Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis or how to recognize the disease?

symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis

At an early age, a person develops the initial symptoms of cartilage disease - osteochondrosis.

Often the cervical region of the spine suffers first, which can lead to intervertebral hernia and severe sensory and movement disorders.

Therefore, not only the knowledge of the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis but also its timely diagnosis arises.

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 naturally stops.

These changes in the spine correspond to the initial stage of the disease, when there are no manifestations of cervical osteochondrosis. However, the combination of additional factors (heredity, stress, early trauma, etc. ) stimulates further progression of the disease.

The next stage in the development of the disease is the stretching of the membrane of the intervertebral disc, the fibrous sheath. Due to the loss of moisture, the disc changes shape and "bulges", which is called protruding in medicine. At this stage, the first signs appear - sharp burning pains in the neck 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 that compresses blood vessels and nerve fibers. However, disturbances in the feeling and movement of the upper limbs as well as the collar zone are associated with pain.

The transition to the fourth stage of the disease is the complete destruction of the intervertebral disc, when the blood supply is cut off not only to individual nerve fibers but to the entire spinal cord. The changes that occur at this stage are irreversible and therefore require surgical treatment.

General symptoms of the disease

Osteochondrosis can be diagnosed in one or more parts of the spine. However, osteochondrosis of the cervical spine is considered particularly dangerous because this part of the spine contains large blood vessels and nerve roots that supply blood and innervate not only the hands but also the brain.

So the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis can be divided into three major groups:

  1. Compression of arteries:Usually we talk about vertebral arteries that are located in the processes of the cervical vertebrae and supply the brain;
  2. Pinched nerve roots:occurs with damage to movement and sensation in the parietal region of the hand and skull and in the back of the head;
  3. Spinal cord compression:is ​​a variant of stage IV disease associated with severe neurological disorders (paralysis, lack of superficial sensations, etc. ).

The manifestations described are general. However, there are a number of private symptoms that allow the disease to be recognized at an early stage.


The first manifestation of osteochondrosis of the neck is a local pain syndrome - cervicalgia. This is usually a severe pain in the neck that sometimes spreads to the arm or the back of the head. Pain occurs after poor posture (long journeys in traffic, sleep) or physical activity. They are usually passed on by themselves.

After a sharp twisting or tilting of the head, lumbar pain may occur in the collar zone (otherwise cervicago). It is often accompanied by muscle tension, which makes it impossible for the head to move (up to 10 days after the appearance of the cervicago).

Over time, adaptation to pain occurs. But in the second stage, the pain usually increases, indicating further displacement and destruction of the intervertebral disc.

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

Other types of pain syndrome:

  • is ​​an urgent headache that often mimics a migraine but is not relieved with standard painkillers. It usually "deviates" to the back of the head, the parietal and temporal regions, sometimes the eyeballs. In this case, it can be single-sided or double-sided;
  • "Heart" pain (or cardialgia) is extremely rare. Chest pain manifests itself that may resemble an attack of angina pectoris.

Be careful!If chest pain is caused by osteochondrosis, then "heart" medications don't help in this condition! If these pills bring short-term relief while the fear of death is palpable, a heart attack should be suspected and you should go to the hospital urgently.

Cervical Spinal Sensory Disorders

Loss, decrease, or increase in sensitivity is a major symptom of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine. Thus, sensory abnormalities are often observed in the back of the head as well as around the shoulder joint or hand.

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

Movement Disorders

When the intervertebral hernia compresses the motor nerve fibers, the patient may experience muscle weakness with a limited range of motion - paresis. An extreme degree of movement disorders is paralysis - a complete lack of movement, as well as a decrease in muscle tone (until atrophy) and the disappearance of reflexes. Such symptoms may be transient in the early stages.

Other symptoms

The manifestations described above are classic symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis.

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

  • Head spin. It is often accompanied by osteochondrosis. Dizziness is accompanied by a defect in the blood supply to the inner ear, which is the equilibrium paired organ located in the temporal bone. Irregular postures or intermittent exacerbations of osteochondrosis trigger dizziness, sometimes accompanied by nystagmus - rapid fluctuations in pupils. The human balance organ is supplied with blood by an artery - the vertebral artery. It passes through the cervical vertebrae, so it can "compress" during spinal diseases (compression, bone fractures).
  • Ringing tinnitus. Tinnitus or ear congestion is another way to damage the "transport" of blood to the inner ear. This symptom occurs after a long improper stay and then disappears. This is the last symptom that distinguishes a similar symptom of osteochondrosis from similar symptoms of other diseases.
  • Nausea. It is an independent symptom, but is sometimes accompanied by vomiting or vomiting. The latter is provoked by tilting and rotating the head, sometimes even walking. The reason for this condition is the same as for dizziness - decreased transport of arterial blood to the balance organ. However, prolonged vomiting can have serious complications - dehydration and loss of salts, which can lead to alkalosis (alkalinization of the blood). Intravenous administration of appropriate saline solutions is required for this condition.
  • Respiratory disorders. A symptom of cervical osteochondrosis can be difficulty breathing if breathing becomes shallow (unable to fully "breathe with your chest"). It causes a similar state of compression or overstimulation of the phrenic nerve (it innervates the diaphragm, the muscle responsible for breathing movements). In such situations, the patient experiences shortness of breath or shortness of breath. However, more often, excessive stimulation of the french nerve occurs in prolonged hiccups.
  • Night Attacks. Breath retention during sleep with failed posture also lies in osteochondrosis of the cervical region. But more often, the disease occurs with snoring and morning lethargy due to lack of oxygenated blood during sleep at night. Such "lack of oxygen" can lead to brain disorders - loss of attention and memory.
  • Sore throat. It is one of the most common symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervix. It manifests as dry throat, a "foreign body" feeling, possible itching, or a throat difficulty. This is due to the tightening of nerve and vascular bundles from the spine to the neck organ. We should also not forget that similar symptoms may indicate other conditions (tumors or respiratory diseases). However, the presence of osteochondrosis does not preclude tumor or inflammatory processes.
  • what are the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis
  • Visual Impairments. Both the vertebrae and the carotid artery supply blood to the visual organs. Therefore, changes in vision are less common in this pathology, but are common in people with atherosclerotic vascular plaques or hypotension (low blood pressure). Manifestations may include: "fog" or "flies" in the eye, decreased visual acuity, or impaired vision (focusing). However, the symptoms of the disease are unstable and cannot be corrected with optics (glasses, contact lenses) or visual gymnastics.
  • Unstable pressure. When the vertebral artery is compressed, the blood supply to the vasomotor center may be disrupted, resulting in an inadequate increase and decrease in pressure. The latter may be accompanied by syncope - fainting conditions.
  • Syncope. Fainting is often observed in elderly people who also have atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries. Usually, a reflex vasospasm (due to overstimulation of nerve endings by herniation or bone processes) leads to a sudden decrease in the volume of blood flowing into the brain. As a result, the brain feels hypoxia - a lack of oxygen - which is the cause of loss of consciousness. Be careful! In such situations, help with fainting consists in placing the person on a flat surface and lifting his leg. From the veins in the lower half of the body, large amounts of blood flow to the heart and then to the brain, restoring the necessary blood flow. It is advisable to use a pungent-smelling substance, such as ammonia, to bring a person to life. Sometimes people have speech and / or movement problems after fainting, but these symptoms are usually temporary due to the short duration of fainting. If the fainting lasted for more than a few minutes and then the headache worries while these violations do not go away after a few hours, you should suspect a stroke and go to the hospital urgently.
  • Temperature rise. This is a very rare symptom of cervical osteochondrosis. It occurs when blood flow to the hypothalamus (the thermoregulatory center of the brain) is impaired. Then not only an increase but also a decrease in body temperature is possible. However, local phenomena are most often observed - hyperemia (redness and warming) in the collar zone. Remember that the presence of osteochondrosis does not rule out a rise in temperature due to inflammation or swelling!
  • Static violations. These are the curvature of the posture, the "alignment" of the cervical curvature of the spine, and the subluxation of the joints of the spine. Such changes lead to redistribution of load, resulting in overload of parts of the spine (such as the groin). This can lead to the concomitant development of osteochondrosis in other parts of the spine.
  • Spine Stroke. As mentioned above, IV. Stage cervical osteochondrosis can cause spinal cord (spinal cord damage). Such a pathology is extremely rare, but its danger distinguishes it: usually tetraplegia (complete immobilization of the arms and legs), pain and lack of temperature sensitivity in all limbs, sometimes eye retraction, eyelid sagging, pupil contraction, facial tenderness. deterioration, etc. In such cases, immediate surgical intervention is indicated.

Disease prevention

Preventing the development and complications of the necessary disease:

  • Treat spinal injuries (bruises and displacements) immediately;
  • correct postural disorders (kyphosis, lordosis, scoliosis), instability of spinal segments, tape devices;
  • to correct orthopedic problems (with feet, flat feet) and to prefer orthopedic shoes with comfortable heels or special insoles;
  • to reduce overweight to normal;
  • balances the diet by increasing the levels of micronutrients, fluids and collagen-containing foods (jellies and bone soups);
  • do not lead a sedentary lifestyle while restricting strenuous physical activity;
  • should be subject to annual preventive inspections (especially for those working in industries where the vibration of machine tools, equipment or moving machines is increased);
  • athletes, bodybuilders, etc. they do not stop training suddenly.

Elderly patients should be controlled for comorbidities (atherosclerosis and arterial hypertension). At the same time, it is important to rule out bad habits (alcohol and smoking) and to avoid stressful situations that lead to nervous tension.

It is worth remembering that osteochondrosis is a progressive disease that does not go away on its own. Many patients are induced by remission (a period of worsening of the disease) that causes them to return to their old lifestyle and stop treatment. This in turn significantly aggravates the outcome of the disease. Therefore, if you notice symptoms of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine, consult a neurologist immediately! After all, there is no better treatment than timely therapy!