Cervical osteochondrosis: symptoms, treatment at home

how osteochondrosis of the cervical spine manifests itself

Cervical osteochondrosis, or spondylosis, occurs as a result of changes in the shape and structure of the vertebrae. Despite the fact that the cervical region is quite short compared to the total length of the spine, it is perhaps the most important part of the spine. Each pair of adjacent vertebrae forms an intervertebral foramen through which nerve roots exit and go to each muscle and organ of the upper half of the body. Through other openings - in the lateral processes of these vertebrae - are vital vessels that supply the blood supply to the brain.

Causes of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

The causes of osteochondrosis are:

  • lesions,
  • "sedentary" work behind a monitor located below eye level
  • physical labor associated with carrying heavy loads
  • long-term guide,
  • works "on the phone" without using remote devices (in this case, the operator presses the handset to his ear with his shoulder)
  • constitutional features (torticollis, congenital changes of the cervical vertebrae, short neck)

Formation of pathological changes in the vertebrae

With osteochondrosis, small cusps begin to form at the edges of the vertebral bodies, which can damage nearby structures. Most often this occurs in response to excessive stress on the cervical spine, and not only is it the result of "aging" of the intervertebral joints (remember that it was first considered degenerative osteochondrosis, then a natural "age-related" disease, such as osteoarthritis). As the disease progresses, the vertebral endplates become compact and the height of the intervertebral discs decreases. These discs normally act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae and, among other things, prevent damage to the spinal roots. With progressive osteochondrosis, a protrusion (hernia) of the nucleus pulposus of the intervertebral disc occurs, on which increasing pressure is exerted in the process of the disease, while the "held" ligaments on all sides weaken. This hernia is also capable of compressing the spinal structures and causing neurological manifestations of the disease.

What are the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis?

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine with pain syndrome

Any pain in the neck area suggests a pathology of the cervical spine. According to the increasing intensity of the pain syndrome, they are divided into 4 stages, at the first stage the patient feels numbness, tingling, a feeling of "tension" in the area of ​​a certain muscle group, at the fourth stage - the most severe - thepain is so intense that it leads to immobility of the patient and loss of ability to work. x / p>

In addition to pain in the cervical and occipital region, the patient notes "reflected" (radiated) pain in the upper limb, in the lateral subscapular regions of the chest.

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine with root syndrome

Nerve root involvement in the process is said to be when pain, numbness and tingling sensation spread to the lower jaw area, upper back, forearm and fingers. At the same time, the patient pays attention to the fact that he "seemed to lie down" his arm, he slept uncomfortably. Morning stiffness in the joints of the fingers is noted, lasting no more than 10-15 minutes. With the development of root syndromes, on examination there may be a decrease in muscle strength of the upper extremities.

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine with "vertebral artery syndrome"

The involvement of blood vessels in the process (compression of the same by a hernial protrusion or osteophyte) is said when the patient complains of frequent attacks of headache, especially after being in a certain position for a long time, whenthe head is tilted back (for example, when swimming with a frog), if the noise is disturbed in the ears and dizziness. This clinical situation is well identified by ultrasound (with "Doppler mapping"). Ultrasound determines the tortuosity of the vertebral arteries, narrowing their lumen. In this case, we can talk about surgical intervention, since a pronounced change in blood flow in the vertebral arteries is a risk factor for the development of a stroke.

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine with "cardiac (heart) syndrome"

This syndrome forces the patient to first consult a cardiologist, since the main complaints concern pain in the left half of the chest, subscapularis, which weakens or worsens with physical activity or with changes in body position. After excluding myocardial infarction and other heart diseases, the patient is hospitalized under the supervision and treatment of a neurologist and orthopedist.


Four methods are used to clarify the diagnosis: X-ray, ultrasound, computed tomography and magnetic resonance.

The most accessible method is still the cervical radiography, the most informative is the lateral projection radiography ("lateral view"). This method allows, as a first approximation, to establish the presence of trauma, gross structural changes in the vertebrae.

Ultrasound examination (US) is performed to clarify the condition of the vertebral arteries. Using this method, they find out if blood flow is disturbed and, if so, to what extent and what kind of obstructions have occurred and where they are located.

Computed tomography (CT). Allows you to more accurately assess the state of bone structures, the degree of bone density, allows you to see smaller osteophytes (bone growths) than is possible with radiography.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This type of examination is indispensable for suspected hernias, the exact location of the spinal cord injury and the extent of this injury. This study is necessary if the question concerns the operative (surgical) treatment of diseases of the cervical spine.

Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis


The standard set of drugs for the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis reflects the goals of treatment: to relieve pain by removing painful muscle spasm and inflammation of the nerve roots, increasing the mobility of the spine. To achieve these goals, they are used, first of all, by the use of painkillers, NSAIDs - non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants. It should be remembered that self-medication with drugs of these groups can be dangerous, as there is a possibility of misinterpreting the symptoms, as well as underestimating the side effects of these drugs. Local (cutaneous) NSAID drugs are widely used in the form of a gel, and when the pain stops, the same drugs can be used as ointments.

For the treatment of osteochondrosis at a deeper, "basic" level, slow-acting systemic drugs are used. These substances restore the cartilage structures of the vertebrae, preventing their further damage. The treatment cycles are long, the effect lasts for many months.

Cervical osteochondrosis differs significantly from the pathology of other parts of the spine. Neck pain in this case can be provoked not by the signals of the suffering spinal nerves, but by a chronic painful muscle overload - all together this is called musculo-tonic syndrome. This is a completely "benign" condition that responds well to treatment with the same set of drugs: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, with the aid of intramuscular "blocks" with the use of steroids. Usually, the doctor reveals severe pain when probing so-called "trigger" points along the entire cervical spine, as well as in the muscles of the upper shoulder girdle. Most often, this pathology occurs in women, mostly under 40 years of age. Despite the severe pain syndrome, the neurovascular structures remain intact, the blood flow to the head area is not affected.

Manual therapy

This method of treatment can be effective for recent neck pain (often due to minor injuries, subluxations), not accompanied by dizziness, other changes in the nervous system and circulatory system. Manual therapy is allowed only after a thorough examination, and the doctor performing this procedure must have sufficient experience in the field of traumatology and orthopedics.Manual therapy is dangerous for the "old" forms of disease!

Two methods of this type of intervention are known:

  • manipulation (strong short impacts of significant force, aimed at eliminating subluxation, the known "bone clicks");
  • mobilization (the method is based on regular neck extension after warming and relaxing the neck muscle corset).

A combined method is also used, based on a combination of two main methods. It is important to remember that, in addition to the indicated contraindications, manual therapy is prohibited for any disease accompanied by an increase in blood pressure, for any pathology of the thyroid gland and ENT organs.

Home treatment of cervical osteochondrosis

Therapeutic exercises for cervical osteochondrosis

The first and most important rule for beginners to engage in physiotherapy exercises is not to exercise, overcoming the painful sensations. It goes without saying that you shouldn't start in the "acute" period, when the pain has just appeared. Another important recommendation is to avoid sudden movements and circular movements in the cervical spine.

Each session should begin with a short, light self-massage of the neck muscles.

This is followed by a warm up warm-up:

  • The hands are lowered along the body, the shoulders are straight, the back is straight (you can control the posture by lightly pressing the heels, shoulder blades and buttocks against the wall). We walk in place for 1 minute on the whole foot, 1 minute on the toes, 1 minute on the heels.
  • The starting position is the same. We clench our hands into fists, raise and lower the shoulders, the arms are straightened. The movements are slow, we do 20 repetitions, the last climb is longer than 5 seconds. Make sure your neck muscles are not "pinched".
  • The starting position is the same. We tilt our head in turn to the right, then to the left. Movements are smooth, a tilt for 8 counts, at the extreme point of the tilt - hold for 8 seconds.
  • Starting position - the same or sitting on a hard chair. The smooth head tilts forward, at the extreme point: hold
  • for 8 seconds
  • Starting position - the same or sitting on a hard chair. Slowly tilt your head forward, completely with your chin in your chest, then slowly turn your head to the right (by 4 points) and to the left (by 4 points). Do not overload your muscles.
  • Starting position - the same or sitting on a hard chair. Raise your shoulders 4 counts, then gently lower them 4 counts. 10 repetitions.
  • Starting position - the same or sitting on a hard chair. Shrug your shoulders, but now we make circular motions from front to back, for 8 counts. 10 repetitions.
  • Align your back, check your posture. For 4 counts we bring the shoulder blades behind the back, trying to join them, at the end point we stop for 8 seconds, then we return to the starting position.


As already mentioned, hypertonicity of the neck muscles is the first and often the main cause of the development of cervical osteochondrosis. The rational choice of a pillow and a mattress, ensuring a relaxed and comfortable position during sleep are no less important than gymnastics, physiotherapy and drugs.

When choosing a mattress, pay attention to the composition of the putty (products that are at least half made of coconut flakes, that is, with a sufficient degree of rigidity, are suitable). Soft spring mattresses do not straighten the spine sufficiently. The most optimal position for sleeping is on your side, pulling one or both knees towards the stomach. The pillow should be positioned so that it fills all the space between the shoulder, ear and mattress, while the parietal part (crown) of the head is on the same horizontal line with the spine. Pillows that are too high and too low and soft should be avoided. The ideal option is a product with an ergonomic shape, that is, in this case, with a small squeeze roller on one side.

General guidelines

Pay attention to your posture. When walking or standing, the correct position is when the chest protrudes forward and the abdomen is pulled in.

Avoid sitting for long periods. There is a simple rule for the prevention of cervical osteochondrosis: after every 60 minutes of work, a 10-15 minute walk or warm-up period is required.

The work chair must have a headrest or a high backrest.

While sitting, your legs should rest on the floor and your neck shouldn't be strained. For this purpose, use special orthopedic devices: reinforcements under the neck when driving in a car, a pillow under the back.

Avoid lifting heavy loads. If necessary, kneel down, press a heavy object against your torso and then gently rise using the strength of the leg muscles, but not the back pull.

Don't bend over with your legs straight. Use stands, work surfaces to bring the object closer to you and do not tilt your face towards the object. Try doing your homework while sitting in a chair or gym ball.

If you have to use a mop, broom or rake, don't strain your arms, back, neck, and don't bend over to the side.

Avoid breaststroke.