Cervical-thoracic osteochondrosis

symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis

The most common cause of upper and middle back pain is cervicothoracic osteochondrosis. And although this slowly progressing pathology is not fatal, it significantly worsens a person's quality of life, and in some cases can cause disability. And only the maximum possible elimination of factors that lead to uneven pressure on the segments of the spine movement can slow down the irreversible processes of biological aging and thus alleviate the condition.

Causes of degenerative spinal lesions

Osteochondrosis of the cervicothoracic region is a multifactorial pathology of the intervertebral discs that connect 7 cervical and 12 thoracic vertebrae. The most common causes of degenerative changes are:

  • gravity (displacement of the center of gravity and redistribution of axial load)
  • prolonged work in a forced position
  • vibration
  • hypodynamics
  • autoimmune diseases
  • spinal overload associated with pathologies of the musculoskeletal system (deformities, flat feet)
  • infectious and inflammatory processes in nearby structures
  • metabolic disorders
  • hereditary anomalies in connective tissue development
  • traumatic injuries
  • excessive static or dynamic loads
  • hormonal imbalance

Provoke worsening of osteochondrosis in men and women can be stress, prolonged nervous tension, malnutrition, hypothermia.

Symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervical and thoracic spine

Degenerative processes in the affected intervertebral discs are accompanied by local pain syndromes and referred pain. Due to the disturbance of the blood supply to the brain, patients complain of cephalgia, dizziness, "flies" in front of the eyes, pain in the shoulder or the entire upper extremity, in the intercostal and interscapular region. There is discomfort, tingling in the neck, chest, abdomen, periodic painful pulsation in the ear or temple, pain when coughing and sneezing.

After a long stay in a forced position, a feeling of tightness occurs. Cervicothoracic osteochondrosis often occurs with typical cardiac symptoms, which greatly complicates the diagnosis. Additional signs include numbness of certain parts of the skin, indigestion, increased pain on deep breathing, difficulty breathing in a supine position.

Stages of osteochondrosis

The pathological process has 4 stages of development:

And - swelling and movement of the pulpal substance inside the disc, irritation of the peripheral nerve endings. Cervical and thoracic lumbago occur in the background of physical activity

II - rupture of the fibrous ring, violation of fixation between the bodies of the vertebrae, instability of the vertebral segments. It is accompanied by constant muscle tension, functional blockages, limited mobility

III - rupture of the disc membrane and protrusion of the nucleus pulposus (hernia). Neurological syndromes of root compression are manifested by reflex prolapse, weakness, atrophy, sensitivity disorder in the innervation zone II - rupture of the fibrous ring, impaired fixation between the vertebral bodies, instability of the vertebral segments. It is accompanied by constant muscle tension, functional blockages, limited mobility

IV - degenerative lesion of all components of the intervertebral symphysis. Due to the mineralization and compaction of the disc, arthrosis of the facet joints develops, and mobility in the affected area is significantly limited.

Diagnostic methods

Diagnosis of vertebrogenic pathology is carried out in the complex, including:

  • collecting vital and pathological anamnesis
  • physical examination in a static position
  • diagnostic tests (study of active and passive movement disorders)
  • determination of neurological status
  • A simple X-ray of the spine with two projections
  • CT
  • MRI

In a professional clinic, when diagnosing various dorsopathies, magnetic resonance imaging is performed in combination with manual testing. The combined use of these methods provides complete information on the localization of the area of discogenic disorders, the structure and metabolic activity of cells, and the condition of all soft tissue components.

Which doctor to go to

A neurologist guides patients with vertebrogenic disorders. In addition, you may need the help of a chiropractor, a spinal surgeon.

How to treat cervicothoracic osteochondrosis

Treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical and thoracic spine includes:

  • a remedy for pain, swelling, and inflammation
  • manual therapy
  • massage and self-massage;
  • physiotherapeutic procedures (UVI, electrophoresis, laser, magnetotherapy, DDT)
  • reflexology
  • physiotherapy exercises
  • corsetting, tape gluing
  • postisometric relaxation

If osteochondrosis is complicated by an intervertebral hernia, surgery is recommended for the patient.


An indifferent attitude towards one's health and neglect of medical recommendations can lead to the active progression of the pathological process and the development of various reflex and compression syndromes:

  • chronic cervicocranialgia and thoracalgia (headaches originating from the cervical-occipital region, pain in the thoracic region)
  • limiting the tilt of the head in the direction opposite to the lesion
  • vegetative disorders of the upper extremities
  • sensation problems in the hands and fingers
  • dysfunction of internal organs
  • partial immobilization of the spine
  • disability

Prevention of cervicothoracic osteochondrosis

In order to reduce the influence of negative factors, it is recommended to regularly perform exercises aimed at strengthening the muscular framework. It is very important to monitor posture during long-term monotonous work, change body position more often, avoid large-amplitude movements and protect yourself from hypothermia and drafts.