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

In the modern world this disease are almost all people over the age of 25. Cervical osteochondrosis is far more common than in other parts of the spine. The relevance of this topic cannot be overemphasized.

In this article we will look at what causes this disease, what appears, how to treat cervical osteochondrosis, which drugs effective in its treatment, which drug-free methods exist as well as learn the answers to the most frequently asked questions of patients with a similar diagnosis.

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

cervical osteochondrosis

The causes of osteochondrosis of the cervical

As a result of the following factors occurs increase in the load on the cervical spine, the neck muscles are trying to compensate for the extra load, there is a spasm, the blood circulation in this zone, which leads to degenerative changes. Due to a number of factors there are changes in the intervertebral discs of the cervical, changing their structure, their food is disturbed, changes occur in small joints between the vertebrae, appear bony growths vertebral bodies, due to the increased load on the intervertebral discs changed.

The factors contributing to the development of degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine:

  • Incorrect posture and the presence of scoliosis
  • Overweight
  • Lack of exercise, sedentary work
  • Previously suffering a spinal injury
  • The metabolic
  • Great exercise
  • Stress and constant tension
  • Low level of physical fitness
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Habitual wrong position of a body, for example, holding the telephone handset shoulder
  • Constant tension back, neck due to the nature of work (stress in a sitting position) drivers, office workers.
  • Developmental abnormalities in the cervical spine

The degree of development of cervical degenerative disc disease

The degree of osteochondrosis is a clinical picture and complaints of the patient. Should not the concept of degree to be confused with the stages of degenerative disc disease. About the stages will be discussed below.

First degree

clinical manifestations are minimal, the patient may complain of pain in the cervical spine is low intensity, it may intensify when you turn your head. The physical examination may reveal slight muscle tension of the neck.

Second degree

patient concerned about pain in the cervical spine, its intensity is much greater, the pain may be radiating to the shoulder, in the arm. This occurs due to the decreased height of the intervertebral disc and pinched nerve nerves. Pain is worse when bending and turning of the head. The patient may note decreased performance, weakness, headache.

Third degree

symptoms of cervical degenerative disc disease are amplified, the pain is constant radiating to the arm or shoulder. Numbness or weakness in the muscles of the hands, so how are herniated discs. Worried weakness, dizziness. When examination revealed reduced mobility in the cervical spine, pain on palpation of the cervical.

The fourth degree

there is a complete destruction of the intervertebral disc and its replacement by connective tissue. The dizziness intensifies, there is a noise in the ears, loss of coordination, as the process involves the vertebral artery supplying the cerebellum and the occipital lobe of the brain.

The clinical picture of degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine — symptoms and signs

Symptoms of degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine are different from the manifestations of the disease in other parts of the spine. This is because the cervical vertebrae are located closer to each other, the intervertebral discs have a relatively small height, resulting in the clinic even in the most minor pathological processes. Also in the cervical spine often results in compression of the nerve roots and spinal cord.

The most common symptoms degenerative disc disease cervical symptoms:

  • Pain: pain can have different localization, they can be in the neck, in the occipital region, shoulder or upper extremity. Pain in the shoulder or arm appear when the process involves the nerve root, Innervate the upper limb. Pain in the back of the head are caused by spasm of the neck muscles that attach to the occipital bone and the blood circulation in this area.
  • Weakness of the hands occurs when damaged the spine, which includes motor nerves that Innervate the arm muscles.
  • Decreased sensation in the hand occurs when damaged the spine, which contains sensitive nerves, innervating the skin of the upper limb.
  • Limitation of motion of the cervical spine and crunch when movement occurs due to the decreased height of the intervertebral disc, the appearance of bony growths on the vertebral bodies and destruction of the small joints between the cervical vertebrae.
  • Dizziness, loss of coordination, weakness - all these symptoms are due to involvement of the vertebral artery, which runs in its own channel, located in the transverse processes of the cervical vertebrae. The development of cervical degenerative disc disease, formation of fibrous tissue, the displacement of the vertebrae, worsening blood flow in these arteries, which leads to deterioration of blood supply to the occipital lobes of the cerebrum and cerebellum.
  • Numbness of the tongue, hearing loss and vision

occur in severe cases in severe deterioration of blood supply to the occipital lobes of the cerebrum, cerebellum and stem.

Symptoms depending on the damaged vertebra

Separately, you can select radicular syndromes, leading to the different sensory and motor disorders. They differ depending on which vertebra is compressing the spinal nerve root:

  • C1: leading to numbness and impaired sensation in the back of the head;
  • C2: pain in parietal region and occiput;
  • C3: violation of speech, sensitivity to language, pain, and decreased sensation in the side where disadvantaged spinal nerve;
  • C4: heart pain, left upper quadrant, shoulder, scapula, respiratory disorders, decreased tone of the muscles of the neck;
  • C5: shoulder pain in the outer region;
  • C6: pain that radiates from the forearm to the thumb, and from the neck to the shoulder blade;
  • C7: pain in back of shoulder, from the neck to the shoulder-blade, gives a forearm to 2-4 fingers of a hand;
  • C8: pain from neck to shoulder from the forearm to the little finger.

Diagnosis of cervical degenerative disc disease

Main diagnostic methods:

  • Radiography of the cervical spine. Is an uninformative method, especially in the later stages of the disease.
  • CT. Better show changes in the vertebrae, but it is difficult to determine the size and the presence of intervertebral hernia, and the presence of disco-medullary conflict (compression of the spinal hernia).
  • Magnetic resonance imaging. The most informative method. Perfectly visible not only bone structure, but also the intervertebral discs, hernia, their size, their direction of growth.
  • If you suspect a violation of blood flow in vertebral arteries, use ultrasound duplex scanning. This method allows to accurately determine whether there is a decrease in the speed of blood flow, whether there is an impediment to the normal blood flow.

Radiographic stage of cervical degenerative disc disease.

  • Stage 1 – minimal changes in the configuration of the vertebrae, flattening the cervical lordosis (bending).
  • Stage 2 – instability between the vertebrae, possible displacement of one vertebra relative to another, torsion (rotation around the axis of the spine), a slight decrease in the height of the intervertebral disc.
  • Stage 3 – reducing the height of the intervertebral disc ¼ relatively located above the disk, changes in the intervertebral joints, posterior osteophytes (outgrowths of bone), narrowing of the intervertebral holes and the narrowing of the spinal canal that houses the spinal cord with its membranes.
  • Stage 4 – a significant reduction in the height of the intervertebral disc, significant changes in the intervertebral joints, huge rear osteophytes, significant narrowing of the intervertebral holes and significant narrowing of the spinal canal with formation of myelopathy.
pain in the neck

Principles of treatment of cervical degenerative disc disease

The main methods of treatment of degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine is medication, physical therapy, massage neck and neck area, particularly effective therapeutic exercises with cervical osteochondrosis. The main groups of drugs used in this disease are:

The name of the group Action
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce pain, reduce inflammation and swelling of the spine of the damaged nerve.
B vitamins improve the metabolic processes in the nervous tissue.
Drugs that improve blood rheology and blood flow improve the nutrition of the damaged nerve roots and improves blood flow to the brain.
Chondroprotectors drugs that restore cartilage tissue, including damaged intervertebral disc.
Muscle relaxants drugs that relieve muscle spasm.

Attention! These drugs are not intended, presented only for information.

Physiotherapy in the treatment of cervical degenerative disc disease

Electrophoresis with drugs. Under the action of an electric current the ions of the preparations fall into place. Done novocaine for analgesia or aminophylline to improve blood flow.
Ultrasound has anti-inflammatory, analgesic effect, improves metabolic processes in the impact zone.
Magnetic therapy has an analgesic effect due to the removal of tissue edema.
Laser therapy due to light exposure is achieved anti-inflammatory effect and improves blood circulation.


Physical therapy with cervical osteochondrosis should be conducted outside of the acute exacerbation. The greatest efficiency of this technique in the recovery period. During performance of a complex must not be discomfort and pain!

Exercise # 1 Lying on his stomach, rest your hands on the floor, lift your head and torso, the back should be straight. Stay in this position for 1-2 minutes. Slowly sink down to the floor. Repeat 2-3 times.
Exercise # 2 Lying on your stomach, stretch your arms along the body, head turn left, try to touch ear the floor, then turn your head to the right. Repeat 6-7 times in each direction.
Exercise # 3 In the sitting position, on the inhale bend forward, and his head try to touch your chest, then exhaling, bend backward and bend your head. Repeat 10-15 times.
Exercise # 4 Sitting attach the palm to the forehead, pressure with the palms on the forehead, and the forehead on the palm of your hand. Continue this exercise for 30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
Exercise # 5 Slowly turn your head first one way, then in another direction. The 10 spins in each direction. Watch out to not appear dizziness. When it appears the exercise is terminated.

The most frequent questions patients with cervical osteochondrosis and answers

Can require surgery for cervical degenerative disc disease?

Indications for surgical intervention is the lack of effectiveness of conservative treatment for 6 months, accompanied by persistent pain and signs of nerve root damage and myelopathy. In all other cases, the operation is not carried out.

How long you can use NSAID?

Since most of the NSAIDs have a side effect on the mucous membrane of the stomach, a prolonged and frequent reception of these drugs is not recommended. When taking this group of drugs should strictly follow the recommendations of the attending physician, length of treatment can be individualized, it depends on the stage of osteoarthritis, the patient and his comorbidities.

How effective is taking chondroprotectors?

At the moment there is no evidence of the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of these drugs. In such cases, doctors are of the opinion that drug use is inappropriate.

How better to get vitamins in pill form or injection?

No difference in the level of assimilation of drugs in these two routes of administration no. Given the painful injections and the incidence of complications, it is recommended to take vitamins In tablet form.

What steps need to take out the aggravation?

It is best to do physical therapy at home 2 times a year to visit massage cervical area and limit excessive stress on the cervical spine.