How to treat cervical osteochondrosis?

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

Osteochondrosis is now considered a "disease of the century", because most of the time it affects people whose work does not require increased physical activity.

In most cases, changes in cartilage and bone tissue are seen in people of working age - up to 40 years.

The disease can affect different parts of the spine, and the second most common is osteochondrosis of the cervical spine.

What is it?

Osteochondrosis is a degenerative disease of the articular cartilage and adjacent bone tissue.

Previously, the term was applied to a large group of osteoarticular diseases, but now it is used only for degenerative diseases of the spine.

Compared to other parts of the spine, the cervical region is the most mobile and has many nerve and vascular formations. The structure of the vertebrae is small, as well as the fact that they are surrounded by a very weak muscular corset.

This anatomical structure predisposes to the development of osteochondrosis, whose severity of clinical manifestations depends on the nature of the changes in the intervertebral discs and the degree of their destruction.

The reasons for the development of the disease

The main and most common cause of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is sedentary lifestyle.

Due to the lack of physical activity with a sedentary and sedentary lifestyle:

  • metabolic processes are disrupted;
  • the level of salts in the bloodstream and lymphatic fluid increases;
  • The
  • salts are deposited in the cervical spine, kidneys and liver.

Damage to the cervical vertebrae is mainly caused by the lack of nutrients in the intervertebral discs. Therefore, the main reasons for the occurrence of cervical osteochondrosis also include inadequate and unbalanced diet.

Cervical osteochondrosis in a woman sitting at a computer

Risk factors

There are many risk factors for cervical osteochondrosis.

The most common factors are:

  • heredity;
  • age-related changes;
  • cervical spine injuries;
  • hypothermia;
  • hormonal disorders that lead to metabolic disorders;
  • some autoimmune diseases that damage cartilage tissue (systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatism).

Why is it dangerous?

Not only the spinal cord and nerve roots pass through the cervical spine, but also the vertebral artery, which is responsible for supplying blood to the back of the brain, oblong cord and cerebellum.

Therefore, with cervical osteochondrosis, this artery is compressed and, as a result, cerebral circulation is impaired.

In extremely advanced cases, compression of an artery and adjacent blood vessels and nerve plexuses can lead to consequences such as:

  • lack of coordination;
  • loss of hearing and vision;
  • course.

If the disease is not cured in the early stage, it can lead to complications such as protrusion of the intervertebral disc or intervertebral disc herniation.

Progress of the disease

Cervical osteochondrosis, like osteochondrosis of other parts of the spine, develops in stages. There are 3 stages of disease development.

1 degree

Characterized by the beginning of the destruction of the intervertebral discs.

Cracks are formed in the fibrous ring, the disk's strength and elasticity are disturbed, its height decreases, due to which the nerve roots are compressed.

A characteristic painful pain appears. Sometimes, in stage 1 (preclinical), this pain may be absent and osteochondrosis continues with moderate neck discomfort.

2nd degree

If 1st degree osteochondrosis has not been treated or the treatment has not been effective, a chronic condition, which is the 2nd degree of osteochondrosis, appears.

The pain becomes constant, the destruction and compacting of the intervertebral disc continues and leads to small displacements of the cervical vertebrae.

With cervical osteochondrosis at this stage, head fall syndrome can develop. This syndrome is characterized by severe pain, and the person must keep his head fixed to reduce the pain.

3rd degree

Grade 3 cervical osteochondrosis is accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • headaches;
  • nausea;
  • dizziness;
  • "lumbago" neck;
  • impaired sensitivity of the upper limbs.

The fibrous ring is almost destroyed, which leads to complications of osteochondrosis - protrusion of the intervertebral disc or intervertebral hernia.

In stage 3 osteochondrosis, the intensity of pain may decrease, since the affected cartilaginous tissue in the intervertebral disc simply does not exist, which means that there is no source of pain, but the pinching of the nerve roots remains, then the pain does not disappear completely.

Signs and symptoms

There are many signs of this disease. And they depend on which vertebrae are damaged by this disease.

The typical syndromes of cervical osteochondrosis are:

    root syndrome
  • ;
  • vertebral artery syndrome
  • ;
  • cervical migraine syndrome;
  • hypertensive syndrome.

All of these syndromes are accompanied, in the first place, by different types of pain.

Dizziness with cervical osteochondrosis

If we consider the vertebral artery syndrome, then headache manifests here already at an early stage of the development of the disease.

In this case, pain attacks can be accompanied by:

  • dizziness;
  • unstable gait;
  • visual symptoms (appearance of fog before the eyes, decreased visual acuity, etc. ). fainting (with sudden head movements).

In hypertensive syndrome, an increase in intracranial pressure is determined.

Headache is another type of explosion, it can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. With an exacerbation of cervical osteochondrosis, an increase in temperature and an increase in ESR can be observed.

When the spinal roots are compressed ("root syndrome"), the following neurological symptoms may appear:

  • severe pain in the neck (neck pain);
  • pain in the neck that spreads to the forearm and humerus (cervicobraquialgia);
  • pain in the arm;
  • popping or popping sensation in the neck when turning the head;
  • pain "radiating" to the ear, which occurs most often after a long stay in an uncomfortable position or a sudden movement;
  • pain or feeling of a lump in the throat, breathing problems;
  • numbness of hands and tongue;
  • swelling of the tongue;
  • severe weakness;
  • hearing and visual impairment;
  • tinnitus;
  • general deterioration of health.

In "cervical migraine" syndrome, irritation of sympathetic nodules is observed, which leads to decreased reactivity of brain vessels and impaired blood circulation.

As a result, you can develop hypertension, usually accompanied by:

  • clogged ears;
  • tachycardia;
  • noise in the head;
  • ringing in the ears.

When the arteries that supply the spinal cord are compressed, a spinal effusion may occur.

Violation of blood circulation in the brain with osteochondrosis can lead to:

  • oxygen deficiency of brain cells;
  • mental disorders (depression, panic attacks);
  • Changes and disturbances in the heart rhythm are a sign of cervical osteochondrosis
  • signs of epilepsy, such as short-term loss of consciousness and tension throughout the body - are often mistaken for signs of epilepsy.

A very common sign of cervical osteochondrosis is changes and disturbances in the heart rhythm, for example, extrasystole or arrhythmia.

These symptoms are very common among drivers and office workers.

Due to a sedentary lifestyle, changes occur in the intervertebral discs of the cervical and thoracic spine, which lead to disturbances in the functioning of the heart.

In most cases, until osteochondrosis is cured, it is virtually impossible to get rid of heart rhythm disorders.

Swelling under the eyes can also indicate osteochondrosis of the cervical spine.

Most of the time, they depend on the position of the head during sleep, disappear during the day and are combined with headaches, dizziness, weight on the head, etc.

Vegeteto-vascular dystonia is another of the most common diseases resulting from this disease.

It is a consequence of compressed vascular arteries that run along the sides of the spine.

Diagnostic methods

The preliminary diagnosis is established by a neurologist during the initial examination of the patient. More recently, the doctor had to make a diagnosis by performing only an external examination of the patient and sending him for an X-ray.

But, unfortunately, it is impossible to see the full picture of the development of the disease on an X-ray.

Currently, tests such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging are available, with which you can fully assess the stage of development of the disease.

After diagnosis, the patient is referred to a doctor specialized in this area.

Which doctor treats you?

Treatment is carried out by a narrowly focused specialist - a vertebrologist or a vertebroneurologist.

Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis

The severity of the main clinical symptoms is considered the basis for the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis.

Compression of blood vessels in the cervical spine

In the cervical spine, symptoms are mainly associated with compression of blood vessels and nerve endings, so during treatment, first of all, remove edema and restore blood circulation.

There are many treatment methods used to treat cervical osteochondrosis.

The most effective treatment is complex, which is a combination of several conservative treatment methods.

The complex treatment of cervical osteochondrosis can include the following traditional and non-traditional methods: drug treatment, massage, acupressure, manual therapy, physiotherapy, acupuncture, homeopathy, folk remedies, etc.

The main stages of treatment for osteochondrosis are the same for all locations of this disease:

  1. First you need to relieve the pain.
  2. Then the edema will be removed.
  3. At this stage, it is necessary to normalize blood circulation.
  4. Strengthening of the muscular corset.
  5. Improving nutrition and tissue regeneration.

Only a team of good specialists can choose the most appropriate therapy, which includes a neurologist, physiotherapist, massage therapist, surgeon and vertebral neurologist.

Like any disease, cervical osteochondrosis must be treated in the early stages of its onset. If you don't start the process, at this stage you can get a complete cure for osteochondrosis.

Unfortunately, stages 2 and 3 of cervical osteochondrosis are accompanied by complete or partial destruction of the intervertebral discs, so these stages are characterized by a very long recovery process.

First aid

How to relieve pain during exacerbation?

In case of severe pain, you need to take a pain reliever from your home's medicine cabinet: they can be pain relievers. You can also apply pepper plaster for pain.

Diuretics can be taken if swelling occurs. Rubbing the neck with pain relieving ointments can help.

You can also use aneedle applicatorfor pain, which:

  • relieves back pain;
  • reduces muscle spasm;
  • stimulates the work of internal organs;
  • normalizes blood circulation.

Physiotherapy in exacerbations is contraindicated, as well as warming up, as these effects can cause serious complications.

After acute pain relief, it is necessary to consult your doctor urgently for advice.

Treatment with medication

Drug treatment usually starts with injections (in case of exacerbation) and then changes to tablets and suppositories in combination with topical application of ointments and gels.

Anesthesia during drug treatment is performed with steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

It is imperative to prescribe medications that restore cerebral circulation.

Muscle relaxants may be prescribed for abnormal muscle tension. For a more effective treatment, vitamins are ingested in a therapeutic dose and trace elements.

In cases of intervertebral hernia, surgical intervention is often recommended and the attending physician may suggest surgery.

Massage and self-massage

This method works well with physiotherapy and physiotherapy. You can take a massage course at any medical institution and by contacting private clinics.

Massage is necessary for cervical osteochondrosis to strengthen muscles and relieve tension in the neck.

The massage therapist's task is to remove harmful metabolic products, increasing blood flow and output in the diseased area, as well as relieving the spasm of the pathological area.

The main techniques used by cervical massage specialists are:

  • stroking;
  • squeeze;
  • rub
  • ;
  • vibration;
  • kneading.

The self-massage technique can be performed using the following techniques:

  • stroking (the movements should be smooth, without much effort, forming folds)
  • kneading (deep impact on the muscles, holding the fold, pressing and pushing);
  • vibration (vibrational impact when hitting, shaking, hitting).

Self-massage should always end with caresses. During the vibration, you can use a massager.


Acupressure massage

The acupressure massage relieves headache with exacerbation of cervical osteochondrosis, helps with pressure spikes, normalizing it.

Acupressure scheme:

  • Impact on the feng fu point, which is under the occipital protuberance, for 1 minute.
  • Impact on the feng chi point, which is two fingers away from the mastoid processes of the skull.
  • Impact of 1-1, 5 minutes at the ya-men point (located at a distance of three fingers from the feng fu point).
  • Sedation 1-1, 5 minutes at the da-chzhui point (7th cervical vertebra).

After acupressure, you need to lie down for a few minutes as you may experience a slight dizziness.

Manual therapy

Manual therapy helps to deal with acute and chronic pain, also increases range of motion and improves posture.

The main methods of manual therapy for osteochondrosis of the cervical spine:

  • Relaxing and segmental massage.Used to warm up muscles and relieve tension.
  • Mobilization.Influences designed to restore joint function by traction.
  • Manipulation.A strong impulse directed at the patient's pathological areas. The procedure is accompanied by a characteristic shredding (return of the joint to the normal position).

A specialist who practices manual therapy should be fluent in these techniques. Otherwise, any mistake can cause injury.



Acupuncture promotes the release of cortisol into the bloodstream. This hormone has a pronounced anti-inflammatory effect.

Acupuncture is performed by working at points close to the inner edge of the scapula. The needles are inserted to a depth of 1 to 2 cm and left to act for 10 to 30 minutes.


Drug treatment has many adverse side effects, so homeopathy can be a valid substitute for treatment, without undesirable consequences.

Nutritional characteristics

Foods should be rich in calcium and magnesium.

These minerals are found in fish and seafood, nuts, vegetables and dairy products.

Often, osteochondrosis of the neck can be accompanied by atherosclerosis. In that case, a strict diet is recommended.

The diet is prescribed for 3-4 months. It is necessary to limit the consumption of all foods that contain cholesterol. This includes animal fats, fatty meats, fatty dairy products, etc. You should also limit or exclude your consumption of salt, sugar and flour products.

It is recommended to give up bad habits (smoking, alcohol, etc. ).

Cervical osteochondrosis and alcohol are interconnected. The fact is that, when entering the blood, alcohol destroys the cells, aggravating the already impaired blood circulation in osteochondrosis.

Therefore, you should limit it to a minimum and, during an exacerbation, stop drinking alcohol completely.

Disease prevention

To prevent cervical osteochondrosis, it is recommended to observe the following rules:

  • sleep should be on a firm mattress and a low pillow: the neck flexion angle should not exceed 15 degrees;
  • take a hot shower every day for at least 10 minutes;
  • visit the sauna and the bathroom whenever possible: the heat helps to relieve neck spasms;
  • practice aerobic activities and regular walks at a slow pace;
  • go swimming;
  • after 25 years, avoid shock load on the spine (jumping, running);
  • when working sedentary, take five-minute breaks every hour;
  • regular yoga practice can prevent any manifestations of cervical osteochondrosis;
  • refuse to go to the gym, because weight training can cause the cervical disc to protrude;
  • physical exercise as a prophylaxis against osteochondrosis of the neck helps to strengthen the neck muscles, relieve tension.

Frequently asked questions

What to do during pregnancy and how to treat it?

It is often during pregnancy that the first symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis occur.

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine during pregnancy

This is due to a change in hormone levels and softening of the vertebrae, as well as a change in the center of gravity and excessive stress on the spine.

The treatment of osteochondrosis in pregnant women is quite complicated, as it is limited mainly by the drug method that aims to relieve pain.

You can apply natural ointments or use traditional medicine.

Any influence on the neck area (warm-up, exercise, etc. ) during pregnancy is strictly prohibited.

Does this happen in children and adolescents?

In children and adolescents, cervical osteochondrosis develops as a result of congenital or acquired functional impairment of cartilage tissue.

It is expressed by complaints of headache, fatigue, dizziness and fainting.

Is it possible to warm the neck area?

Warming the neck with cervical osteochondrosis is strictly prohibited, especially in the exacerbation phase of the disease, as warming can lead to increased edema and vasodilation of the brain.

Sleeping on an orthopedic pillow

How to sleep well?

Sleep on a flat, hard bed with an orthopedic mattress.

The recommended and most comfortable position is lying on your side, with your shoulder resting on the mattress and your head resting on a small pillow.

The use of orthopedic pillow helps to relax the muscles of the cervical spine, reduces irritation of nerve endings, which prevents headaches and insomnia.

Are physical activities and a sauna allowed?

In preventive measures and in the 1st stage of cervical osteochondrosis, physiotherapy and swimming exercises are recommended.

Lifting weights, working hard, training in gyms is strictly prohibited.

The visit to the spa and sauna is also recommended only for the prevention of cervical osteochondrosis and in the initial stage of the disease.


"I would like to share with my unhappy brothers how to deal with cervical osteochondrosis. A few years ago, I had back pain. On a visit to the doctor, the diagnosis was cervical osteochondrosis. Many things were tested with the treatment: physical therapy, manual therapy and massage. But there was always only temporary relief, in addition, all of these procedures are very expensive. I had to study the problem thoroughly. So I decided to try swimming. It turns out that swimming is widely used for prevention andtreatment of cervical osteochondrosis, as it remarkably relieves tension in the neck muscles. once a week in the pool and the pain I don't know. "

"Due to my overuse, I was unable to find time to visit a doctor. And my relatives advised me to treat my neck pain with warmth, herbal compresses, ointments in various ways and other home remedies. that the neck stoppedI was at home for more than two weeks and it still took me a long time to recover. So my advice to everyone is to see a doctor as soon as your neck hurts and hurts! This will save you time and not lose your health. "