Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine treatment, symptoms

cervical spine osteochondrosis

A therapist with 50 years of experience once commented, "When I first started working, there wasn't a single young patient with osteochondrosis on site. And today, almost every second of 30-year-olds has this problem. "

Osteochondrosis - a disease caused by the deposition of salts in the spine

Wrong. The intervertebral disc consists of the nucleus pulposus, the annulus fibrosus, and the hyaline cartilage that covers it from above and below.

With the destruction of these elements, the balance between the load on the spine and the ability to carry it is disturbed. As a result, the vertebrae begin to compress adjacent nerve and muscle tissues, grow along the edges, forming the so-called. osteophytes, which make a characteristic noise when moving (patients mistakenly explain this as "salt deposition").

If the back and neck hurt, this is exclusively osteochondrosis

Osteochondrosis is not the only cause of back pain. This diagnosis is often made by the patients themselves. However, in addition to this pathology, which is part of the group of degenerative-dystrophic changes of the spine, there is also osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and it is possible to differentiate only after a complete examination.

  • Degenerative-dystrophic changes occur in 30-50% of cases in people aged 30-40 years, in 75-100% of people over 40 years of age.
  • These pathological processes are responsible for 20. 4% of the total disability caused by diseases of the osteoarticular system.
  • Long walk is bad for the spine

Vice versa. Motor activity has a beneficial effect on the functioning of the spine: it maintains muscle tone, preserves intervertebral mobility, stimulates blood circulation and metabolism. In the progression of the disease, hypodynamia and a long stay in an especially uncomfortable position are "to blame".

Another thing is if an overweight person walks a lot, wears heavy things, then the spine experiences an increase in load.

Flat feet contribute to the development of osteochondrosis

Right. The arches of the foot, as well as the physiological curves of the spine, are designed to absorb shock loads when walking, running, jumping. If the foot does not provide adequate protection when interacting with the support, the spinal column receives an additional load, which significantly impairs the nutrition and functioning of its structures and accelerates the development of the disease.

Back pain is the only symptom of the disease.

Not certainly that way. As a rule, patients complain of constant back pain, often accompanied by numbness and pain in the limbs. Over time, if left untreated, the muscles of the limbs atrophy, the joints of the spine become less mobile, muscle spasms appear.

Such an acute condition occurs due to arterial spasm in response to the effects of bone growth, as well as due to herniated disc, arthrosis of the intervertebral joint, as a reflex reaction to irritation of spinal receptors.

  1. If a person suffers from coronary or cardiovascular pathology, then vertebral artery syndrome will worsen the course.
  2. With osteochondrosis of the thoracic region, pain in the chest is disturbing (feeling as if a stake is stuck there) - in the area of the heart and other internal organs; with lumbosacral injuries - in the lower back (irradiation to the sacrum, lower limbs, sometimes to the pelvic organs).
  3. If complications of osteochondrosis develop (herniated intervertebral discs, bone growths, spondylolisthesis, spondylarthrosis), then nerve root damage is observed - pain becomes acute, sensitivity worsens, weakness appears in the muscles innervated, and the severity of reflexes decrease.
  4. Osteochondrosis can cause dysfunction of various organs and tissues.

With osteochondrosis, the risk of circulatory disorders in the cerebellar, trunk, and occipital regions of the brain is increased.

A constant headache appears - first in the back of the head, then spreads to the crown and temples region, aggravated by neck movements (most often in the morning).

Elderly people with a sudden head turn may lose consciousness. This is preceded by dizziness, tinnitus, blurred vision and hearing, nausea, vomiting.

Sometimes there is pain in the heart region - long, pressing, boring. With osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, especially in the elderly and senile age, the soft tissues often change - they become denser.

Degenerative processes in the spine can cause congestion in the gastrointestinal tract, disruption of the bronchopulmonary system, which is fraught with inflammatory and other diseases.

Vegetovascular dystonia, intercostal neuralgia - consequences of osteochondrosis

Not certainly that way. Osteochondrosis may be one of the reasons (by far not the only one) for the development of these diseases.

When the intervertebral discs are "erased" and osteophytes grow, the intervertebral foramina, the vertebral artery channel narrow and deform, and this leads to the violation of various structures.

In particular, when the nerve roots are compressed, signs of intercostal neuralgia appear, and when the vertebral artery is compressed, the same symptoms of vegetative-vascular dystonia appear.

It is impossible to cure osteochondrosis

In fact, spinal structures that have undergone degenerative changes cannot be fully restored. However, proper complex treatment can eliminate the symptoms of the disease, stop the development of the pathology and prevent complications.

In case of problems with intervertebral discs, it is useful to warm sore spots

Wrong. Temperature fluctuations, especially extreme ones (eg a beginner's trip to the bath), can cause a severe exacerbation. Mild thermal procedures are used in complex treatments, but must be prescribed by a physician.

If you perform circular movements of the head with osteochondrosis of the cervical region, your health will deteriorate

Right. These exercises are best done for prevention - they help maintain range of motion in the intervertebral joints. With severe osteochondrosis, careless circular movements can aggravate vertebral artery syndrome, radiculopathy, etc.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are essential for the treatment

Not really. During the period of remission or when the pain is not severe, conservative therapy is performed (physio, reflex and manual); physiotherapy, traction techniques are used. Drug treatment is indicated during an exacerbation and is aimed at relieving pain, relieving the inflammatory process and accelerating metabolic processes (intramuscular or intravenous injections).

Among the most effective agents are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are prescribed to relieve inflammation and pain; with severe pain, novocaine blocks are used; steroid drugs (epidural, intramuscular injections); NSAIDs in the form of ointments, gels and creams with analgesic and irritating effects; muscle relaxants - to relieve muscle spasms; B vitamins - to improve metabolic processes in the spine (B1, B6, B12).

Osteochondrosis can lead to serious consequences

Yup. Due to compression of the spinal cord or nerve roots, osteochondrosis can cause paralysis, and if the vertebral artery is violated, it can cause loss of consciousness.

Exercises to "stretch" the spine help improve the condition

Traction, or traction, allows you to increase the intervertebral space, relieve pain and restore the anatomically correct shape of the spine. However, the individual load must be calculated correctly. "Busting" can lead to reflex contraction of the paraspinal muscles and worsen the condition.

Only a traumatologist-orthopedist has the right to treat osteochondrosis

Wrong. Most patients are seen by a neurologist, with a significant severity of pathology - by an orthopedic neurosurgeon or vertebrologist.

A local therapist may also prescribe drug therapy to alleviate an exacerbation.

Spinal osteochondrosis: causes and treatment

Up to 76% of people experience back pain every year. This statistic affects people of all ages and professions. The causes of pain can be different, one of which is osteochondrosis of the spine.

Due to a sedentary lifestyle, osteochondrosis of the spine is becoming more common and it is not always possible to beat it on your own. Let's talk about why this occurs and how to deal with it.

What is spinal osteochondrosis

There are several different views on the definition. Some experts believe that it is more correct to use the general name - dorsalgia, or non-specific back pain.

Definition difficulties are also associated with the fact that a variety of specialists work with this disease - neurologists, orthopedists, neurosurgeons and general practitioners.

Sometimes a person diagnosed with osteochondrosis of the spine sees a cardiologist, as the manifestations of the disease are very similar to heart pain.

The term "osteochondrosis of the spine" was proposed by Hildebrandt in 1933 as a multifactorial degenerative disease of the movement segment of the spine (as defined by Popelyansky). What is the spinal motion segment? They are two vertebrae located one above the other, and between them there is an intervertebral disc.

Thanks to this joint, the human spine can bend and unfold, bend and twist. But as a result of various reasons, intervertebral discs lose their properties, undergo degeneration, and gradually changes affect the vertebrae themselves.

That is, the essence of osteochondrosis of the spine is the gradual destruction of the intervertebral discs.

Osteochondrosis can develop anywhere in the spine.

Due to the heavy load, osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine is more common. The symptoms are:

  • low back pain, which may be sharp or dull, constant, may increase with movement;
  • pain can be given to the legs, pelvic organs, to the sacrum;
  • in severe cases, there may be a violation of sensitivity or mobility, atrophy of the muscles of the lower extremities.

The second most common is cervical osteochondrosis, most often associated with prolonged uncomfortable position of the head, for example when working at a computer or with documents. Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is manifested by the following symptoms:

  • headaches and dizziness, migraines;
  • visual or hearing disturbances, flashing "flies" in front of the eyes;
  • pain may radiate to the back of the head, shoulders, collarbones;
  • possible violation of sensitivity in the hands.

Less often, osteochondrosis affects the thoracic spine, as the vertebrae are inactively connected to each other. Injury to this area can masquerade as heart or lung disease. Symptoms of Thoracic Osteochondrosis of the Spine:

  • back pain at the level of the shoulder blades, in the chest, which may increase with flexion, rotation, inspiration or expiration;
  • skin sensitivity disorders.

Regardless of the level of damage, pain in osteochondrosis of the spine can increase with pressure on the vertebrae involved in the process.

With the defeat of several departments, we can immediately talk about generalized osteochondrosis of the spine.

Risk factors and causes of the disease

The spine has high resistance and the development of the disease requires the action of several triggering factors at the same time. It is important to understand that most, if not all, of these factors can be influenced by the patient and thus reduce the likelihood of developing the disease.

  • lack of movement - this worsens the blood supply, and therefore the nutrition of all elements of the spine;
  • excessive physical activity is also harmful and can damage the intervertebral discs;
  • long stay in the wrong, unphysiological position - the inappropriate height of the table or chair leads to the fact that a person is forced to constantly tilt his head, bend over;
  • stress - excessive tension in the muscles can lead to compression of the vessels that supply the spine;
  • overweight;
  • smoking impairs microcirculation in all body tissues;
  • Insufficient intake of water and protein affects, among other things, the condition of the intervertebral discs.

The immediate causes of osteochondrosis of the spine are not always obvious, but the following options can be distinguished:

  • hereditary predisposition - genetically programmed characteristics of cartilage and bone tissue, in which the wear process is faster;
  • spinal injuries - a variety of complications can develop at the site of injury, including osteochondrosis;
  • occupational hazards such as vibration;
  • exposure to infections or chemicals;
  • natural aging of the body.

People from various professions are at risk of developing osteochondrosis of the spine. These are builders and athletes, surgeons and office workers.

Stages of osteochondrosis and possible complications

The description of the four stages of osteochondrosis of the spine was proposed by Osna in 1971. They are not used to formulate a diagnosis, but they allow you to understand how the disease develops.

  1. Intervertebral discs become less elastic. The disc may be slightly deformed, there is a displacement of the inner nucleus pulposus within the disc. This phase either does not manifest at all, or there are minor pains.
  2. In the second stage, cracks may appear in the disc and the surrounding ligaments may weaken. The connection of the vertebrae becomes unstable. There are attacks of acute pain with disability.
  3. The third stage is characterized by complete damage to the intervertebral disc. When the nucleus pulposus leaves the disc, a herniated disc occurs. Spinal deformity or nerve root entrapment may occur.
  4. In the fourth stage, the surrounding tissues are affected - vertebrae, ligaments, spinal membranes. As a result, the vertebral segment can completely lose mobility.

As a result of spinal osteochondrosis, various complications occur in some cases. Problems with the intervertebral discs, hernia and protrusion can lead to narrowing of the spinal canal, spinal cord compression and disability.

Depending on the level of injury, various problems with nerve root involvement are possible. These are intercostal neuralgia, violations of sensitivity and motor function of the upper and lower extremities, disorders in the functioning of internal organs. Inflammation of the sciatic nerve, or sciatica, not only causes severe pain but can also lead to pelvic organ disease and infertility.

In addition to nerve roots, osteochondrosis can compress vertebral vessels. If blood flow is disturbed in the vertebral arteries that pass through the cervical region and feed the brain, brain disorders, problems with vision or hearing, breathing, or heart activity can develop.

Approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of osteochondrosis: conventional and alternative methods

Within the scope of official medicine, the diagnosis of osteochondrosis includes an examination by a neurologist to determine the degree of damage to the nerve roots, checking reflexes and sensitivity.

Of the instrumental methods, the following can be used:

  • The ultrasound of the vessels allows identifying the degree of circulatory disorders, for example, in the vertebral arteries;
  • Spine X-ray;
  • CT also uses radiological methods, but allows the construction of a three-dimensional image of the area under study, to identify even small displacements of the vertebrae;
  • Magnetic resonance imaging is specialized in the study of soft tissues, allows you to assess the condition of the spinal cord, visualize the internal structure of the intervertebral disc.

For the differential diagnosis, laboratory tests, general blood and urine tests and indicators of calcium metabolism are used.

Osteochondrosis therapy is complex.

  • The first and very important tool in the treatment of osteochondrosis is lifestyle. Normalization of working conditions, moderate and regular exercise, as well as healthy sleep significantly improve the condition of patients.
  • For the drug treatment of osteochondrosis of the spine, a neurologist or general practitioner may prescribe medication. Most often, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed - this is the standard treatment for spinal osteochondrosis. They reduce pain and reduce inflammation. Muscle relaxants help reduce muscle spasm. Vitamins and antioxidants are prescribed to protect nerve tissue from damage. However, any medication has side effects, for example NSAIDs can adversely affect the stomach.
  • In addition to medications, physiotherapy is used, for example, massage for osteochondrosis of the spine, as well as manual therapy. In severe complications of osteochondrosis, surgery may be necessary, but it is prescribed only if there is no long-term effect of conservative treatment.

The treatment of osteochondrosis in classical medicine in most cases is a lengthy process and can have negative effects on human health.

Thus, several drugs, in particular painkillers and muscle relaxants (especially with a sedative effect), can be addictive, and some drugs adversely affect the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract.

Alternatively, you can consider methods used, for example, in traditional Chinese medicine.

Traditional Chinese medicine is very popular all over the world, in many countries there are special centers and training courses. Approaches and methods of therapy in the Celestial Empire differ from the usual European view of disease diagnosis and treatment.

All diseases are considered to be a violation of the balance and movement of Qi energy in the body, and therapeutic measures are aimed at restoring this balance. In China, various medicinal herbs, animal components, minerals are used, as well as various methods of external influence, such as acupuncture and acupressure.

These techniques have a wide range of indications and a minimal number of side effects.


Synonymous names for this method are acupuncture, reflexology. The principle of acupuncture treatment is to place needles at bioactive points. Each point is associated with the organ on which the impact is made.

Reflexology allows you to relieve tension and muscle spasms, has an anesthetic effect, helps to reduce pain. The method is safe as most doctors use sterile disposable needles.

And in the case of using gold or silver coated needles, they must be sterilized without fail. Feelings during the procedure depend on individual susceptibility, the patient may feel tingling or numbness.

It is important that the procedure is performed by a highly qualified specialist with extensive experience. Improper needle placement will be useless or even harmful. In some cases, acupuncture is combined with exposure to low doses of electrical current.


This is a specific way to influence hotspots with the help of special absinthe cigars. The principle of action is similar to acupuncture and is often used in combination. A smoking cigar is installed on the body in a special wooden house, while the active points are heated. Wormwood has a disinfecting, calming and relaxing effect.

This method is safe because the shiny part of the cigar does not come into contact with the skin, although in some parts of China direct methods that act on the skin are used.


Massage therapy in China is practiced by several different schools. They use rotating techniques, pressing with a finger, manual therapy methods. Traditional massage techniques allow you to work muscles and joints, as well as indirectly affecting other organs and tissues, as well as helping to increase the body's defenses.


Traditional Chinese gymnastics, such as massage, have several schools. Gentle stretching and twisting Qigong movements are great as exercises for the spine with osteochondrosis.

Qigong techniques do not require special equipment and can be performed at home.

However, before that, it is best to choose the right exercises with your doctor, as well as work out the correct execution technique under the guidance of a qualified specialist.

The level of science and medicine in China is very high, the combination of tradition and innovation gives amazing results. An example of the achievement of Chinese science is DNA therapy methods and DNA vaccines - these are the methods that are currently being used to develop cancer treatments and fight HIV.

Osteochondrosis of the spine in the elderly. Rehabilitation features

People age differently: some keep a clear mind, are optimistic about life situations, and are cheerful. Others, having passed retirement age, lose interest in life.

  • The rate of aging of the body depends on many factors, they are:
  • 1) the genetic program for the development and decomposition of the organism;
  • 2) the impact on a person of various adverse life events.
  • An adverse effect on a person is produced by poor housing conditions, harmful working conditions, living in an unfavorable climate, inability to receive full-fledged medical and social care on time, an unhealthy lifestyle (malnutrition, bad habits and prolonged emotional stress).
  • When organizing treatment and rehabilitation measures for the elderly, it is necessary to take into account the age-related and functional changes in this period of life.
  • With aging, the volume of muscle mass decreases, the contractility of muscles weakens, changes occur in all parts of the spine.

Cervical osteochondrosis. The primary stage of the disease does not require special treatment. Standard preventive measures are able to deal with the pathology at this stage.

The greatest danger is the violation of the blood circulation of the brain, leading to a general disturbance of functions and the formation of numerous foci of necrosis of brain tissues.


Regardless of the treatment methods chosen, preventing osteochondrosis plays an equally important role. What can be done for spine health:

  • drink a lot of water;
  • control your weight, don't overeat;
  • choose the right shoes, if necessary - orthopedic insoles;
  • choose a good mattress to sleep, not too soft and that gives enough support to the spine;
  • eat foods rich in collagen (fish, turkey, aspic, various jellies);
  • do regular exercise;
  • Adjust the height of the table and chair, taking growth into account.

As far as alternative methods of prevention are concerned, massage, qigong, and acupuncture have all worked well, for the very understandable reasons outlined above.

It is important to remember that back pain can and should be treated. To change your lifestyle, it is not necessary to wait for the first signs of illness.

Now you can get up from the computer, stretch your neck, add walks or massages to your to-do list.

And if osteochondrosis of the spine has become a problem that prevents you from living in peace, the joint efforts of science and traditional medicine will help restore health and the joy of movement.