On the causes, symptoms and treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

causes of cervical osteochondrosis

How to cure osteochondrosis of the cervical spine and what is the reason for its appearance? This question worries those women and men who are forced to solve emerging health problems every day: from annoying discomfort in the neck area to severe headaches and other troubles.

The main reason for the development of the disease is a decrease in the distance between the vertebrae due to the destruction of the cartilaginous tissue between them.

For reference.Osteochondrosis in the cervical spine is a degenerative-dystrophic progressive disease that is widespread due to excessive mobility of the vertebral spine in the neck. Osteochondrosis of the spine is caused by uncontrolled physical activity, injury and a weak muscle corset. All these reasons ultimately lead to the development of cervical osteochondrosis.

Etiology of the disease

The main reason why cervical osteochondrosis develops is a decrease in the distance between the vertebrae due to the gradual destruction of the cartilaginous tissue between them. Any unsuccessful position provokes a shift of the vertebrae, and the vessels and nerves are pinched.

The most common causes of osteochondrosis:

  • Genetic predisposition to the disease.
  • Overweight and metabolic disorders.
  • Frequent infections, intoxication of the body.
  • Poor, inadequate nutrition with a minimum intake of vitamins, minerals and fluids, which leads to deformation of the vertebrae.
  • Curvature of the spine, trauma, bruises, fractures, poor posture (osteochondrosis of the initial section).
  • Flat feet and instability in the segments of the spine, including the bodies of the cervical vertebrae.
  • Work associated with heavy lifting or frequent changes in body position (jerks, turns).
  • Sedentary lifestyle, bad ecology.
  • Performing hard work with an undeveloped musculoskeletal system, which leads to deformation of the vertebra.
  • Prolonged forced position of the body, nervous strain and stress.
  • "Wrong" sleep pillows that change the position of the cervical vertebrae.
symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of illness.

It is important to remember that the onset of osteochondrosis may not be noticed. That is why in case of any discomfort in the neck area, it is necessary to consult a specialist in a timely manner.

The following causes of osteochondrosis are theoretical, but encountered in practice:


Associated with tissue trophic disorders during the aging process, which primarily concerns the intervertebral discs and vertebrae, where a large number of blood vessels pass.


Along with hormonal disorders in the body, degenerative changes (osteochondrosis) occur, with the involvement of intervertebral discs in the process.


Observed in violation of segmental circulation and water-salt metabolism. Subsequently, degenerative changes are formed in tissues and organs, including osteochondrosis of the neck.


An infection that occurs in the intervertebral discs of the cervical spine and surrounding tissues, disrupts the diffusion of lymphatic fluid and leads to a change in the nutrition of tissues and cervical vertebrae. This is what causes the degenerative changes in the spine, characteristic of osteochondrosis.


Inversion of the vector forces of bioelectric fields in the intervertebral disc occurs due to injuries, overloads and temperature changes. Ultimately, osteochondrosis of the spine appears and is most often polysegmental.


Injuries and significant overloads on the spine lead to disruption of the integrity of the annulus fibrosus and degeneration of the cervical spine discs.


This refers to congenital anomalies of the spinal column and its individual structural parts. At the same time, healthy vertebrae of the cervical spine take on a double load, which leads to their rapid wear and the development of osteochondrosis of the neck.


Primary pathological changes concern muscle tissue due to congenital or acquired factors. Uneven muscle contraction in one plane provokes osteochondrosis of the neck.

Disease stages

Cervical osteochondrosis has four degrees of disease. They are characterized by specific symptoms and changes that affect the cervical spine:

stages of development of cervical osteochondrosis
  1. Grade 1damage to the nucleus pulposus occurs as a result of metabolic disorders. It becomes less elastic, dries up and cannot cope with the loads in the cervical spine. In degree 1, the patient does not feel pain, only occasionally stiffness occurs. Treatment at this stage of lesions of the cervical spine is most effective, a simple course of massage helps.
  2. Grade 2damage to the annulus fibrosus occurs, microcracks form on the lateral and posterior surfaces of the vertebral disc. A patient with pathology to this degree begins to feel pain in the neck.
  3. Grade 3the bone structure undergoes changes, the annulus fibrosus is deformed and torn. All nearby tissues, nerves and blood vessels are affected, the patient experiences a lack of air, noises in the ears and head. Osteochondrosis of the neck in the 3rd degree is characterized by the appearance of aching pain in the back of the head, it becomes very difficult to turn the head.
  4. Grade 4degenerative spine restoration occurs, the process lasts about a year. In the deformed vertebra, there is a change in the growth of bone tissue (it grows in breadth). The diseased spine gradually turns into a static, painless, frozen bone pillar.

Only timely prevention of osteochondrosis will help prevent the development of the disease.

Primary manifestations of osteochondrosis, including polysegmental, occur after 35 years of age, and the older the person, the more often patients come with complaints to a specialist about neck pain. The most common causes of pathology are nowadays a long stay at the computer and driving a car. Such forced positions of the spine lead to destabilization in the spinal column.

Typical clinical manifestations

The symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis have a pronounced personality and differ from the symptoms of the disease in other parts of the spine. This is due to the structural features of the vertebrae and the fact that they are much closer than in the thoracic and lumbar regions. That is why, even with the most insignificant pathologies, cervical osteochondrosis makes itself felt faster.

The following signs of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine are the most characteristic:


The very first symptom that lets a person know about the beginning of a problem in the neck. It can be localized: neck, back of the head, shoulder, upper arm. If a nerve root is involved in the pathological process, which is "responsible" for the innervation of the upper arm, unpleasant sensations appear that resemble aches. Occipital pain occurs with severe spasm of the neck muscles attached to the occipital bone. In addition, blood flow is disturbed, which provokes the appearance of symptoms of poor blood supply in the brain.

Weakness in the hands

clinical manifestations of cervical osteochondrosis

This symptom is caused by damage to the nerve root and fibers that perform motor function and innervate the muscles of the arms.

A symptom of the disease may be weakness and poor sensitivity in the hands.

Poor sensitivity in hands

This symptom is due to damage to the sensitive nerve fibers that innervate the skin.

Crunch and limitation of neck movement

These are characteristic symptoms that indicate a “drying out” of the intervertebral disc. In addition, there is an increase in bone tissue and degeneration in the small joints located between the cervical vertebrae.

Poor coordination

Symptoms indicate that cervical osteochondrosis is progressing. Both the nerves and the vertebral artery are pinched, and with the formation of fibrous tissue and displacement of the vertebrae, blood flow deteriorates, which leads to symptoms that indicate poor blood supply to the cerebellum and brain. In severe cases, the following symptoms develop: hearing loss, tongue numbness, vision problems.

As you can see, osteochondrosis is by no means a harmless disease, which is eloquently indicated by the symptoms.

Principles of therapeutic interventions

Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis in men and women is based on stopping all the symptoms of the disease and eliminating the causes of cervical osteochondrosis. Symptoms are mainly associated with compression of nerve fibers and blood vessels, therefore, it is primarily important to eliminate edema, inflammation and restore normal blood supply. Cervical osteochondrosis in the initial stages successfully retreats with the use of physiotherapy exercises, when they do not resort to medication.

The success of treatment depends only on the teamwork of qualified doctors.

With the development of cervical osteochondrosis, the local therapist, who is almost always addressed initially, does not help much. As a rule, his treatment is only symptomatic, but he is not able to completely find out and eliminate the cause of the disease. Therefore, the success of treatment depends only on the teamwork of qualified doctors: vertebral neurologist, neurologist, surgeon, physiotherapist and massage therapist.

methods of treating cervical osteochondrosis

It is important to start treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine at the earliest stage, otherwise in 2-3 stages a strong change occurs in the vertebrae and the treatment will be long, difficult and not always effective. The mainstay of treatment for neck problems is medication, physical therapy, massage and remedial gymnastics.

Drugs used for cervical osteochondrosis:

  1. NSAIDs.
  2. Vitamins.
  3. Medicines that improve blood flow.
  4. Muscle relaxants.
  5. Chondroprotectors.

Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis is carried out using the following physiotherapy methods:

  • Ultrasound (relieves pain, improves metabolic processes).
  • Electrophoresis (drug delivery to a problem area).
  • Laser therapy (relieves inflammation and improves blood circulation).
  • Magnetotherapy (relieves tissue swelling).

Cervical osteochondrosis should not be underestimated. Very often, men and women experience slight discomfort in the neck, especially when sitting at a computer for a long time or in any other forced position. At the very beginning, you do not need to take medications, but try to eliminate the cause or periodically do light exercises (at work or at home). Indications for surgical treatment: lack of effect from conservative treatment (drugs, physiotherapy, gymnastics), constant pain, myelopathy, cerebrovascular accident.