Is it possible to treat cervical osteochondrosis?

How to treat cervical osteochondrosis? This question is asked by many patients and doctors around the world. Degenerative diseases of the musculoskeletal system are very difficult to treat and cause various complications. In these conditions, the issue of effective therapy is extremely relevant.

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

A patient with symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis during consultation with a doctor

Before finding out whether cervical osteochondrosis can be treated, it is worth understanding the essence of this disease. Osteochondrosis is a degenerative process that begins in the intervertebral discs - layers of cartilage between two adjacent vertebrae.

Imagine an intervertebral disc. It consists of an inner soft part - nucleus pulposus and an outer shell - fibrous capsule. It is this that gives a certain shape to the soft part so that the nucleus performs its shock absorber function.

In osteochondrosis, the initial degenerative process occurs precisely in the fibrous capsule:

  1. A defect occurs under the influence of harmful factors.
  2. The soft core of the disc passes through it - the protrusion of the vertebral discs is formed.
  3. As the process progresses, part of the nucleus falls off - a ruptured disc is formed.

All these processes involve surrounding tissues in inflammation. First, a reflex pain syndrome develops, and then a compression syndrome - the nerve roots are compressed by the hernia.

This process can occur in any part of the spine. One of the most common places is the neck. Is it possible to treat osteochondrosis of the cervical spine?

Treatment options

By understanding the nature of the disease and the mechanism of its development, we can think about which methods can cure the patient of this disease completely and permanently.

There are several different effects that we can expect from any therapy method: symptomatic (eliminates the manifestations of the disease), pathogenetic (disrupts the pathological mechanism of development), etiological (directly affects the cause of development).

Osteochondrosis is caused by various risk factors for the disease. If the disease already exists, it is impossible to influence them. However, preventive measures are specifically aimed at eliminating the causes.

Many treatment methods have a possible pathogenetic effect, and we will try to find this in each of the methods offered by modern medicine.

Symptomatic effect is also very important. The full course of therapy prescribed by the attending physician should always affect the manifestations of the disease, because during therapy it is necessary to alleviate the patient's health condition.

Among the various treatment methods, we will try to understand the following treatment options:

  • Exposure to drugs.
  • Orthopedic products.
  • Physiotherapy.
  • Physiotherapy, massage, manual therapy.
  • Spine operations.
  • Radiofrequency ablation.

A few words should be said about prevention, which allows you to completely prevent the appearance of the disease.

Drug therapy

Medicines prescribed for the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis

All the drugs prescribed by the doctor for osteochondrosis do not help to get rid of it. Many drugs perform a purely symptomatic function:

  1. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs - relieve inflammation.
  2. Muscle relaxants - prevent reflex muscle spasms.
  3. Local analgesics - relieves pain.
  4. Vascular agents - used for cervical osteochondrosis with vertebral artery syndrome.
  5. Glucocorticosteroids - these hormonal drugs have a pronounced anti-inflammatory effect.

Still, several drugs have a pathogenetic effect. First of all, it is necessary to mention chondroprotectors. These drugs are used only in the first stages of osteochondrosis, when there is no disc herniation. They slow down the degeneration process and prevent the formation of protrusions. It should be taken for a long time and constantly, but the therapeutic effect will be quite significant.

B vitamins - these drugs do not affect the degeneration process itself and do not help in the treatment of osteochondrosis. However, it is very important to use them in case of reflex or compression syndromes. Vitamins support metabolism in nerve tissue and prevent nerve death.

Thus, among all drugs, only timely prescribed chondroprotectors help to get rid of cervical osteochondrosis.

Orthopedic products

An orthosis that relieves the condition of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

The next treatment method, which is very popular in modern medicine, is the use of orthopedic devices. The use of corsets, bandages, orthoses is widespread.

Collars are most often used for cervical osteochondrosis, but there are other types of orthopedic devices. These products effectively relieve pain, there is no doubt about that. However, can they affect the course of the disease?

The following features of this type of therapy are important for the treatment of osteochondrosis:

  1. Corsets and collars have a compression effect - they put pressure on a certain part of the spine. This prevents the formation of protrusions and tears, that is, the occurrence of complications.
  2. Orthopedic devices always separate the vertebrae from each other in a vertical plane. This helps relieve pressure from nerve roots and intervertebral discs.
  3. If there are existing protrusions or degenerative changes, the corset will not help to get rid of them. But when used regularly, the tool helps not to remember the manifestations of the disease.

The listed features should be taken into account not only by the doctor, but also by the patient, so that you do not expect too much from the use of bandages.


It is necessary to do therapeutic exercises for cervical osteochondrosis

Therapeutic exercises are one of the most underestimated methods of treating orthopedic diseases by patients. It is regular exercises and activities that help to get rid of most manifestations of any disease.

Osteochondrosis is no exception. In the case of cervical spine pathology, physical activity has the following therapeutic properties:

  1. Exercises help relieve pain, reflex muscle spasms, compression effects on the vertebral artery and other vessels. This means that you can reduce the need for symptomatic therapy with regular exercise.
  2. Exercises help to form the muscular corset of the cervical spine. Trained muscles support internal structures, including bones and cartilage, and prevent protrusions.
  3. Degenerative changes in the disc develop under the influence of excessive, incorrectly applied load or its lack. Correct exercises prevent the degenerative process and activate blood flow in the area of the intervertebral discs.

Despite knowing such beneficial effects of exercise, many patients are too lazy to do the exercises. Start training with an expert and then apply it to your daily routine. Soon you will not be able to imagine your day without sports and a set of useful exercises.

Physiotherapy and massage

Massage will help relieve tension in the neck muscles affected by osteochondrosis.

Quite controversial methods of treatment are physiotherapy and massage. These methods certainly help to eliminate some symptoms of the disease. Neck massage helps to relieve muscle spasms, and physiotherapy relieves inflammation, pain and prevents the appearance of compression syndrome.

But can these methods treat cervical osteochondrosis? The pathogenetic effect is achieved only as part of complex treatment. Physiotherapy and massage should be used in conjunction with physical therapy and medication. The effects of different treatment methods reinforce each other:

  1. Electro- and phonophoresis helps drugs reach the spine.
  2. Manual therapy relaxes muscles after a long workout.
  3. Acupuncture and electromyostimulation combined with exercise therapy create a strong muscle corset and relieve pain.

More examples of the combined effect of various therapy methods can be given.

Also, we must not forget that all methods of physiotherapy and massage increase local blood flow and, therefore, metabolism in damaged tissues. As a result, degenerative processes slow down or stop completely.

Surgical treatment

A herniated disc in the cervical spine may require surgery.

In some cases, intervertebral disc pathology can only be removed surgically. This method also cannot be considered etiological treatment - the surgeon does not act on the cause of the disease, but removes its consequences. However, in the case of localized osteochondrosis, surgery can help to permanently relieve its symptoms.

There are various methods of surgical intervention, but most of them fall into two options:

  1. Disc plastic surgery with palliative measures. During the operation, all complications of the disease are eliminated.
  2. Prosthesis of intervertebral cartilages or replacement of the entire vertebral movement segment with a prosthesis.

Regardless of the choice of treatment method, relapses of cervical osteochondrosis are possible. The disease can affect any other adjacent intervertebral disc. Preventive measures are taken to prevent this.

You should also remember the need for post-operative rehabilitation. Many of the above therapy methods help to restore performance. It is convenient to combine them during sanatorium treatment.

Radiofrequency ablation

Radiofrequency ablation is one of the methods of treatment of cervical osteochondrosis

A very effective and promising treatment method is radiofrequency ablation. Not long ago, this method was not generally known, but now ablation is performed in many large cities.

The essence of the procedure is as follows:

  • A special electrode is applied to the damaged intervertebral disc through a needle puncture.
  • The disc is heat treated with electricity.
  • There is destruction of nerves and disc tissue itself in the affected area.
  • After ablation, the disc remains between the vertebrae. It is not able to perform the function of shock absorption, but does not cause pathological symptoms.

The advantages of the method are that there is no need for general anesthesia, short duration of the procedure and quick recovery. If the symptoms are not completely eliminated, the technique can be used as the first stage of treatment.

In most cases, ablation helps to eliminate all symptoms of osteochondrosis, but the patient is not immune from damage to other intervertebral discs with this disease.


Prevention of cervical osteochondrosis with physical activity and proper nutrition

From the above, we can conclude that all modern treatment methods only help prevent the development of cervical osteochondrosis or eliminate its manifestations only in a certain disc. There is a high probability of disease recurrence and spread to adjacent cartilaginous layers.

This process cannot be eliminated, but it can be prevented. For this purpose, numerous methods are used to prevent osteochondrosis.

If the disease has just started to bother you, if it happened to many of your relatives, or if you have been treated for osteochondrosis, follow these tips:

  1. Normalize physical activity, especially in the spine and neck. Do preventive exercises, swimming, skiing. Do not allow your neck to remain immobile for long periods of time.
  2. Eat right. A balanced diet, without harmful foods, containing a sufficient amount of protein and calcium will help prevent the disease.
  3. Eliminate bad habits that can cause the degenerative process. First of all, this is smoking and frequent alcohol consumption.
  4. When sleeping, use orthopedic aids and proper mattresses to prevent additional stress on the cervical spine.
  5. If you have spinal diseases or injuries, definitely use orthopedic products.

Simple preventive measures help to support the cervical spine and prevent the development of osteochondrosis.