Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of cervical osteochondrosis of the 1st degree

Cervical osteochondrosis of grade 1 is the initial stage of irreversible, destructive and degenerative changes in the intervertebral cartilaginous discs and vertebral bony bodies. It is rarely possible to diagnose pathology at an early stage of development, since cervical osteochondrosis may not manifest clinically. Even on x-ray images, there are often no characteristic signs of damage to cartilage structures.


Features of cervical osteochondrosis 1 degree

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine of the 1st degree is often detected by chance - when diagnosing other pathologies, even unrelated to the musculoskeletal system. But sometimes the patient himself comes to the doctor, alarmed by the deterioration of his general well-being. Indeed, despite the absence of pronounced symptoms of osteochondrosis, the intervertebral discs have already undergone degenerative changes:

  • cartilage tissue has become denser and enlarged;
  • radial cracks appeared on the fibrous rings.

The loss of elasticity and elasticity of the intervertebral discs worsened their damping properties. Due to their inability to completely alleviate the load on the vertebrae, there is still a slight instability of the cervical spine. But even a slight displacement of cartilage or bone structures becomes a prerequisite for the rapid progression of osteochondrosis.

Clinical picture

With osteochondrosis of the 1st degree of the cervical spine, the characteristic signs of this pathology may be absent. The person explains the discomfort that occurs from time to time by fatigue after physical activity or muscle overwork due to a long stay of the body in one position. Gradually, the intensity of the pain in the neck increases.

Periodic, painful and still light painful sensations first appear after lifting heavy objects or hypothermia. They do not have a clear localization, often radiating to the shoulders and upper back. A painful shoulder-scapular syndrome develops, which becomes the first specific sign of cervical osteochondrosis. At the initial stage of development, the pathology can manifest itself clinically as follows:

  • restriction of mobility in the neck. When tilting or rotating the head, stiffness of movements is felt, without the appearance of pain;
  • the sensitivity of the parts of the body innervated by the nerve plexuses common with the cervical region begins to decrease. Decreases the tactility of the shoulders and forearms, less often of the hands;Numbness of the upper limbs with cervical osteochondrosis
  • the patient feels a decrease in the muscle strength of the arms;
  • headache, dizziness becomes more frequent, visual acuity decreases for a short time.Headache and dizziness are common signs of cervical osteochondrosis

1st degree cervical osteochondrosis may be indicated by attacks of sharp, throbbing, stabbing pain. They usually occur with a sharp turn of the head. This is how the increased tone of the neck muscles manifests itself. Their spasm is a compensatory reaction of the body to the instability of the spinal segments.

Osteochondrosis is characterized by changes in relapses with stages of remission. With exacerbations, discomfort in the neck is felt constantly. In the clinical picture, vascular, neurological and static signs are present at the same time. At the stage of remission, the disease is almost asymptomatic.


The diagnosis is made on the basis of the patient's complaints and a series of tests to determine the mobility of the cervical segments. A clue is a history of trauma or systemic pathologies of the musculoskeletal system (gout, rheumatism, reactive arthritis).

The most informative diagnostic procedure is an x-ray. Pathologies of 1 degree correspond to 1 or 2 radiographic stages. The images obtained show typical signs of the disease.

Radiographic stages of cervical osteochondrosis 1 degreeCharacteristic signs Step 1 Minor changes in the curvature of the spine in the cervical column, affecting one or more segments 2nd step Slight thickening of intervertebral discs, deformation of uncine processes, straightening of lordosis, slight growth of bone structures Manifestations of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine on x-ray

Sometimes magnetic resonance imaging is needed to clarify the diagnosis. With its help, it is possible to detect a slow aseptic inflammatory process and destructive-degenerative changes in the intervertebral discs.


The treatment of cervical osteochondrosis of the 1st degree is long term. At the initial stage of development, the pathology lends itself well to conservative treatment. Patients are prescribed drugs, physiotherapy and massage procedures are recommended.

Massage of the cervical neck area with cervical osteochondrosis

All methods of treatment are aimed at improving blood circulation in the cervical spine. This prevents the deterioration of the trophism of the intervertebral discs - the main cause of the development of osteochondrosis. And the elimination of nutrient and oxygen deficiency stimulates the partial regeneration of cartilage tissue.

Pharmacological preparations

Clinically, grade 1 osteochondrosis is manifested by mild pain, for the elimination of which it is not necessary to use drugs in the form of tablets or solutions for parenteral administration. Patients are advised to apply ointments, gels or creams to the back of the neck if necessary:

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs;
  • locally irritating, distracting and warming agents.

In this case, it is still better to use not drugs, but biologically active additives for external use with camphor, formic alcohol, red capsicum extract, bee venom.

In treatment regimens, vertebrologists include systemic chondroprotectors. Injectable solutions are used for several days. And then the therapeutic effect is fixed by taking the pills. The course of treatment is from several months to 2 years.

Non-drug therapy

For the treatment of osteochondrosis of the 1st degree, physiotherapeutic methods are used using various physical factors: low-frequency currents, magnetic fields, laser, ultrasound. The procedures help relieve pain, relieve aseptic inflammation, and remove the increased tone of the neck muscles.

Laser treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

Neurologists and vertebrologists recommend that patients visit the massage room regularly. Thanks to the metered mechanical effect on the vertebrae, the spasmodic muscles relax, blood circulation and microcirculation improve and local immunity is strengthened. In the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis, the following types of massage are used:

  • classic;
  • indicate;
  • empty.

To increase the range of motion in the cervical spine, to eliminate the first signs of change in lordosis, allows manual therapy with an individually selected method of action.

Manual techniques for the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis

To restore the anatomically correct shape of the spine or to increase the distance between the vertebrae, traction (dry or underwater traction of the spine) is used.

Underwater traction of the spine with cervical osteochondrosis

Regular medical gymnastics exercises can replace medication, massage and physiotherapy. When performing exercise therapy exercises, blood circulation improves, the neck muscles are strengthened, stabilizing the vertebrae, and tissue trophism is normalized. Daily training is an excellent prevention of pain and stiffness in movement.

The first physiotherapy (physiotherapy) courses are given under the guidance of an exercise therapy doctor. It shows you how to do the exercises by dosing the load on the discs and vertebrae to avoid compression of the spinal roots. After a few days, the patient can independently study at home.

The value of early detection of the disease lies in a favorable prognosis for full recovery. The earlier the therapy is carried out, the greater the likelihood of a complete restoration of the functional activity of the spine.