Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine: causes, manifestations, treatment

cervical osteochondrosis

Frequent dizziness, tinnitus, flies before the eyes, a feeling of heaviness in the back of the head are caused not only by fatigue. They are often caused by degenerative-dystrophic changes in the spine. Headaches in osteochondrosis of the cervical spine are a typical manifestation of the disease. It is impossible to solve them for a long time without affecting the root cause.

Mechanism of disease development

Degeneration of intervertebral cartilage and bone tissue in the cervical spine causes clinical symptoms already in the early stages. The growth and movement of vertebral fragments inevitably leads to disturbances in blood flow, innervation and malnutrition of brain structures.

The causes of spinal deformity in the neck area are:

  • congenital disorders of bone tissue structure;
  • osteochondrosis of the lumbar or thoracic area.

In almost half of the cases, the pathology is found in middle-aged and younger people, more often in women. Its development is facilitated by long-term incorrect position of the head during sleep, sitting at the table, during telephone conversations and traveling in transport. The progress of osteochondrosis is also accelerated by the habit of sleeping on high pillows. The mobility of this part of the body, the smaller size of the vertebrae compared to other departments, the position of a large number of large vessels and nerve trees, cause the early onset of symptoms. The pain syndrome is the main one.

Fragments of collapsing discs and displaced vertebrae compress the vertebral artery and the plexus of nerves around it. Long-term compression causes a narrowing of the lumen of blood vessels, slows down blood flow and reduces tissue oxygen supply. Malnutrition, hypoxia and subsequent cerebral ischemia are aggravated by compression of nerve trees by osteophytes - radiculopathy.

Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis

In most cases, headaches and other symptoms of pathology are of a secondary or vertebrogenic nature - they are caused by pathological processes not in the brain, but in the adjacent spine.

Reflex cephalgia - dull pain. It occurs when the first three vertebrae are affected. It starts in the upper part of the neck, spreads to the occipital and parietal parts, then covers the temples and forehead. It is more often unilateral, similar to a classic migraine. It lasts from half an hour to several days, is aggravated by leaning or turning the head, active physical actions.

If osteochondrosis affects the fourth and fifth vertebrae, cervicobrachialgia develops. Its danger lies in its similarity to a heart attack. The pain is one-sided, sharp, burning, affects the neck, shoulder and hurts under the shoulder blade, in the hypochondrium, sometimes in the forearm and hand.

Myofascial dysfunction causes the so-called cervical migraine. Pulsating or pressing pain on the side of the neck spreads along one side, covering part of the back of the head, crown, temple and reaches the superciliary arches.

In severe cases, additional symptoms are observed: photophobia, red eyes, nausea, physical weakness.

Osteochondrosis of the cervical region can cause different types of vegetative-vascular dystonia:

  • with frequent headaches;
  • violations of thermoregulation, intracranial pressure, breathing;
  • sudden mood swings.

With significant pinching of the spinal nerves, there is a speech disorder, numbness of the tongue, and loss of sensitivity of the fingers. The person becomes like a drunkard or under the influence of psychotropic drugs: he slurs words, does not respond immediately to addressing himself. In advanced cases, tissue malnutrition and impaired blood supply lead to a permanent increase in intracranial pressure, vision and hearing loss.

Some facts about the disease:

  • Osteochondrosis of the neck occurs equally often in men and women.
  • People aged 30-60 are most often affected.
  • As a rule, the pathology occurs in people who have to constantly be in the same position and perform monotonous movements at work.
  • The cervical spine has some structural characteristics, due to which the disease can have many different manifestations.
characteristics of cervical osteochondrosis

What characteristics of the cervical spine cause symptoms of osteochondrosis?

  • There are openings in the lateral processes of the vertebrae - the carotid arteries that supply the brain with blood pass through them to the right and left.
  • The initial part of the spinal cord passes in the cervical region - it contains fibers that transmit nerve impulses to all parts of the body, provide movement, sensitivity. If there is compression of the spinal cord in the neck, neurological disorders occur throughout the body.
  • This part of the spine has great mobility, and this predisposes to the development of osteochondrosis (although in most cases the disease still develops in the lumbar region - it not only has great mobility, but also experiences the greatest load).
  • In the neck, nerve roots emerge from the intervertebral foramina, forming the cervical and brachial nerve plexuses. They are responsible for movements in the muscles of the neck, arms, shoulder girdle, skin sensitivity, regulation of autonomic functions.
  • The first vertebra does not have a massive front part - the body - it is a bony ring that is placed on the tooth - a bony outgrowth on the second vertebra. This allows the head to turn from side to side.

Pain in the neck, headache, feeling of weakness, numbness in the hands are symptoms for which you should consult a neurologist. Examination by a specialist and examination with the help of modern equipment will help to understand the causes of the pathology and take the most effective measures.

Stages and symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis

The first target of the disease is the intervertebral discs. Each disc consists of a nucleus pulposus enclosed in a dense annulus fibrosus. The nucleus acts as a shock absorber when loading the spine, and the fibrous ring holds the nucleus pulposus inside the spinal column.

In conditions of poor circulation and nutrition, the disc tissues begin to break down. The fibrous ring becomes loose, and the core loses some of its moisture, becomes thinner and partially loses its cushioning properties. As a result of such changes, the ability of the intervertebral disc to carry the load is reduced and it is damaged.

One of the main symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is pain in the neck of a bursting nature, burning, stabbing, similar to "electric discharges". It usually extends to one or both arms.

Some patients complain of pain or constant pain, and in addition to pain, stiffness of movements, dizziness, headache and memory impairment.

signs of cervical osteochondrosis

In many ways, the nature and severity of pain, as well as accompanying symptoms, depend on the stage of osteochondrosis:

  • 1 phase.Changes occur within the intervertebral disc - the nucleus pulposus moves and begins to irritate the nerve endings. But pain in the initial stage usually occurs only during physical exertion, movement, coughing and sneezing, and at rest a person may not feel any discomfort.
  • 2 stages.The annulus fibrosus loses its ability to hold the nucleus pulposus, the distance between the vertebrae decreases and they move relative to each other. As a result of such changes, pinching of nerve endings is possible, which causes severe pain. Pain, in turn, forces a person to assume a forced position.
  • 3 stages.The fibrous ring is destroyed and an intervertebral hernia occurs. At this stage, the cervical spine is often deformed - its natural curvature is reduced. A herniated disc compresses or irritates nerve roots, causing intense and constant pain in the neck and arms, often accompanied by numbness and muscle weakness.
  • 4 stages.The fibrous ring becomes dense, and adhesions form between the vertebrae. As a result, there is immobility in the affected area, while the pain may even decrease.


With complaints of poor health in osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, you should consult a neurologist. During the examination, the doctor determines the origin of the pain. For this purpose, it uses the following methods:

  • he presses his fingers on the area of the neck vertebrae in those places where the nerve roots protrude: the appearance of pain indicates cephalgia;
  • pressing on the points near the bony protrusions under the lower edges of the ears: an attack of pain after that clearly signals the development of a cervical migraine as a result of mechanical compression.

For the accurate diagnosis of cervical osteochondrosis, a number of instrumental studies are prescribed. Radiography, magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography remain leading. With their help, pathological changes that have occurred in the structure of bones, cartilage and soft tissues are visualized.

Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis

Medicines are designed to eliminate symptoms, restore normal blood circulation, biomechanics of the entire cervical region.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics, muscle relaxants and antispasmodics are used to relieve pain.

Vasodilators - vasodilators help reduce vegetative manifestations, improve venous outflow and prevent edema in the affected area.

Means containing B vitamins and magnesium help improve the nutrition of nerve tissue cells and reduce harmful symptoms.

At the same time, patients are recommended drugs to regulate blood pressure and correct heart rhythm.

Many patients are shown tranquilizers, antidepressants, sedatives.

Depending on the severity of the condition, the course of treatment is short or long. Painkillers are used once or over several days. Means that normalize blood flow and vitamins - courses of 2-3 months.

Physiotherapy is prescribed to maintain the effect of drugs:

  • massage of the neck area;
  • acupuncture and reflexology.

In case of exacerbations, it is indicated to wear therapeutic bandages that support the cervical muscles.

In the absence of exacerbation of osteochondrosis, therapeutic exercises help to stop and prevent the symptoms of VVD. Gymnastics helps strengthen the neck muscles, relieves spasms, improves the elasticity of blood vessels and the ligamentous apparatus of the vertebral joints. Training includes movements for stretching soft tissues: deep tilts of the head, turns, rotations.

Patients with osteochondrosis, complicated by VVD, should carefully organize a place to sleep. You must rest only on an orthopedic mattress and pillow, do not drink a lot of fluids at night to avoid swelling. It is necessary to avoid work and hobbies associated with an unfavorable position of the cervical vertebrae: leaning back or low head tilt.

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Vertigo with cervical osteochondrosis

Vertigo with cervical chondrosis is a common occurrence in both sexes, starting at the age of 30 and over. The specificity of the lifestyle and some abuses lead to the development of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine in adulthood in almost every other inhabitant of our country. There are patients who have problems already in adolescence.

It is impossible to underestimate the danger of this pathology: it worsens a person's well-being, contributes to the development of dangerous conditions. Symptoms are various unpleasant sensations.

Causes of vertigo in cervical osteochondrosis

In the article, we will consider whether it is possible to be dizzy and sick for a long time with cervical osteochondrosis, why this happens, why the condition worsens and what to do, how to get rid of the discomfort forever.

Due to a not very healthy lifestyle and regular overloading of the neck area, the condition of the spine in this area gradually changes.

Degenerative changes develop in the intervertebral discs, the holes through which the spinal nerves and vessels that feed the brain gradually narrow.

degenerative changes on the vertebrae

The situation is extremely unpleasant and dangerous. The patient feels pain during sudden movements, in certain positions of the head and neck. The brain receives less oxygen than it needs, which causes the development of regular bouts of dizziness.

The main reasons why a person with osteochondrosis may feel dizzy:

  1. Compression of the vertebral artery by bony growths. Osteophytes pinch the vessel that feeds the cerebellum and the basal parts of the brain. Its permeability decreases, the amount of blood and oxygen passing through it decreases. In medicine, this phenomenon is called vertebral artery syndrome.
  2. Irritation of Frank's nerve. Nerve fibers of the sympathetic system wrap around the vertebral artery, they feel any influence on it. In response to irritation, the nerve causes spasm of the vessel, impairing its patency. Hernias, formed osteophytes or instability of the cervical vertebrae can cause discomfort.
  3. Subluxation of the upper articular process of the lower vertebra or the formation of a disc herniation in the neck area.
vertebral hernia in the neck

In the case of dizziness and nausea due to osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, as well as the manifestation of other symptoms, such as weakness in women, drug treatment is necessary, but what to drink, which tablets will help, only the doctor will decide after the examination. detailed study of the patient's condition. After all, the causes of dizziness are very diverse.

Depending on the specific cause of the development of the pathological condition and negative symptoms, different means and techniques are used.

You must understand that dizziness, if the attacks intensify and become more frequent, is a really dangerous condition. A person not only endangers his life by driving or crossing the road, but also provokes the risk of developing encephalopathy due to the regular lack of blood and nutrition for neurons.

Additional symptoms

Before you decide what will help with the onset of vertigo in cervical osteochondrosis, what exercises will stop unpleasant attacks, you should not read the reviews of strangers, but evaluate the accompanying symptoms that occur during the development of the disease.

An experienced doctor, according to such signs, suggests the degree of development of chondrosis. It is also able to assess the danger of the condition, compiling a diagnostic algorithm. And then - choose an effective and safe treatment.

Symptoms that accompany a decrease in the patency of the cervical artery and signal the need for urgent consultation with a doctor:

  1. Occasional tinnitus, possibly pulsating. Then it gradually spreads to the whole head. As a rule, the attack occurs after being in an uncomfortable position, physical effort or against the background of severe fatigue.
  2. Cracking, pain when moving the neck.
  3. neck pain
  4. Darkness in the eyes, short fainting spells when the head is thrown back. In advanced cases, even a sharp turn causes such a reaction.
  5. Nausea, up to vomiting, followed by attacks of vertigo.

Can the head spin not from cervical chondrosis, why it developed and what to do, only a neurologist will tell you after the examination. The earlier the diagnosis is made and the treatment started, the more effective the measures taken will be.

If you seek help early, there is a chance to avoid drug therapy and get rid of the problem. By delaying going to the doctor, there is a risk of provoking the development of a more dangerous condition.


How to treat osteochondrosis of the cervical spine with dizziness, what to do if there is a violation of movement coordination and what is prescribed in such cases, you can understand after a complete diagnosis, because each case is unique.

Before deciding on a therapeutic regimen, it is extremely important for the doctor to find out what influenced the development of the disease. It is necessary to clarify how quickly it deteriorates and what are the characteristics of its course. Due to these characteristics, when it comes to complaints of regular dizziness, a thorough diagnosis is carried out.

The neurologist performs an initial examination, during which:

examination by a neurologist
  • determines the range of symptoms accompanying the course of the disease;
  • according to the results of the physical examination, he finds characteristics of changes in the cervical region;
  • collects anamnesis, history of disease development;
  • asks about the characteristics of the patient's life in order to identify risk factors that influence the development of the disease.

After that, instrumental examinations will be scheduled:

  • MRI of the brain and neck to determine if changes have already occurred and how extensive they are;
  • An ultrasound of the vessels that pass through the neck will show how much the blood flow and nutrition of the brain is reduced;
  • CT of the cervical spine reveals formed deviations from the norm of bone structures;
  • electromyography will allow you to register the electrical activity of the muscles of the area being evaluated;

The correct answer to the question of what to do if your head is spinning from your neck and it hurts is to go to the doctor. The clinic will precisely determine the causes of the bad condition and choose the appropriate therapy.


After determining the specific stage of the disease, the doctor prescribes individual therapy. After all, you can encounter such a phenomenon as neuralgia of the occipital nerve and you need to treat it in your own way.

Preference is given to a complex treatment that includes:

  • taking drugs (chondroprotectors, anti-inflammatory drugs, etc. );
  • physiotherapy techniques;
  • various massage techniques;
  • specialized complexes of physiotherapy exercises, therapy exercises;
  • following a healthy diet.
massage for osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

When you feel dizziness with osteochondrosis of the cervical region, treatment can be carried out with both conservative methods and surgical intervention.

Operations are performed in situations where the spinal column is too narrow or persistent hernias have occurred.

Effective methods of treatment in the early stages are massage and special sets of exercises. Compliance with the doctor's recommendations in the pre-clinical phase of the disease development enables a complete cure.

The results show physiotherapy methods that allow the removal of painful symptoms in a few sessions:

physiotherapy of cervical osteochondrosis
  • classic manual therapy;
  • shock-wave methods of influencing the body;
  • hydromassage;
  • laser therapy.

Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis, when the head is already spinning regularly, is an urgent step.

This dangerous symptom is an indicator of the development of really dangerous pathologies that can further worsen the comfort of human life. And even shorten its duration.


With regular preventive action, it is possible to prevent the appearance of unpleasant symptoms or significantly reduce their severity. Many people think about whether it can be effective to use pain-free means for vertigo due to cervical osteochondrosis, how to get rid of it, quickly alleviate the attack, than to treat the condition at home?

Prevention through lifestyle

Here are the measures suitable for preventing the progression of the disease:

  • Reduced time spent in a bent position. For example, behind a computer, devices or work that requires tension in the neck and head tilted forward. Provide an ergonomic workplace.
  • Organization of a frugal regime of alternating work and rest.
  • ergonomic chair for osteochondrosis
  • Rejection of habits, destructive addictions. It is necessary to reduce the consumption of alcohol and the number of cigarettes smoked.
  • Setting up a place to sleep. Get an orthopedic pillow and mattress that takes into account the structural characteristics of your spine.
  • Increase time for physical activity in your daily schedule, avoid physical inactivity.
  • Regularly perform a special warm-up during the working day. Ideally, you should set aside 5 minutes every hour for exercise.
  • Avoid traumatic activities, extreme sports and excessive physical exertion.
  • Watch your weight. When obesity appears, try to lose excess weight as soon as possible.
  • Regularly attend specialized massage courses, learn safe self-massage techniques.
  • wearing comfortable backpacks for the prevention of osteochondrosis
  • Use comfortable backpacks to carry things, avoid bags that cause you to mow when walking. Use head restraints when traveling while seated.
  • In case of injury, seek help immediately. Start following medical recommendations from the first days.

It is impossible to ignore situations when, against the background of preventive measures, the neck and back of the head hurt. This is the first symptom of the disease and requires treatment.

Power protection

It is useful to follow a special diet that will support medically induced recovery processes in the neck and cervical spine.

Key principles of nutrition in the presence of such a problem or predisposition to it:

  • the use of gelling food in food, which contributes to the restoration of cartilage in the body;
  • maintaining a balance between protein and carbohydrate foods, a sufficient amount of lean meat and fish in the diet;
  • limiting excessive consumption of salt and spices;
  • reducing the consumption of acidic, smoked products;
  • reduction in the diet of sweets, including rich products;
  • limiting caffeinated beverages;
  • increasing the share of fresh vegetables and fruits in the daily menu;
  • refusal of fatty and fried food, fast food.

Exercise therapy should occupy an important place in the life of a person with a similar disease. They are especially relevant for the elderly or those who lead a sedentary lifestyle. At the same time, a special set of exercises must be repeated daily in order to achieve the expected result.

Exercise therapy for cervical osteochondrosis

Despite the diversity of traditional medicine, with vertigo due to cervical osteochondrosis, what to do, what to drink, how to deal with attacks, how to cure the deviation or eliminate a certain symptom, whether this or that drug really helps and whether it causes additional damage, should be decided by a professional doctor. An online consultation with a neurologist can help here.

Do not blindly follow the advice of friends and try to eliminate the disease without referring to the recommendations of a qualified doctor.

In advanced cases, osteochondrosis can not only reduce the quality of life, but also deprive a person of working ability. Therefore, try to spot the factors that can lead to the destruction of the intervertebral discs in time, and if possible eliminate or reduce their harmful effects on the spine. If you are concerned about neck pain, be sure to see your doctor. Only a specialist can determine the stage of the disease, choose painkillers and prescribe a course of physiotherapy exercises or physiotherapy.