Osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae: causes, manifestations, treatment

cervical osteochondrosis

Frequent dizziness, ringing in the ears, flies before the eyes, a feeling of heaviness in the back of the head are caused not only by fatigue. Often they are provoked by degenerative-dystrophic changes in the spine. Headache in osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae is a typical manifestation of the disease. It is impossible to get rid of them for a long time without affecting the root cause.

The 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 displacement of the spinal fragments inevitably leads to impaired blood flow, innervation and malnutrition of the brain structures.

The causes of spinal deformity in the neck area are:

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

In almost half of the cases, the pathology is found in people of middle and young age, more often in women. Its development is facilitated by long-term incorrect position of the head during sleep, sitting at a desk, during telephone conversations and traveling in transport. The development 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 location of a large number of large vessels and nerve trunks cause the early appearance of symptoms. Pain syndrome is the main one.

Fragments of collapsing discs and altered vertebrae compress the vertebral artery and the plexus of nerves around it. Prolonged compression provokes a narrowing of the lumen of the vessels, slowing down the blood flow and reducing the supply of oxygen to the tissues. Malnutrition, hypoxia and subsequent cerebral ischemia are aggravated by compression of nerve trunks by osteophytes - radiculopathy.

Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis

In most cases, headaches and other symptoms of pathology are secondary or vertebrogenic in 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 at the top of the neck, spreads to the occiput and crown, then covers the temples and forehead. It is more often unilateral, resembling a classic migraine. Lasts from half an hour to several days, worsens by tilting or turning the head, active physical actions.

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

Myofascial dysfunction causes the so-called cervical migraine. A throbbing or pressing pain in the side of the neck spreads on one side, covering part of the back of the head, the crown, the temple, and reaches the browbones.

In severe cases, additional symptoms are observed: photophobia, redness of the eyes, nausea, physical weakness.

Osteochondrosis of the cervical region can provoke various types of vegetative-vascular dystonia:

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

With a significant pinching of the spinal nerves, speech disorders, numbness of the tongue, loss of sensitivity of the fingers appear. A person becomes as if drunk or under the influence of psychotropic drugs: he pronounces words indistinctly, does not immediately respond to addressing himself. In advanced cases, tissue malnutrition and impaired blood supply lead to a constant increase in intracranial pressure, reduced vision and hearing.

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, during work, must constantly be in the same position and perform monotonous movements.
  • The cervical spine has some structural features, due to which the disease can have many different manifestations.
Features of cervical osteochondrosis

What characteristics of the cervical spine cause the symptoms of osteochondrosis?

  • There are openings in the lateral outgrowths of the vertebrae - carotid arteries pass through them on the right and on the left, which supply blood to the brain.
  • In the cervical region, the initial part of the spinal cord passes - it contains fibers that carry nerve impulses to all parts of the body, provide movement, sensitivity. If there is compression of the spinal cord in the neck area, neurological disorders occur throughout the body.
  • This section of the spine has great mobility, and this predisposes to the appearance of osteochondrosis (although in most cases the disease still develops in the lumbar region - it not only has high 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 vegetative functions.
  • The first vertebra does not have a massive front part - the body - this is a bony ring that is placed on the tooth - a bony outgrowth of the second vertebra. This allows the head to rotate sideways.

Neck pain, headache, feeling of weakness, numbness of the hands are symptoms that should prompt you to consult a neurologist. Examination by a specialist and examination using 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 the spine is loaded, and the annulus fibrosus supports the nucleus pulposus in the spine.

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

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

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

signs of cervical osteochondrosis

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

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


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

  • he presses with his fingers the region of the cervical vertebrae in the places where the nerve roots protrude: the resulting pain reaction indicates cephalgia;
  • presses the points near the bony prominences under the lower edges of the ears: an attack of pain then clearly signals the development of a cervical migraine as a result of mechanical compression.

For an accurate diagnosis of cervical osteochondrosis, a number of instrumental studies are prescribed. X-rays, magnetic resonance and computer tomography remain leading. With their help, the pathological changes that have occurred in the structure of bones, cartilages 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.

NSAIDs, 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 vitamins of group B and magnesium help to improve the nutrition of nerve tissue cells and reduce unwanted symptoms.

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

Many patients are prescribed tranquilizers, antidepressants, sedatives.

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

Physiotherapy is prescribed to maintain the effect of the drugs:

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

In case of exacerbations, the wearing of therapeutic dressings supporting the cervical muscles is indicated.

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 ligament apparatus of the spinal joints. Training includes movements to stretch the soft tissues: deep tilts of the head, turns, rotations.

Patients with osteochondrosis complicated by VVD should carefully organize a place to sleep. You should rest only on an orthopedic mattress and a pillow, do not drink a lot of liquid 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 tilt of the head.

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Vertigo with cervical osteochondrosis

Dizziness with cervical chondrosis is a common phenomenon in both sexes, starting at the age of 30 and older. The specifics of the lifestyle and some abuses lead to the development of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine in adulthood in almost every second resident of our country. There are patients who have problems even 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. The symptoms of which 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 openings through which the spinal nerves and vessels supplying the brain gradually narrow.

degenerative changes in the vertebrae

The condition is extremely unpleasant and dangerous. The patient experiences pain during sudden movements, in certain positions of the head and neck. The brain receives less oxygen than it needs, which provokes the development of regular attacks of vertigo.

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 supplies the cerebellum and the basal parts of the brain. Its permeability decreases, reducing the amount of blood and oxygen passing through it. In medicine, this phenomenon is called vertebral artery syndrome.
  2. Getting on Frank's nerves. Nerve fibers of the sympathetic system surround the vertebral artery, feel any impact on it. In response to irritation, the nerve causes spasm of the vessel, disrupting its patency. Hernias, formed osteophytes or instability of the cervical vertebrae can cause discomfort.
  3. Subluxation of the superior articular process of the underlying vertebra or disc herniation in the neck area.
vertebral hernia in the neck area

With 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 take, which pills will help, only the doctor will decide after a thorough study of the patient's condition. After all, the causes of vertigo are very diverse.

Depending on the specific reason for 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 puts his life at risk by driving or crossing the road, but also provokes the risk of developing encephalopathy due to a regular lack of blood and nutrition for neurons.

Additional symptoms

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

An experienced doctor, according to such signs, assumes the degree of development of chondrosis. It is also able to assess the danger of the condition, compiling a diagnostic algorithm. And then - to 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. Intermittent tinnitus, possibly pulsating. Then it gradually spreads over the entire head. As a rule, the attack occurs after staying in an uncomfortable position, physical exertion or against the background of severe fatigue.
  2. Cracking, pain when moving the neck.
  3. neck pain
  4. Darkness in the eyes, short fits when the head is thrown back. In advanced cases, even a sharp turn provokes such a reaction.
  5. Nausea, up to vomiting, accompanied by bouts of vertigo.

Can the head rotate 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 in time, there is a chance to avoid drug therapy and get rid of the problem that has arisen. By postponing a trip to the doctor, there is a risk of provoking the development of a more dangerous condition.


How to treat osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae with dizziness, what to do if a movement coordination disorder develops and what is prescribed in such cases, you can find out after a complete diagnosis, since each case is unique.

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

The neurologist conducts an initial examination during which:

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

Instrumental reviews will then be assigned:

  • MRI of the brain and neck to determine if changes have already occurred and how large they are;
  • Ultrasound of the vessels passing through the neck will show how much the permeability of 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 record the electrical activity of the muscles in the area being evaluated;

The correct answer to the question of what to do if your head spins from your neck and hurts is to go to a doctor. The clinic will accurately 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. In the end, 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 complex treatment, which includes:

  • taking medications (chondroprotectors, anti-inflammatory agents, etc. );
  • physiotherapy techniques;
  • different massage techniques;
  • specialized complexes of physiotherapeutic exercises, training therapy;
  • following a healthy diet.
massage for osteochondrosis of the cervical vertebrae

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

Operations are performed in situations where the spine is too narrow or persistent hernias have formed.

Effective methods of treatment in the early stages are massage and special complexes of exercises. Compliance with the doctor's recommendations at the pre-clinical stage of the development of the disease allows for its complete cure.

The results show physiotherapy methods that allow you to get rid of painful symptoms in a few sessions:

physiotherapy for cervical osteochondrosis
  • classical manual therapy;
  • shock wave methods of impact on the body;
  • hydromassage;
  • laser therapy.

Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis, when the head is already regularly dizzy, 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.


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

Prevention through lifestyle

We list the measures suitable to prevent the progression of the disease:

  • Reduced time spent in a crouched position. For example, on a computer, gadgets or work that requires tension in the neck and a forward tilted head position. Provide an ergonomic workplace.
  • Organization of a gentle regime of alternation of 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 features of your spine.
  • Increase physical activity time in your daily schedule, avoid lack of physical activity.
  • 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.
  • Monitor your body weight. When obesity appears, try to lose extra pounds 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 distortion when walking. Use head restraints when traveling 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 the medically induced recovery processes in the area of the neck and cervical vertebrae.

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

  • the use of gelling foods in food, which contribute 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 the excessive consumption of salt and spices;
  • reducing the consumption of pickled, smoked products;
  • reducing 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 foods, fast food.

An important place in the life of a person with such a disease should be occupied by exercise therapy. They are especially relevant for the elderly or those leading a sedentary lifestyle. At the same time, a special set of exercises should be repeated every day to achieve the expected result.

exercise therapy for cervical osteochondrosis

Despite the variety of traditional medicine, with dizziness due to cervical osteochondrosis, what to do, what to drink, how to cope with attacks, how to cure a deviation or eliminate a specific symptom, does this or that medicine really help and do they cause additional harm, 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 attracting the recommendations of a qualified doctor.

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