Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis or how to recognize the disease?

symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis

Already in youth, a person presents the initial symptoms of cartilage disease - osteochondrosis.

Often, the first to suffer is the cervical region of the spine, which can cause intervertebral hernia, as well as severe disorders of sensitivity and movement.

So the need arises not only to know the symptoms of cervical spine osteochondrosis, but also to be able to diagnose them in time.

Stages of cervical osteochondrosis

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

These changes in the spine correspond to the initial stage of the disease, when there are still 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 the disease is the stretching of the intervertebral disc membrane - the fibrous covering. Due to the loss of moisture, the disc changes shape and "swells", which in medicine is called protrusion. At this stage, the first signs appear - acute burning pains in the neck, which are caused by the pressure of the disc on the nerves.

The onset of the third stage of the disease is evidenced by the rupture of the membrane of the intervertebral disc (fibrous circle) and the appearance of an intervertebral hernia, which compresses the vessels and nerve fibers. At the same time, sensitivity and movement disorders of the upper limbs, as well as the collar area, add to the pain.

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

General symptoms of the disease

Osteochondrosis can be diagnosed in one (or several) parts of the spine. At the same time, osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is considered especially dangerous, since in this part of the spine are the large vessels and nerve roots, which supply blood and supply not only the hands, but also the brain.

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

  1. Compression of the arteries:We are usually talking about the vertebral arteries, which are located in the processes of the cervical vertebrae and irrigate the brain;
  2. Compressed nerve roots:is ​​manifested by impaired movements and sensations in the hands, as well as in the parietal region of the skull and in the back of the head;
  3. Spinal cord compression:a variant of stage IV of the disease, associated with severe neurological disorders (paralysis, lack of superficial sensations, etc. ).

The manifestations described are general. However, there are many particular symptoms that allow you to detect the disease in the early stages.


The first manifestation of cervical osteochondrosis is a local pain syndrome - neck pain. It is usually a severe pain in the neck that sometimes spreads to the arm or the back of the head. The pain occurs after incorrect postures (long trips on transport, sleep) or physical activity. Usually, they pass on their own.

After sudden turns or inclinations of the head, low back pain may occur in the collar area (otherwise, cervicago). It is often accompanied by muscle tension, as a result of which head movements become impossible (up to 10 days after the start of the cervicago).

Over time, adaptation to pain occurs. But, in the second stage, the pain usually intensifies, which indicates greater displacement and destruction of the intervertebral disc.

When the "protrusion" of the intervertebral disc reaches the nerve fibers, the root syndrome (also known as "radiculitis") appears. Usually accompanied by unilateral pain that extends to the arm (as well as sensation and movement disorders). In this case, reflex muscle tension is observed - head tilting is impossible.

Other variants of the pain syndrome are:

  • severe headache, which often simulates a migraine, but is not relieved with the usual pain relievers. It usually "diverges" to the back of the head, parietal and temporal regions, sometimes to the eyeball. In this case, it can be unilateral or bilateral;
  • "Cardiac" pain (or cardialgia) is extremely rare. It manifests itself in chest pain, which can resemble an attack of angina pectoris.

Be careful!If the cause of chest pain is osteochondrosis, in this condition, the "heart" drugs will not help! If these pills provide short-term relief, although there is a tangible fear of death, you should suspect a myocardial infarction and go to the hospital urgently.

Sensory disturbances in the cervical spine

Loss, decrease or increase in sensitivity are the main symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine. Therefore, sensory disturbances are often seen on the back of the head, as well as around the shoulder or hand joint.

In the latter case, these manifestations are accompanied by edema or other trophic pathologies (ulcers and others).

Movement disorders

If the intervertebral hernia compresses the motor nerve fibers, the patient may experience muscle weakness with limited range of motion - paresis. The extreme degree of movement disorders is paralysis - a complete lack of movement, as well as a reduction in muscle tone (even its atrophy) and the disappearance of reflexes. In the early stages, these symptoms can be temporary.

Other symptoms

The manifestations described above are the classic symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis.

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

  • Rotate your head. It is often accompanied by osteochondrosis. Dizziness is associated with a defect in the distribution of blood to the inner ear, an even balance organ located in the temporal bone. Irregular postures or periodic exacerbations of osteochondrosis cause dizziness, sometimes accompanied by nystagmus - rapid fluctuations in the pupils. The human organ of balance is supplied with blood through an artery - the vertebral artery. It passes through the cervical vertebrae and therefore can be "squeezed" in diseases of the spine (with osteochondrosis, fractures).
  • Ringing buzz. Tinnitus or ringing in the ears is another option to impair the "distribution" of blood to the inner ear. This symptom appears after a long stay in the wrong position and then disappears. It is the last symptom that distinguishes a similar symptom in osteochondrosis from similar symptoms in other diseases.
  • Nausea. It is an independent symptom, but is sometimes accompanied by vomiting or vomiting. The latter is caused by tilting and rotating the head, sometimes even walking. The reason for this condition is the same as for dizziness - reduced delivery of arterial blood to the organ of balance. However, prolonged vomiting can have serious complications - dehydration and loss of salts throughout the body, which can lead to alkalosis (blood alkalization). This condition requires intravenous administration of appropriate saline solutions.
  • Respiratory disorders. A symptom of cervical osteochondrosis can be difficult to breathe when the breathing becomes shallow (you cannot "fully inhale with the chest"). It causes a similar state of compression or over-stimulation of the phrenic nerve (innervates the diaphragm, the muscle responsible for respiratory movements). In these situations, the patient experiences shortness of breath or shortness of breath. However, over-stimulation of the phrenic nerve is most often manifested by prolonged hiccups.
  • Night attacks. Holding your breath while sleeping with an unsuccessful posture can also be inherent in osteochondrosis of the cervical region. However, more often, the disease is manifested by snoring and morning lethargy due to the lack of blood containing oxygen during night sleep. This "oxygen deficiency" can lead to disorders in the brain - loss of attention and loss of memory.
  • Sore throat. It is considered one of the most common symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis. It manifests as dry throat, a "foreign body" sensation, possible itching or difficulty in the pharynx. The reason for this is the compression of the nervous and vascular bundles that extend from the spine to the organs of the neck. In addition, we must not forget that similar symptoms may indicate other pathologies (tumors or respiratory diseases). At the same time, the presence of osteochondrosis does not exclude a tumor or inflammatory processes.
  • what are the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis
  • Visual disturbances. The visual organs are supplied with blood by the vertebral and carotid arteries. Therefore, changes in vision with this pathology are less common, however, they are characteristic of people with atherosclerotic vascular plaques or hypotension (low blood pressure). Among the manifestations may be: "fog" or flash of "flies" in front of the eyes, reduced visual acuity or disturbed accommodation (focusing). At the same time, the symptoms of the disease are unstable and cannot be corrected by optics (glasses, contact lenses) or visual gymnastics.
  • Unstable pressure. When the vertebral artery is compressed, the blood supply to the vasomotor center can be disturbed, resulting in an inadequate increase and decrease in pressure. The latter may be accompanied by syncope - fainting.
  • Sinkope. Fainting is often seen in elderly people who, in addition, have atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries. Normally, a reflex vasospasm (due to over-stimulation of nerve endings by hernial protrusion or bone processes) leads to a marked decrease in the volume of blood flowing to the brain. As a result, the brain feels hypoxia - oxygen deficiency - which is the cause of the loss of consciousness. Be careful! In these situations, the fainting aid consists in the person lying on a flat surface and legs raised. Blood from the veins in the lower half of the body flows in large volumes to the heart and then to the brain, renewing the necessary blood flow. To bring a person to life, it is worth using a substance with a pungent odor, for example, ammonia. Sometimes people have speech and / or movement problems after syncope, but these symptoms are usually temporary due to the short duration of the faint. If the fainting state has lasted more than a few minutes, and after that the headache worries, although these violations do not go away after a few hours, you should suspect a stroke and go to the hospital urgently.
  • Increased temperature. This is a very rare symptom of cervical osteochondrosis. It occurs when blood flow is impaired in the hypothalamus (the thermoregulatory center of the brain). So, not only an increase, but also a decrease in body temperature is possible. However, most of the time local phenomena are observed - hyperemia (redness and warmth) in the collar area. Remember that the presence of osteochondrosis does not exclude an increase in temperature due to inflammation or edema!
  • Static violations. These are the posture curvatures, "alignment" of the cervical curvature of the spine, as well as subluxation in the joints of the spine. These changes lead to a redistribution of the load, due to which some parts of the spine (for example, the lumbar) are overloaded. This can lead to the concomitant development of osteochondrosis in other parts of the spine.
  • Spinal effusion. As mentioned above, stage IV cervical osteochondrosis can result in stroke (spinal cord injury). Such pathology is extremely rare, but it is distinguished by its danger: tetraplegia (complete immobilization of the arms and legs), absence of pain and sensitivity to temperature in all extremities, sometimes retraction of the eyes, drop of the eyelid, constriction of the pupil, tendernessimpaired in the face and so on. In such cases, immediate surgical intervention is indicated.

Disease prevention

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

  • to promptly treat spinal injuries (bruises and dislocations);
  • disorders of correct posture (kyphosis, lordosis, scoliosis), instability of the spinal segments, ligament apparatus;
  • to correct orthopedic problems (clubfoot, flat feet), as well as to prefer orthopedic shoes, with comfortable heel or special insole;
  • to reduce excess weight to normal;
  • balances nutrition by increasing the level of micronutrients, fluids and foods that contain collagen (jelly and bone broths);
  • not lead a sedentary lifestyle, limiting heavy physical activity;
  • undergo annual preventive examinations (especially for those employed in industries where there is an increased level of vibration from machinery, equipment or machinery in motion);
  • athletes, bodybuilders, etc. do not stop training abruptly.

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

It is worth remembering that osteochondrosis is a progressive disease that does not disappear on its own. Many patients are stimulated by remission (a period of weakening of the disease), which makes them return to their old way of life and discontinue treatment. This in turn significantly worsens the outcome of the disease. So, if you notice symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, see a neurologist urgently! After all, there is no better treatment than timely therapy!