Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis bother every 2nd person whose age has passed the mark of 30 years. Young and old are susceptible to this disease, its prevalence is colossal, and the consequences are varied and serious. Untreated cervical osteochondrosis can lead to vertebral artery syndrome, sciatica, impaired hand motility, vision, hearing, severe memory problems and other cognitive functions.
The disease is especially merciless to city dwellers - symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis are observed in them already at the age of 25, earlier than any other diseases of the musculoskeletal system (except, perhaps, autoimmune). How to recognize the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis in time so as not to lose efficiency long before retirement?
Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis in women
As a rule, the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis in women appear 5-10 years later than in men. First of all, this is due to the later onset of menopause and anatomical features (including lighter bone structure).
Before the massive spread of computers and the demand for sedentary professions, the average age at onset of symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis in women ranged from 50 to 55 years. But now the disease is "younger" up to 40-45 years old.
Unlike a similar problem in men, symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis in women more often include:
- sudden pressure surges, especially on the weather;
- pallor of the face, blue on the lips and skin;
- reduced sensitivity, up to numbness, of the skin of the face and neck-collar zone, which is accompanied by tingling or creeping;
- feeling of nausea, which is especially intensified in stressful situations.
It should be remembered that cervical osteochondrosis is a disease of the whole organism, so it can adversely affect conception and pregnancy. Also, the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis in women can cause ovarian dysfunction and disruption of the monthly cycle.
Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis in men
Symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis in men usually appear at the age of 40-45 years. Often, patients notice them during physical activity (for example, exercising in the gym or lifting weights). Delayed self-diagnosis of symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis in men is associated not only with a reluctance to go to the doctor, but also with physiological prerequisites. In men, the vertebrae are stronger and thicker than in women, and the vessels are stronger. Therefore, they can notice discomfort only when the changes have already affected the intervertebral discs. Typical symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis in men include:
- decreased overall strength and endurance;
- deterioration in libido and erectile dysfunction;
- irritability, sometimes neuroses;
- deterioration in motor skills ("awkward fingers");
- headaches that do not go away after taking analgesics.
Spinal hernias with symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis are more common in men than in women.
Common symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis
Zero and first stages of the disease can proceed without pain. Usually they are accompanied by discomfort after a hard day's work or physical exertion; with a sharp turn or tilt of the head, sleep in an uncomfortable position, stiffness may be felt, which is usually attributed to a pulled muscle or other reasons.
More often, patients show symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis, which at first glance are not associated with the neck. Patients complain about:
- dizziness, headache, or even an acute migraine;
- balance disorders (for example, when getting out of bed in the morning or suddenly rising from a sitting position);
- deterioration in speech clarity;
- breathing problems (it becomes frequent and shallow);
- high blood pressure (under load it can "hit the head" so that a person loses balance);
- muscle weakness of the arms, deterioration of fine motor skills of the fingers;
- noticeable deterioration in vision, not associated with ophthalmic diseases, as well as hearing;
- sweating (sometimes accompanied by chills).
There may also be a slight crunch in the neck, deterioration in overall physical endurance and performance. In some patients, forgetfulness, difficulties with concentration appear, the tongue begins to "braid".
Such a "bouquet" of symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis is rare: usually one patient has only 2-3 signs, so the problem can go unnoticed for a long time, and the symptomatology can be misinterpreted.
The symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis are characterized by the following localization: the occiput, cervical-collar zone, upper limbs.
The intensity and specificity of symptoms varies depending on the stage of the disease:
- Stage 1: neck stiffness, neck pain when bending over, wearing a backpack, sudden movements;
- 2nd stage: initial pains intensify, excruciating headaches, chronic fatigue, disturbances of facial innervation, absent-mindedness are added to them;
- 3rd stage: due to wear of the intervertebral discs, hernias can form, which cause radiating pain in the back of the head and upper limbs, stiffen the shoulders, accompanied by dizziness and deterioration of strength indicators;
- 4th stage: severe destruction of the cartilage tissue leads to pinching, permanent trauma and inflammation of the nerve roots of the spinal cord.
Symptoms of dizziness with cervical osteochondrosis
Symptoms of dizziness in cervical osteochondrosis can be systemic and non-systemic. Systemic dizziness implies disturbances in the work of several analyzers at once (visual, vestibular apparatus, receptors in soft tissues and joints), which are accompanied by a feeling that the whole body or the whole room is rotating. Patients often think that the room is "moving", and they are numbed. Non-systemic dizziness is less pronounced and causes, rather, a feeling of insecurity and unsteadiness. At the same time, the world around the patient does not revolve in a circle, and the painful condition makes itself felt with a feeling of mild nausea and deafness, as when leaving a very stuffy room.
Usually, the symptom of dizziness in cervical osteochondrosis is associated with other signs of the disease. Sometimes it manifests itself so strongly that it can become a reason for urgent hospitalization, since it directly threatens the patient's health (it can cause injury, severe disturbances in the central nervous system).
- If the symptom of dizziness in cervical osteochondrosis is accompanied by fading of consciousness and lightheadedness, the patient should immediately provide an influx of fresh air and lay him on his back on a hard surface (preferably on the floor). A pinched artery in cervical osteochondrosis can cause complete loss of consciousness, therefore it is important to restore normal nutrition to the brain. To do this, you need to lay the patient's head straight, while the neck should be stretched and relaxed.
- Severe headache and a sharp deterioration in health, nausea usually indicate a severe spasm, which, in the absence of medical assistance, can even lead to a stroke. Muscular paralysis (face, shoulders) is all the more alarming.
- Impaired coordination of movements, which accompanies the symptom of dizziness, with cervical osteochondrosis also indicates a deterioration in blood circulation in the brain or spinal cord and requires emergency medical attention.
In addition to cervical osteochondrosis, symptoms of dizziness can cause inflammatory diseases of the ENT organs, cerebrovascular spasms, cardiovascular diseases, intoxication, and vestibular disorders. Therefore, this symptom should be carefully investigated by a healthcare professional.
Headache with cervical osteochondrosis
With cervical osteochondrosis, headache is not a specific symptom - it can accompany more than 20 other diseases. With pathology of intervertebral discs, it can be caused by:
- cerebral vasospasm;
- pinching of the nerve roots of the spinal cord;
- increased intracranial pressure, especially against the background of general hypertension.
How does a head hurt with cervical osteochondrosis? Symptoms of the disease vary depending on the stage of the disease, the affected vertebrae, and the specific cause of the pain. Headache with cervical osteochondrosis can roll in attacks (mainly in the evening) or haunt the patient constantly.
Severe headaches, according to the testimony of patients, cause a sensation of a red-hot needle or burning pulsation in the brain (less often - dull squeezing), accompanied by numbness in the neck-collar zone, a feeling of "goose bumps" and tingling in the area from the shoulders to the back of the head. In this case, the usual preparations "from the head" usually do not help much. These sensations cannot be ignored: with an unfavorable course of the disease or a weak cardiovascular system, they can lead to a stroke or heart attack. Therefore, if a headache with cervical osteochondrosis is accompanied by heart rhythm disturbances, chest pains, a feeling of compression or something that has come off in the chest, you should immediately contact a cardiologist for further examination.
Headache with cervical osteochondrosis often worries women and quickly takes on the character of migraines, especially severe after the experienced nervous shock.
Symptoms of a sore throat with cervical osteochondrosis
Symptoms of a sore throat with cervical osteochondrosis are not found in all patients and are rarely interpreted correctly by them. It often occurs after sleep, anxiety, physical exertion, sneezing or coughing, it can subside, or it can be felt constantly. The cause of unpleasant sensations is the constant compensatory tension of the neck muscles - while the trachea and esophagus are irritated. A lump in the throat, as a symptom of cervical osteochondrosis, can cause the patient to have a psychological fear of choking, especially during sleep, during a long conversation or when swallowing solid food.
- pain is felt in the depths of the neck, not only in the back of it, but also behind the throat;
- when turning the head, the patient experiences characteristic discomfort, a dry, rough crunch, as if from friction between the vertebrae;
- a characteristic symptom of sore throat with cervical osteochondrosis is its localization from the side, to the right or left of the spine, and not in the center;
- most often, a sore throat is felt above the collarbone, i. e. , between the 4th and 5th vertebrae;
- stagnation in the neck is accompanied by a feeling of perspiration, accumulation of mucus behind the tonsils;
- symptoms of sore throat with cervical osteochondrosis may be accompanied by spasms, palpable when swallowing, laughing, exertion;
- they are often accompanied by a weakening of the neck muscles, edema, and skin sensitivity disorders;
- a symptom of a sore throat with cervical osteochondrosis increases progressively as degenerative changes in the spine progress;
- difficulties and pain cause turning the head left and right, up and down.
Such pain is usually mild and does not attract the patient's attention, it is perceived muted. However, it can be accompanied by lumbago in the shoulders and arms, a crunch in the neck and even a toothache that has no real dental cause.
Please note: unlike neoplasms and other diseases in the throat area, sore throat with cervical osteochondrosis is a symptom that does not interfere with the passage of food and fluids.
Blood pressure in cervical osteochondrosis
With cervical osteochondrosis, ringing in the ears indicates high blood pressure. First of all, it is associated with compression of blood vessels, due to which the nutrition of the central nervous system is disrupted - and therefore is of a compensatory nature.
Tinnitus with cervical osteochondrosis does not constantly pursue patients: hypertension has a daily dynamics. Contractions of blood vessels can be short-term responses to nerve irritation.
In addition to ringing in the ears, with cervical osteochondrosis, blood pressure makes itself felt:
- a feeling of constriction in the chest;
- a sharp "jump" in pressure after physical and emotional stress, overheating in the sun, a sharp rise.
Do not ignore ringing in the ears with cervical osteochondrosis - surges in blood pressure can provoke a hypertensive crisis and heart attack!
Panic attacks with cervical osteochondrosis
Panic attacks with cervical osteochondrosis are expressed in attacks of severe anxiety. Patients complain of the feeling that they are about to have a heart attack. This fear is often the main reason for going to the doctor, after which osteochondrosis is found in patients.
Panic attacks with cervical osteochondrosis are accompanied by symptoms such as:
- chest pain, in which the heart seems to jump out of the chest;
- bad mood, depression, tearfulness associated with bad feelings;
- sweating and shortness of breath;
- strong fear of death;
- nausea, stomach cramps, or colic;
- stool disorders;
- difficulty concentrating, thinking and working;
- numbness and coldness of the limbs;
- the urge to urinate with an unfilled bladder;
- a feeling in the patient that he is thrown into a heat, then into a cold.
Panic attacks with cervical osteochondrosis are more likely to bother people leading a sedentary lifestyle. They can begin in an elevator or in a large crowd of people, after long, exhausting work, stress.
The duration of a panic attack in cervical osteochondrosis is usually 3-5, less often 10 minutes. After it, patients usually experience severe fatigue, depression, and a desire to lie down. Taken together, all these signs indicate a violation of cerebral circulation and require a visit to a doctor.
In addition to panic attacks with cervical osteochondrosis, depression can be observed.
Treatment and prevention of symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis
Comprehensive treatment of the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis includes drug therapy, exercise therapy, physiotherapy, massage and maintaining a healthy diet.
Please note that at the 1st, preclinical, stage, a complete cure for cervical osteochondrosis is possible! This requires a change in lifestyle to a more mobile, daily therapeutic exercise, a balanced diet.
In advanced cases, surgical treatment may be required (with a displacement of the vertebra, the formation of a hernia, or a strong narrowing of the lumen of the spinal column).
Massage for cervical osteochondrosis
Massage of the cervical-collar zone is a great way to prevent the development of cervical osteochondrosis and to protect against its exacerbations. It helps to relieve pain, strengthens muscles and improves tissue trophism (after a session in patients it often "clears up in the head"). Some massage techniques are available only to qualified professionals. They should not be repeated at home, as the neck contains a huge number of nerve bundles and blood vessels. Their clamping is fraught with loss of consciousness, the development of inflammation in the nerve endings, a violation of the trophism of the brain.
But a simple "household" massage with warming and anesthetic ointments, creams and balms can be performed at home. It helps to relax muscles, eliminate "clamps".
Remember that in the presence of inflammation (swelling, increased sensitivity of the skin, local increase in temperature), massage is strictly prohibited! It will only worsen the patient's condition! Also, "home" massage is contraindicated for hypertonicity of the muscles of the cervical-collar zone. In this case, you should consult a specialist or start with special exercises in therapeutic gymnastics.
Classic massage techniques for cervical osteochondrosis symptoms include:
- stroking the skin from the back of the head to the subclavian zone to warm up the skin and relax the muscles;
- squeezing - performed by a kind of "grip" between the thumb and forefinger. In this case, it is necessary to clasp the neck, gently pressing on the muscles and stretching them;
- rubbing - affects the skin and muscles, warms them up, relaxes the so-called. "Protective" tension, restores disturbed blood circulation;
- kneading - affects the deep layers of tissues, therefore it should be performed strictly by a specialist.
Please note that massage techniques, intensity and localization of massage effects differ depending on the stage of cervical osteochondrosis. If the patient is worried about pain on only one side, the massage is performed symmetrically, starting with the healthy half. Before a neck massage, it is advisable to knead the entire back, since the position and nutrition of the vertebrae in osteochondrosis can be disturbed according to the domino principle.
Therapeutic exercises for cervical osteochondrosis
Therapeutic exercises for cervical osteochondrosis can be performed at home and at work. An important condition: the entire set of exercises should be done daily, ideally 3-4 times a day. If you spend a lot of time at the computer or in one position, you should take a 5-minute warm-up break every 1. 5-2 hours.
Exercise therapy for cervical osteochondrosis helps to strengthen the muscles of the neck, remove clamps, and restore blood circulation.
- Sit upright in a chair. Turn your head left and right without sudden movements, turning 180 °.
- Lower your head down, trying to reach your chest with your chin, but not pulling your shoulders forward.
- Draw in your chin, trying to bring it over the chest line.
- Sit at a table and put your elbows on it. Place your palms on your temples and turn your head, overcoming moderate resistance from your own hands. Repeat for tilting the head (with the palm on the forehead).
- Pull your shoulders up to your earlobes and then lower them.
- Self-massage the back of the head.
Patients with cervical osteochondrosis are recommended to exercise on the water: swimming, water aerobics, hydro massage and others.
In addition to remedial gymnastics, patients with symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis are shown wearing special collars, which help to reduce compression of nerve endings, prevent hernias, and fight sore throat and trophic disorders.
Physiotherapy for symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis
Physiotherapy for symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis in women and men is carried out in courses several times a year. It allows you to slow down the progression of the disease and its complications, relieve symptoms.
For pathology of the cervical spine, it is recommended:
- laser therapy;
- shock wave therapy;
- mud therapy and balneotherapy;
- manual therapy;
- traction therapy;
Medicines for cervical osteochondrosis
To relieve the symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis in women and men, the following groups of drugs are used:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs - help relieve pain, inflammation and swelling, however, they are taken in symptomatic courses (about 10-12 days) and do not affect the causes of the disease.
- Glucocorticoids - indicated for the elimination of pain and decompression of the nerve roots in severe cases, when simple analgesics and NSAIDs are ineffective. They have significant side effects and must be used strictly as prescribed by your doctor.
- Correctors of microcirculation of blood, angioprotectors - help to establish blood circulation and protect the vessels of the brain from damage.
- Chondroprotectors - affect the very cause of the disease (deterioration of the quality of the intervertebral discs). This group of drugs contributes to the structural normalization of cartilage tissue, its speedy regeneration and normal nutrition. Of all the drugs, only chondroprotectors are really able to slow down the destruction of cartilage and improve their shock-absorbing qualities (all others only relieve symptoms).
Prevention of cervical osteochondrosis
In addition to physical activity and diet, the following tips are valuable for the prevention of symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis:
- equip the workplace in accordance with ergonomic norms (for example, use chairs with neck support, armrests);
- during a working day, do a warm-up every hour;
- try to sleep on low pillows and orthopedic or moderately hard mattresses without squeezing;
- walk more, do yoga;
- monitor body weight;
- carefully dose the loads, avoid traumatic activities;
- from time to time take preventive courses of massage of the neck and collar zone;
- try not to hold your head for a long time in an unnatural position (for example, pressing the phone to your ear);
- use comfortable backpacks and bags without skewing;
- engage in posture correction;
- give up bad habits;
- treat infectious diseases and injuries in time;
- drink a 2-4-month course of chondroprotector annually.