Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis, or how to recognize the disease?

symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis

Already in adolescence, a person has early symptoms of cartilage disease - osteochondrosis.

Often, the first to suffer is the cervical region of the spine, which can cause intervertebral hernias, as well as serious sensation and movement disorders.

Therefore, it is necessary not only to know the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis in the spine, but also to be able to diagnose it in a timely manner.

Stages of cervical osteochondrosis

The disease begins to develop - after 25 years - when metabolism in cartilage declines due to hormonal changes in the body. In this case, the blood supply to the intervertebral disc naturally stops.

These changes in the spinal space correspond to the early stages of the disease, when there are no manifestations of cervical osteochondrosis. However, a combination of additional factors (heredity, stress, early trauma, etc. ) stimulates the progression of the disease.

The next stage in the development of this disease is the stretching of the intervertebral disc membrane - the fibrous cover. Due to the loss of moisture, the disc deforms and "protrudes", which is called protrusion in medicine. At this stage, the first signs appear - a sharp pain in the neck, caused by disc pressure on the nerves.

The onset of the third stage of the disease is evidenced by the rupture of the intervertebral disc membrane (fibrous circle) and the appearance of an intervertebral hernia, which compresses ducts and nerve fibers. At the same time, sensory disturbances and movements of the upper limbs, as well as the collar zone, are combined with pain.

The transition to the fourth stage of the development of the disease is the complete destruction of the intervertebral disc, when the blood supply is not only to the individual nerve fibers, but also to the entire spinal cord. Changes at this stage are irreversible, so they require surgical treatment.

Common symptoms of this disease

Osteochondrosis can be diagnosed in one (or several) parts of the spine. At the same time, osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is considered very dangerous, because in this part of the spine there are great channels and nerve roots, which supply blood and breathe not only in the hands, but also the brain.

Thus, the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis are divided into three major groups:

  1. Arterial compression:Usually we talk about the vertebral arteries, which are located in the process of cervical vertebrae and supply the brain;
  2. A pinched nerve root:is ​​indicated by movement and sensation disorders in the hand, as well as in the parietal area of ​​the skull and the back of the head;
  3. Spinal cord compression:stage IV variants of the disease, associated with severe neurological disorders (paralysis, lack of superficial sensations, etc. ).

The manifestations described are general. However, there are many personal symptoms that allow you to detect the disease at an early stage.


The first manifestation of cervical osteochondrosis is a local pain syndrome - cervix. This is usually a pain in the neck that sometimes spreads to the arms or back of the head. Pain occurs after incorrect posture (long trips on the go, sleep) or physical activity. Usually they move on their own.

After a sharp rotation or tilt of the head, lumbar pain may occur in the collar zone (instead of the cervix). Often it is accompanied by muscle tension, as a result of which head movement becomes impossible (up to 10 days after the onset of cervix).

Over time, adjustments to pain occur. But in the second stage, the pain usually increases, which indicates further transfer and destruction of the intervertebral disc.

When the "protrusion" of the intervertebral disc reaches the nerve fibers, radicular syndrome appears (aka "radiculitis"). It is usually accompanied by pain in one side that extends to the arm (as well as sensation and movement disorders). In this case, reflex muscle tension is observed - head tilt is not possible.

Other types of pain syndrome are:

  • depressing headaches, which often mimic migraines, but are not relieved with the usual pain relievers. Usually it "deviates" to the back of the head, the parietal and temporal areas, sometimes to the eyeballs. In this case, it can be one or two sides;
  • "Heart" pain (or cardialgia) is very rare. Manifested by chest pain, which may resemble an attack of angina pectoris.

Be careful!If the cause of chest pain is osteochondrosis, then in this case, the "heart" medicine will not help! If this pill brings short-term relief, while there is a real fear of death, you should suspect myocardial infarction and go to the hospital immediately.

Sensory disturbances in the cervical spine

Loss, decrease or increase in sensitivity are major symptoms of cervical spine osteochondrosis. Thus, sensory disturbances are often observed in the back of the head, as well as around the shoulder or arm joints.

In the latter case, this manifestation is accompanied by edema or other trophic pathology (boils etc. ).

Movement Disorders

If the intervertebral hernia compresses the motor nerve fibers, the patient may feel muscle weakness with limited range of motion - paresis. Extreme levels of movement disorders are paralysis - complete lack of movement, as well as decreased muscle tone (up to their atrophy) and loss of reflexes. Such symptoms at an early stage can be temporary.

Other symptoms

The manifestations described above are classic symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis.

However, there are other signs of illness (important! ).

  • Head rotation. Often accompanied by osteochondrosis. Dizziness is associated with defects in the transmission of blood to the inner ear - a pair of equilibrium organs located in the temporal bone. Irregular posture or periodic exacerbations of osteochondrosis cause dizziness, which is sometimes accompanied by nystagmus - rapid fluctuations in pupils. The balance of human organs is supplied with blood through one artery - the vertebral artery. It passes through the cervical vertebrae, and can therefore be “compressed” in diseases of the spinal space (with osteochondrosis, fractures).
  • Ringing tinnitus. Drying tinnitus or congestion in the ear is another option to interfere with the "transmission" of blood to the inner ear. These symptoms appear after a long stay in the wrong position, and then disappear. This is the last symptom that distinguishes similar symptoms in osteochondrosis from similar symptoms in other diseases.
  • Nausea. These are symptom-free, but are sometimes accompanied by vomiting or vomiting. The latter is provoked by tilting and turning the head, sometimes even walking. Because this condition is similar to dizziness - a reduction in the delivery of arterial blood to the balance organs. However, prolonged vomiting can lead to serious complications - dehydration and loss of salt by the body, which can lead to alkalosis (alkalization of the blood). This condition requires the administration of an appropriate saline solution intravenously.
  • Respiratory Disorders. Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis may be difficult to breathe when breathing becomes shallow (you cannot "breathe with the chest" completely). This causes a higher state of compression or ovulation in the phrenic nerve (it activates the diaphragm, the muscle responsible for respiratory movement). In such situations, the patient feels shortness of breath or shortness of breath. However, more often frenic nerve stimulation is indicated by prolonged hiccups.
  • Attacks at night. Shortness of breath during sleep with unsuccessful posture can also occur in osteochondrosis of the cervical area. But more often the disease is manifested by snoring and morning fatigue due to lack of oxygen-containing blood during night sleep. Such a lack of oxygen can lead to brain disorders - loss of attention and loss of memory.
  • Sore throat. It is considered one of the most common symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis. It manifests itself as a dry throat, a "foreign body" sensation, the possibility of itching or difficulty in the throat. The reason is to pinch the nerve and vascular bundles that extend from the spinal space to the neck organs. We must also not forget that similar symptoms indicate other pathologies (tumors or respiratory diseases). In this case, the presence of osteochondrosis does not exclude tumor processes or inflammation.
  • what are the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis
  • Visual Disorders. The visual organs are supplied with blood by the vertebral and carotid arteries. Therefore, vision changes with these pathologies are less common, but they are characteristic of people with atherosclerotic vascular plaque or hypotension (low blood pressure). Among the manifestations may be: "fog" or lightning "flies" in front of the eyes, decreased visual acuity or disturbance of residence (focus). At the same time, the symptoms of the disease are unstable and can not be improved with optics (glasses, contact lenses) or visual gymnastics.
  • Unstable pressure. When the vertebral arteries are compressed, the blood supply to the vasomotor center may be disrupted, as a result of insufficient increase and decrease in pressure will be observed. The latter may be accompanied by a state of syncope - fainting.
  • Syncope. Fainting is often observed in the elderly who have atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries. Typically, reflex vasospasm (due to too much nerve endings stimulated by hernial protrusion or bone processes) causes a sharp decrease in the amount of blood flowing to the brain. As a result, the brain senses hypoxia - a lack of oxygen - which causes loss of consciousness. Be careful! In such a situation, help with fainting is due to the fact that a person is placed on a flat surface and his legs are lifted. Blood from the veins of the lower body flows in large amounts to the heart and then to the brain, renewing the necessary blood flow. To bring a person "conscious" is to use a substance with a painful odor, for example, ammonia. Sometimes people experience speech and / or movement problems after a syncope, but these symptoms are usually temporary due to short-term fainting. If the fainting lasts longer than a few minutes, and after that the headache is worrying, while this violation does not go away after a few hours, you should suspect a stroke and go to the hospital immediately.
  • Temperature rise. This is a very rare symptom of cervical osteochondrosis. It occurs when blood flow is disrupted in the hypothalamus (the thermoregulation center of the brain). Then not only an increase, but also a decrease in body temperature is possible. However, the most common local phenomenon is observed - hyperemia (redness and warming) in the collar zone. Remember, the presence of osteochondrosis does not exclude a rise in temperature due to inflammation or swelling!
  • Static Violations. These are the curvature of the posture, the "alignment" of the cervical bends of the spine, as well as the subluxation of the spinal column joints. Such changes lead to a redistribution of load, as a result of which some parts of the spine (e. g. , lumbar) become excessive. This can lead to the development of concomitant osteochondrosis in other parts of the spinal space.
  • Spinal cord blow. As mentioned above, stage IV cervical osteochondrosis can cause spinal stroke (damage to the spinal cord). Pathologies like these are very rare, but are distinguished by their dangers: there is usually tetraplegia (complete immobilization of the arms and legs), absence of pain and temperature sensitivity in all limbs, sometimes eye contact, drooping eyelids, narrowing of the pupils, impaired sensitivity to the face, etc. In such cases, immediate surgical intervention is indicated.

Disease prevention

To prevent the development and complications of the disease you need:

  • immediately treats spinal injuries (bruises and dislocations);
  • correct posture disorders (kyphosis, lordosis, scoliosis), spinal segment instability, ligament apparatus;
  • to correct orthopedic problems (soles, flat feet), and also prefer orthopedic shoes, with comfortable heels or special soles;
  • to reduce excess weight to normal;
  • balance nutrition by increasing the levels of micronutrients, fluids, and foods that contain collagen (jelly and broth on the bones);
  • not to lead an inactive lifestyle, while limiting strenuous physical activity;
  • undergo annual preventive checks (especially for those working in industries where there is an increased level of vibration from machine tools, equipment or moving machines);
  • athletes, bodybuilders, etc. do not stop training abruptly.

The elderly need to control comorbidities (atherosclerosis and arterial hypertension). At the same time, it is important to exclude bad habits (alcohol and tobacco smoking), as well as avoid stressful situations that cause nervous tension.

Keep in mind that osteochondrosis is a progressive disease that does not go away on its own. Many patients are driven by remission (a weak period of illness), which causes them to return to their old way of life and stop treatment. And this in turn worsens the outcome of the disease. Therefore, if you notice symptoms of cervical spine osteochondrosis, see a neurologist immediately! However, there is no better treatment than timely therapy!