Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis

Cervical osteochondrosis is a lesion of the vertebral discs of the cervical spine, as a result of which they undergo degenerative-dystrophic changes. The main reason for its development is a violation of the normal course of metabolic processes, which leads to distortion of the structure of the vertebral bodies and cartilaginous discs. In the case of localization in the neck, the symptoms of the pathology are largely determined by the compression of large vessels. The methods of treatment are chosen depending on the stage, the specifics of the course, the severity, the main symptoms.

Characteristics of the disease

The cervical form is the most dangerous type of osteochondrosis: it leads to deterioration of cerebral circulation, as the vertebral artery passes through this area - one of the largest vessels supplying the brain with the necessary substances and oxygen.

Dislocations of the vertebrae, unusual changes and overgrowth of bone and fibrous tissue disrupt the normal functioning of the vessel. The specificity of the symptoms of osteochondrosis in this part is determined, among other things, by one of the structural features of the cervical vertebrae, which consists in their closer adhesion to each other. As a result, any change in one segment provokes the failure of the entire department.

Clinic depending on the stage

In the process of its development, cervical osteochondrosis goes through four stages. How does it affect each of them?

  1. Stage 1. It is characterized by the appearance of initial disturbances in the stability of the intervertebral discs. Symptoms are mild or absent. Not very pronounced sensations of pain and local muscle tension are possible.
  2. Stage 2. Disc protrusion begins, the gaps between the vertebrae are reduced, the annular fibrosis collapses. In many cases, as a result of compression of the nerve endings, pain occurs, mainly of a point nature. They are amplified by turning, tilting the neck. Decreases tone, weakness often occurs.
  3. Stage 3. The process of final destruction of the fibrous ring leads to the formation of a hernia. This stage is characterized by significant deformation of the spine. Increased pain and fatigue occur against the background of sensory disturbances and limited mobility in the affected area.
  4. Stage 4 is the most difficult. The syndrome of intense pain manifests itself in any attempt to move, which leads to a significant limitation of the mobility of this department. Sometimes the pain subsides, but this does not show an improvement in the condition, but only shows an increase in the size of the bone growths, significantly restricting movement. They often lead to injury to the patient.
Pain is the main symptom of cervical osteochondrosis

Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis

When located in the cervical spine, the predominant symptoms of osteochondrosis are:

  • pain in the neck, nape, shoulder, arms;
  • restriction of movements, crunching at different turns, tilting the neck;
  • weakness in the hands;
  • pulling pain in the left side of the chest, radiating to the respective arm;
  • burning in the interscapular area;
  • recurrent headaches;
  • weakness;
  • dizziness (severe cervical osteochondrosis may lead to loss of consciousness);
  • coordination of movements is impaired, which is mainly reflected in gait;
  • hearing impairment, ringing in the ears;
  • reduced vision;
  • sore throat;
  • poor dental health;
  • weakening or hoarseness of the voice;
  • snoring is a consequence of tension in the muscles of the neck.

In the cervicothoracic type, the symptoms are almost similar to those in cervical osteochondrosis. This:

  • asthenic syndrome;
  • dizziness and headache;
  • periodic pressure fluctuations;
  • blinking flies in front of the eyes;
  • pain in the shoulder girdle and arms;
  • muscle weakness;
  • tingling, numbness, coldness of the fingers;
  • chest pain, heart area;
  • nausea;
  • numbness of the tongue, face;
  • dental problems;
  • Feeling of current running through the arms when trying to bend the neck.


Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis are not considered typical. Which of them is most pronounced depends largely on the specific goal. Many of the manifestations may be mistakenly associated with other pathological conditions. Therefore, there are often cases when improper treatment is prescribed.
The complex of symptoms is divided into the following groups:

  • radicular;
  • spinal artery syndrome;
  • irritative-reflex syndrome.

Radicular syndrome

His middle name is cervical sciatica. The syndrome develops as a result of pinching the nerve endings of the neck. The pain is transmitted down from the neck, given to the shoulder blades, down the shoulder on the outside of the forearm to the fingers. In this case, the following often occur:

  • ominous feeling;
  • numbness of the hand, forearm, fingers;
  • pasty.

Manifestations also vary depending on the area of ​​the lesion. If the extremities of the central nerve are affected, the pastosity extends to the thumb, middle, index finger. When the ends of the brachial nerve are pinched, the little finger and the ring finger are affected.

Irritable-reflex syndrome

Burning sharp pain in the cervical region, appearing during movement after a static state: after sleep, when sneezing, a sharp turn of the head becomes his sign. Often the pain radiates to the shoulder and chest.

Spinal artery syndrome

The symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis are:

  • throbbing or burning headache (paroxysmal or persistent) spreading to the temporal area, crown of the head, nape and eyebrows;
  • increased discomfort during certain movements or after a long time in an awkward position;
  • general weakness;
  • nausea;
  • loss of consciousness;
  • hearing problems;
  • disorders of the vestibular apparatus;
  • eye pain;
  • blurred vision.

Heart Syndrome

When this complex of symptoms of osteochondrosis of the neck develops, a picture almost similar to angina pectoris develops, which often leads to wrong treatment.
Muscle contractions and spasms in the heart area are most likely a reflex response to compression of the nerve endings in the lower cervical region. Cardiac syndrome is a consequence of irritation of the diaphragmatic nerve (its fibers lead to the pericardium) or the pectoralis major muscle:

  • the pain appears suddenly, lasts a long time;
  • aggravated by sudden movement of the neck, coughing, sneezing;
  • tachycardia and extrasystole are possible;
  • pain does not stop after taking coronary dilators;
  • shows no signs of impaired ECG circulation.
Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

Exacerbation of the disease

At the stage of exacerbation the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis are:

  • increased pain and its radiation to the shoulder blade, interscapular area, arms, shoulders;
  • Difficulty moving the shoulders, torso, arms, sometimes breathing (inhaling and exhaling);
  • pain syndrome often resembles a heart attack or intercostal neuralgia;
  • when the pain appears in the right hypochondrium or iliac region, the clinic is similar to the manifestations of gastritis or cholecystitis;
  • headache is long-term, has an imbalance, visual and auditory functions;
  • in the area of ​​innervation the trophism of the skin is disturbed, tingling, numbness, dryness, pallor, burning, coldness appear;
  • neck muscle tone increases;
  • weakness, lethargy, nervous tension, anxiety, emotional instability appear;
  • possible sleep disorders, memory impairments and concentration problems.

Osteochondrosis and vegetative-vascular dystonia

Cervical osteochondrosis can lead to subluxation of the first cervical vertebra with a shift to the right or left, which provokes the development of VSD (vegetative-vascular dystonia). It is quite difficult to identify, as there are often no symptoms or they are mild. In this case it is possible:

  • compression of the sympathetic nerve plexuses leading to the appearance of neurological signs or VSD;
  • compression of the arteries and damage to the cerebral circulation;
  • compression of veins, provoking a violation of blood flow and a subsequent jump in intracranial pressure;
  • compression of the spinal cord, provoking deterioration of the movement of cerebrospinal fluid, which also leads to high pressure inside the skull;
  • muscle spasm that worsens symptoms as a result of severe compression of blood vessels and nerves.

The resulting processes are:

  • headache;
  • darkening of the eyes;
  • dizziness;
  • impaired visual acuity;
  • double vision (diplopia);
  • blinks before the eyes of "flies";
  • high or low pressure;
  • nausea, sometimes with vomiting;
  • loss of consciousness.

Spinal subluxation is detected by X-ray. Its reduction is a rather complicated procedure, which is usually performed under general anesthesia.

How the disease is diagnosed

The leading methods for diagnosing cervical osteochondrosis are:

  • radiography;
  • magnetic resonance imaging;
  • computed tomography;
  • Doppler ultrasound;
  • duplex scan.

The last two methods are used to check the condition of the vessels in the neck.