 2018

In the modern world, almost all people have this disease,
over 25 years. Cervical osteochondrosis is much more common than
in other parts of the spine. The relevance of this topic is difficult

In this article, we will look at why this disease occurs,
what is manifested, how to treat cervical osteochondrosis, what medicines
effective in his treatment, what non-drug methods
exist and find out the answers to the most frequent questions of patients
with a similar diagnosis.

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is
degenerative-dystrophic lesion (progressive)
intervertebral discs in the cervical spine. For this reason
there are changes both in the intervertebral discs themselves and in
vertebrae and joints of the cervical spine.

Causes of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

As a result of the action of the factors listed below,
increasing the load on the cervical spine, neck muscles are trying
compensate for excess load, their spasm arises, is disturbed
blood circulation in this area, which causes degenerative
changes. Due to a number of factors changes occur in the intervertebral
discs of the cervical spine, their structure changes, their
nutrition, changes occur in the small joints between the vertebrae,
there are bone growths of the vertebral bodies, due to increased
loads on modified intervertebral discs.

Остеохондроз шейного отдела симптомы

Click to enlarge – exercise therapy for osteochondrosis of any department

Factors contributing to the development of cervical osteochondrosis

  • Poor posture and scoliosis
  • Overweight
  • Hypodynamia, sedentary work
  • Ранее перенесенные травмы spine
  • Metabolic disease
  • Great physical exertion
  • Stress and constant tension
  • Low level of fitness
  • Hereditary predisposition
  • Habitual abnormal body postures, such as holding
    handset shoulder
  • Constant tension of the back, neck due to the nature of work
    (tense in a sitting position) at drivers, office
  • Аномалии развития в шейном отделе spine

The degree of development of cervical osteochondrosis

The degree of osteochondrosis is determined by the clinical picture and
patient complaints. The concept of degree should not be confused with stages.
osteochondrosis. Stages will be discussed below.

First degree

clinical manifestations are minimal, the patient may complain of
боль в шейном отделе spine низкой интенсивности, она может
intensify when turning the head. Physical examination may
detect a slight strain of the muscles of the neck.

Second degree

пациента беспокоит боль в шейном отделе spine,
its intensity is much greater, the pain may be radiating to
shoulder in hand. This occurs due to a decrease in height.
intervertebral disc and infringement of the nerve roots. Pain sensations
amplified by bending and turning the head. The patient may celebrate
decreased performance, weakness, headache.

Third degree

symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis are aggravated, pain becomes
constant irradiation in the arm or shoulder. Numbness or
weakness in the muscles of the arm, as a herniation of intervertebral
discs (see symptoms of vertebral hernia lumbar).
Disturbed by weakness, dizziness. When viewed revealed
ограничение подвижности в шейном отделе spine, боль при
palpation of the cervical spine.

Fourth degree

the intervertebral disc is completely destroyed and replaced
its connective tissue. Dizziness increases, appears
tinnitus, impaired coordination, as the process involves
vertebral artery feeding the cerebellum and occipital lobe of the brain
the brain.

Клиническая картина остеохондроза шейного отдела spine —
symptoms, signs

Симптомы остеохондроза шейного отдела spine отличаются от
manifestations of this disease in other parts of the vertebral
pillar. This is due to the fact that in the cervical vertebrae are located
closer to each other, intervertebral discs have a relatively small
height, which leads to the appearance of the clinic even at the
minor pathological processes. Also in the cervical region more often
происходит сдавление нервных корешков и спинного the brain.

The most common signs of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine
– symptoms:

  • Pain syndrome

pains may have different localization, they may be in the neck, in
затылочной области, в плече или верхней limbs. Shoulder pain
or appear when the spine is involved in the process
nerve innervating upper limb. Pain in the back of the head
heads are caused by spasms of the neck muscles that attach to
occipital bone and impaired blood circulation in this zone.

  • Weakness in the hands

occurs when the root is damaged, which includes
there are motor nerves innervating the muscles of the arm.

  • Desensitization in hand

occurs when the root is damaged, which includes
there are sensory nerves innervating skin upper

  • Restriction of movements in the cervical spine and crunch at

occurs due to a decrease in the height of the intervertebral disc,
the appearance of bone growths on the vertebral bodies and the defeat of small
joints between the cervical vertebrae.

  • Dizziness, incoordination, weakness

all these symptoms are due to the involvement of the vertebral
artery which runs in its own channel located in
transverse processes of the cervical vertebrae. As a result of the development
cervical osteochondrosis, the formation of fibrous tissue, displacement
vertebrae, the blood flow in these arteries is deteriorating, which leads to
deterioration of the blood supply to the occipital lobe of the brain and

  • Numbness of the tongue, loss of hearing and vision

arise in severe cases with a strong deterioration of the blood supply
occipital lobe of the brain, cerebellum and trunk.

Symptoms depending on the damaged vertebra

Separately, you can select radicular syndromes, leading to
or other sensory and motor disorders. They differ in
whichever vertebra squeezes
spinal root: 

  • C1: leads to numbness and impaired sensitivity in
    the back of the head;
  • С2: болевые ощущения в теменной области и the back of the head;
  • C3: impaired speech, tongue sensitivity, pain, and reduction
    sensitivity in the side where the spinal cord is injured
  • С4: pain in the heart, left hypochondrium, shoulder, scapula,
    respiratory disorders, decreased neck muscle tone;
  • C5: shoulder pain in the outer area;
  • C6: pain extending from the forearm to the thumb, and
    also from the neck to the scapula;
  • C7: pain in the back of the shoulder, from the neck to the scapula, gives in
    forearm up to 2-4 fingers;
  • C8: pain from neck to shoulder, from forearm to little finger.

Diagnosis of cervical osteochondrosis

Basic diagnostic methods:

  • Radiography of the cervical spine. Is an
    uninformative method, especially in the later stages
  • CT scan. Better shows changes in
    vertebrae, but it is difficult to determine the size and presence of intervertebral
    hernias, as well as the presence of disco-medullary conflict (compression
    spinal cord hernia).
  • Magnetic resonance imaging. The most informative method.
    Not only bone structures are visible, but also intervertebral
    discs, hernias, their size, the direction of their growth.
  • If you suspect a violation of blood flow in the vertebral arteries
    apply ultrasonic duplex scanning. This method
    allows you to accurately determine whether there is a decrease in blood flow velocity,
    Are there any obstructions to normal blood flow?

Radiological stages of cervical osteochondrosis.

  • Stage 1 – minimal changes in the configuration of the vertebrae,
    smoothness of the cervical lordosis (bend).
  • Stage 2 – instability between the vertebrae, possibly a shift
    one vertebra relative to another, torsion (rotation around the axis
    spine), a slight decrease in height
    intervertebral disc.
  • Stage 3 – reducing the height of the intervertebral disc by ¼
    relatively higher than the disc, changes in the intervertebral
    joints, posterior osteophytes (bony outgrowths), constriction
    intervertebral foramen and narrowing of the spinal canal, in which
    the spinal cord is located with its shells.
  • Stage 4 – a significant reduction in the height of the intervertebral disc,
    significant changes in the intervertebral joints, huge posterior
    osteophytes, significant narrowing of the intervertebral foramen and significant
    narrowing of the spinal canal with the formation of myelopathy.

Principles of treatment of cervical osteochondrosis

The main methods of treatment of cervical osteochondrosis
spine – this is medication, physiotherapy, massage
neck and collar zone, therapeutic gymnastics are especially effective
with cervical osteochondrosis. To the main groups of drugs
used in this disease include:

Group name Act Dosage Forms
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce pain, contribute to the removal of aseptic
inflammation and swelling of the damaged nerve root.
voltaren, nise, movalis, ketonal, ketanov, diclofenac,
nimesulide and others (see the full list in the article pain shots in
Vitamins of group B improve metabolic processes in the nervous tissue. combilipene, unigamma, milgamma, neurobion (see B vitamins in
Drugs that improve the rheological properties of blood and
blood flow
improve the nutrition of damaged nerve roots and improve
blood flow к головному мозгу.
aminophylline, trental.
Chondroprotectors preparations that restore cartilage tissue, including in
damaged intervertebral disk.
(glucosamine and chondroitin) arthra, teraflex, doppelgerts, toad
stone, kondronova, struktuvit, alflutop.
Muscle relaxants drugs that relieve muscle spasm. Mydocalm, Sirdalud, Tizalud, Tizanidine, etc.

 Attention! These drugs are not intended as a prescription.
are for reference only.

Physiotherapy in the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis

Electrophoresis with drugs. Under the action of an electric current, the ions of the preparations fall into
necessary place. Is done with novocaine for pain relief or
euphylline to improve blood flowа.
Ultrasound It has an anti-inflammatory, analgesic effect, and
improves metabolic processes in the impact zone.
Magnetic therapy possesses anesthetic effect due to removal of edema
Laser therapy due to the light effect is achieved anti-inflammatory
effect and improves blood circulation.


Exercise therapy for cervical osteochondrosis should be carried out without acute
aggravations. The greatest effectiveness of this technique in the period
recovery. During the execution of the complex should not be
discomfort and pain!

Exercise number 1 Lying on your stomach, put your hands on the floor, lift your head and torso,
back should be straight. Stay in this position for 1-2 minutes.
Slowly sink to the floor. Repeat 2-3 times.
Exercise number 2 Lying on your stomach, stretch your arms along your body, turn your head
to the left, try to touch the floor with your ear, then turn your head
to the right. Repeat 6-7 times in each direction.
Exercise number 3 In a sitting position, lean forward while inhaling and head
try to touch your chest, then exhaling, lean back and
throw back your head. Repeat 10-15 times.
Exercise number 4 While sitting, place your palms on your forehead, apply pressure with your palms on
forehead, and forehead on the palm. Continue this exercise for 30
seconds Repeat 2-3 times.
Exercise number 5 Slowly rotate the head first in one direction, then in
the other side. 10 rotations in each direction. Make sure not to
dizziness appeared. With his appearance exercise
is terminated.

Certain questions from patients with cervical osteochondrosis and answers
on them

Can surgery for cervical osteochondrosis be required?

Indications for surgery is the absence
the effectiveness of conservative treatment for 6 months,
accompanied by persistent pain and signs
damage to the nerve roots, as well as myelopathy. In all other
cases, the operation is not carried out.

How long can you use NSAIDs?

Since most NSAIDs have a side effect on the mucous
the stomach lining, the long and frequent use of these drugs is not
recommended. When taking this group of drugs you need to strictly
follow the recommendations of the attending physician, the duration of admission may
to be individual, it depends on the stage of osteochondrosis, complaints
the patient and its associated diseases.

How effective is chondroprotectors?

There is currently no evidence of efficacy and
the ineffectiveness of these drugs. In such cases, doctors
are of the opinion that the drug is impractical to use.

How best to get vitamins – in the form of tablets or

There is no difference in the level of absorption of drugs in these two ways.
there is no introduction. Given the pain of injecting and
the frequency of complications, it is recommended to take the B vitamins in
preformed tablets.

What measures should be taken without aggravation?

It is best to do physical therapy at home.
conditions, 2 times a year to attend a massage of the neck and collar zone and
limit excessive loads on the cervical spine.

Автор: Ревус Олеся Григорьевна врач-невролог

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