Treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, symptoms

osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

A certain therapist with 50 years of experience once remarked: "When I started working, there was not a single young patient with osteochondrosis at the site. And today, almost every second thirty-year-old has this problem. "

Osteochondrosis - a disease caused by salt deposition 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.

By destroying these elements, the balance between the load on the spinal column and the carrying capacity is disturbed. As a result, the vertebrae begin to compress the adjacent nerve and muscle tissues, grow along the edges, forming the so-calledosteophytes, which emit a characteristic creaking sound when moving (patients mistakenly explain this as "salt deposition").

If the back and neck hurt, then it 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 belongs to the group of degenerative-dystrophic changes on the spine, there is also osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and it is possible to differentiate only after a comprehensive examination.

  • Degenerative-dystrophic changes occur in 30-50% of cases in 30-40-year-olds, in 75-100% of people over 40 years old.
  • These pathological processes account for 20. 4% of total disability from diseases of the osteoarticular system.
  • Long walking is bad for the spine

The opposite. Motor activity has a beneficial effect on the functioning of the spinal column: it maintains muscle tone, maintains intervertebral mobility, stimulates blood circulation and metabolism. Hypodynamia and a long stay in one, particularly uncomfortable position are "to blame" for the progression of the disease.

Another thing is if an overweight person walks a lot, carries heavy things, then the spine experiences an increased load.

Flat feet contribute to the development of osteochondrosis

All right. The arches of the feet, as well as the physiological curves of the spine, are designed to absorb impact loads when walking, running, jumping. If the foot does not provide adequate protection when interacting with the support, then 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 sure that way. As a rule, patients complain of constant aching pain in the back, often accompanied by numbness and pain in the limbs. Over time, if left untreated, limb muscles atrophy, spine joints become less mobile, muscle spasms appear.

Such an acute condition occurs due to arterial spasm as a response to the effects of bone growths, as well as due to disc herniation, 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 the vertebral artery syndrome will worsen the course.
  2. In osteochondrosis of the thoracic region, there are disturbing pains in the chest (a feeling as if a stake had been stuck there) - in the area of the heart and other internal organs; with lumbosacral lesions - in the lower back (radiation to the sacrum, lower limbs, sometimes to the pelvic organs).
  3. If complications of osteochondrosis develop (herniation of intervertebral discs, bony growths, spondylolisthesis, spondylarthrosis), then nerve root damage is noted - the pain becomes shooting, sensitivity worsens, weakness appears in the innervated muscles, and the weight of reflexes decreases.
  4. Osteochondrosis can cause dysfunction of various organs and tissues.

With osteochondrosis, the risk of circulatory disorders in the cerebellum, stem and occipital part of the brain increases.

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

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

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

Degenerative processes of the spinal column can cause congestion in the gastrointestinal tract, disorder of the bronchopulmonary system, which is full of inflammatory and other diseases.

Vegetovascular dystonia, intercostal neuralgia - consequences of osteochondrosis

Not sure that way. Osteochondrosis can be one of the reasons (far from the only one) for the development of these diseases.

When the intervertebral discs are "erased" and osteophytes grow, the intervertebral openings, the canal of the vertebral artery are narrowed and deformed, which leads to disruption 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 appear as in vegetovascular dystonia.

It is impossible to cure osteochondrosis

Indeed, the structures of the spinal column that have undergone degenerative changes cannot be completely restored. However, adequate complex treatment can remove the symptoms of the disease, stop the development of the pathology and avoid complications.

In case of problems with the intervertebral discs, it is useful to heat the painful places

Wrong. Temperature fluctuations, especially extreme ones (for example, a beginner's bath trip), can cause serious aggravation. In complex treatment, moderate thermal procedures are used, but they must be prescribed by a doctor.

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

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

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are essential for treatment

Not really. In the period of remission or when the pain is not severe, conservative therapy (physio-, reflex and manual) is carried out; physical therapy, traction techniques are used. Drug treatment is indicated during an exacerbation and is aimed at alleviating pain, alleviating 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; in case of severe pain, novocaine blockades 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

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

Exercises for "stretching" the spine help to 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. "Poping" can lead to a reflex contraction of the paravertebral muscles and worsen the condition.

Only a traumatologist-orthopedic has the right to treat osteochondrosis

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

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

Osteochondrosis of the spine: causes and treatment

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

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

What is osteochondrosis of the spine

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

Difficulties in definition are also related to the fact that different specialists work with this disease - neurologists, orthopedists, neurosurgeons and general practitioners.

Sometimes a person with a diagnosis of osteochondrosis of the spine turns to a cardiologist, because 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 spinal motion segment (as defined by Popelyansky). What is a spinal motion segment? These are two vertebrae that are located one above the other, and between them is an intervertebral disc.

Thanks to this articulation, the human spine can bend and bend, bend and twist. But as a result of various reasons, the intervertebral discs lose their properties, undergo degeneration, and then gradually the 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 in any part of the spine.

Due to heavy loads, osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine occurs most often. The symptoms are:

  • pain in the lower back, which can be sharp or dull, constant, can increase with movement;
  • pain can be caused by legs, pelvic organs, 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, which is more often associated with a long-term 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, flash of "flies" before the eyes;
  • pain can radiate to the back of the head, shoulders, collarbones;
  • possible violation of sensitivity in the hands.

Less often, osteochondrosis affects the thoracic spine, because the vertebrae are inactively connected to each other. A lesion in this area can masquerade as heart or lung disease. Symptoms of thoracic osteochondrosis of the spine:

  • pain in the back at the level of the shoulder blades, in the chest, which can increase by bending, turning, during inhalation or exhalation;
  • skin sensitivity disorders.

Regardless of the degree of damage, pain in osteochondrosis of the spine can be increased by pressure on those vertebrae involved in the process.

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

Risk factors and causes of disease

The spine has great strength and the development of the disease requires the action of several provoking factors at once. It is important to understand that most, if not all, of these factors can be influenced by the patient and thereby reduce the likelihood of developing the disease.

  • lack of movement - this worsens the blood supply, and thus the nutrition of all elements of the spine;
  • excessive physical activity is also harmful and can damage intervertebral discs;
  • long stay in the wrong, not physiological position - inappropriate height of the work surface or chair leads to the fact that the person is forced to constantly tilt his head, hunched over;
  • stress - excessive tension in the muscles can lead to compression of the vessels that feed the spine;
  • overweight;
  • smoking disrupts microcirculation in all tissues of the body;
  • insufficient water and protein intake 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 wearing process is faster;
  • spine injuries - various complications may develop at the site of the injury, including osteochondrosis;
  • occupational hazards, such as vibration;
  • exposure to infections or chemicals;
  • natural aging of the organism.

People of various professions are at risk of developing osteochondrosis of the spine. They 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 progresses.

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

As a result of osteochondrosis of the spine, various complications occur in some cases. Intervertebral disc problems, herniation and protrusion can lead to narrowing of the spinal canal, compression of the spinal cord and disability.

Depending on the level of the lesion, different problems with nerve root involvement are possible. These are intercostal neuralgia, disorders of sensitivity and motor functions of the upper and lower extremities, disorders in the work 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 spinal vessels. If the blood flow in the vertebral arteries that pass into the cervical region and feed the brain is disturbed, brain disorders, problems with vision or hearing, breathing or heart activity may develop.

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

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

Among the instrumental methods, the following can be used:

  • Ultrasound of blood vessels allows you to identify the degree of circulatory disorders, for example, in the vertebral arteries;
  • X-ray of the spine;
  • CT also uses radiological methods, but it allows you to build a three-dimensional image of the area being studied, to identify even small displacements of the vertebrae;
  • MRI is specialized for the study of soft tissues, allows you to assess the condition of the spinal cord, visualize the internal structure of the intervertebral disc.

Laboratory tests, a general blood and urine test, and indicators of calcium metabolism are used for differential diagnosis.

Osteochondrosis therapy is complex.

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

Treatment of osteochondrosis in classical medicine is in most cases a long-term process and can have negative consequences for people's health.

Thus, numerous drugs, especially analgesics and muscle relaxants (especially with a sedative effect), can cause addiction, and some drugs negatively 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 Heavenly Kingdom differ from the usual, European view of diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

All diseases are considered to be disturbances in 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 action such as acupuncture and acupressure.

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


Synonyms for this method are acupuncture, reflexology. The principle of acupuncture treatment is the placement of needles on bioactive points. Each point is connected to an organ that is hit.

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

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

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


This is a specific way of influencing active points with the help of special wormwood cigars. The principle of action is similar to acupuncture and is often used in combination. The smoldering cigar is placed on the body in a special wooden house, while the active points are heated. Wormwood has a disinfecting, soothing and relaxing effect.

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


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


Traditional Chinese gymnastics, like massage, has several schools. Qigong movements, smooth, stretching and twisting, are excellent as exercises for the spine in 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 performance 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 incredible results. An example of the achievements of Chinese science are the methods of DNA therapy and DNA vaccines - these are the methods currently used to develop cancer treatment and fight against HIV.

Osteochondrosis of the spinal column in the elderly. Characteristics of rehabilitation

People age differently: some have clear minds, are optimistic about life situations and are cheerful. Others, after passing the retirement age, lose interest in life.

  • The rate of aging of the organism depends on many factors, namely:
  • 1) genetic program of development and decay of the organism;
  • 2) the impact on a person of various unfavorable life events.
  • Bad living conditions, harmful working conditions, living in an unfavorable climate, inability to receive full medical and social assistance on time, unhealthy lifestyle (malnutrition, bad habits, long-term emotional stress) have a negative impact on a person. ).
  • When organizing treatment and rehabilitation measures for the elderly, it is necessary to take into account age-related and functional changes in this period of life.
  • With aging, the volume of muscle mass decreases, muscle contractility weakens, and changes occur in all parts of the spinal column.

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

The biggest danger is a violation of blood circulation in the brain, which leads to a general disruption of functions and the creation of numerous foci of necrosis of brain tissues.


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

  • drink enough water;
  • control weight, do not overeat;
  • choose the right shoes, if necessary - orthopedic insoles;
  • choose a good mattress to sleep on, not too soft and which gives sufficient support to the spine;
  • eat foods rich in collagen (fish, turkey, aspic, various jellies);
  • exercise regularly;
  • adjust the height of the work surface and the chair, taking into account growth.

As for alternative methods of prevention, massage, qigong and acupuncture have worked well, for reasons that are quite understandable and described above.

It is important to remember that back pain can and should be managed. 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, then the joint efforts of science and traditional medicine will help restore health and the joy of movement.