Cervical osteochondrosis in women

Neck pain in a woman with cervical lumbar osteochondrosis

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine (CS) is one of the most common pathologies of the musculoskeletal system. Every year, doctors diagnose this disease more often, and its course becomes more severe. According to statistics, degenerative-dystrophic changes in the upper part of the spine occur more often in women, especially for patients in the postmenopausal period. The main symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis in women are pain, limitation of mobility and cerebrovascular insufficiency, which is not only dangerous for health, but also for life. In order to protect yourself from the dangerous consequences of the pathology, it is necessary to start its treatment at the initial stage. To stop the destruction of the spinal segments and prevent serious complications, it is important to carry out complex therapy and change the lifestyle.

Disease development

The cervical spine is most vulnerable to various injuries and degenerative changes. This is due to the fact that this segment is the most mobile and the muscles here are weak. The small cervical vertebra endures heavy loads every day, which causes the gradual destruction of the intervertebral discs. The vertebrae press against each other, causing the cartilage pads between them to lose a lot of fluid and begin to degrade and deform.

In addition, osteochondrosis of the cervical spine develops due to insufficient nutrition of cartilage tissue. And the spinal canal in this area is narrow, so it is often compressed, which causes neurological symptoms.

In the initial stage, the pathology in women is heaviness in the back of the head, tingling in the hands, etc. shows itself withPatients often confuse the first symptoms of the disease with fatigue.

There are a large number of blood vessels and nerve roots in the neck area, when they are compressed, neurological disorders can also occur. It is especially dangerous if a deformed disc or vertebra compresses the vertebral artery, which supplies important parts of the brain. When it is compressed, the coordination of movements is disturbed, the woman may lose her balance, her vision and hearing deteriorate, and the risk of stroke increases.

ReferenceAccording to statistics, most cervical osteochondrosis is detected in patients aged 25-40. This is due to a massive reduction in physical activity and sedentary work. Women are diagnosed with this disease more often than men because they have more fragile vertebrae and thinner bone tissue.

Doctors distinguish 4 stages of osteochondrosis of the spine:

  • Stage 1- the intervertebral disc loses some moisture, its height decreases, cracks may form in the fibrous ring (outer shell). This is the stage of cervical chondrosis, which is difficult to identify because it has unexpressed symptoms. The neck gets tired quickly, there is discomfort and heaviness in the injured area, sometimes there are mild pains that pass quickly.
  • Stage 2- cracks increase on the surface of the disc, nucleus pulposus (gel-like contents of the disc) slips and can come out of the damaged areas. This is how protrusions of the cartilage lining, which can compress the spinal cord and its roots, look like this. Severe pain, weakness, limited mobility appear from time to time, numbness may occur in the face, neck, shoulders and arms.
  • Stage 3- the protrusion breaks the outer shell of the disc and forms a hernia. Pain becomes more pronounced, there are neurological disorders.
  • Stage 4- the disc is almost completely destroyed, the vertebrae rub against each other, and bone growths (osteophytes) designed to stabilize the damaged segment appear on their edges. Nerve endings, spinal cord and blood vessels are damaged. Adjacent joints begin to suffer. Clinical signs are pronounced.

It is easiest to stop degenerative-dystrophic changes in the first two stages of osteochondrosis of the spine. Comprehensive treatment in stage 3 will help stop further destruction of the spinal segment. At the last stage, surgical intervention cannot be avoided.


Osteochondrosis of the spine is a complex and long-lasting process, and in most cases there are several causes. In most cases, the pathology occurs due to a sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition and metabolic disorders. Often, the disease occurs due to injury or the natural aging of the body and the weakening of its defenses.

Doctors identify the main causes of osteochondrosis of the spine in women:

  • Disruption of metabolic processes.
  • Passive lifestyle.
  • Genetic predisposition.
  • Chronic muscle tension around the cervical segment.
  • Violation of posture.
  • Lack of fluids and nutrients in the body.
  • Staying in an uncomfortable position for a long time (the neck is stretched forward and the back is bent).
  • Excessive weight.
  • Wearing high heels often.
  • SHOP injuries.
  • Lifting heavy objects.
  • Autoimmune pathologies.
  • Frequent stress, chronic fatigue.
  • Hypothermia.
  • Infectious diseases.
  • Neck too long or short etc.

All these factors lead to insufficient nutrition of the intervertebral discs and cause their degeneration.

Female cervical osteochondrosis can cause pathologies of the vertebral artery associated with genetic predisposition, intrauterine disorders and injuries during childbirth. The disease can occur due to rheumatism, endocrine disorders, overload in the cervical segment during pregnancy and local overload.

Important.The main cause of cervical osteochondrosis in women is menopause, as well as changes related to this period. At this stage, the concentration of progesterone in the body decreases, which is very important for bone tissue. The possibility of degenerative changes is associated with age-related weakening of neck muscles and weakening of vertebral support in this area.


Osteochondrosis is characterized by a wave-like course, when the acute period is replaced by remission. Exacerbation can be caused by infections, injuries, hypothermia and prolonged stress on the neck.

With cervical osteochondrosis, the pain spreads to the shoulder

The first symptoms of cervical osteochondrosis in women are headache, anxiety and heaviness in the neck. It is important to distinguish pain due to chondrosis from migraine or autonomic dysfunction.

Clinical manifestations of osteochondrosis of the spine in women are caused by neurological syndromes:

  • Cervical discalgia occurs when the nerve endings are irritated by pieces of the damaged cartilage lining. Then a special crisis appears in the neck, the pain is more pronounced when moving the head and after sleep.
  • Scalenus syndrome is the result of damage to the vessels and nerves of the brachial plexus and subclavian artery. This symptom complex is accompanied by pain from the inner surface of the shoulder from the injured side to the hand. The limb becomes pale, cold, swollen and numb. When the patient turns his head, the pain in the neck extends to the back of the head.
  • Humeral periarthrosis syndrome - dystrophic changes affect the tendon fibers surrounding the shoulder. Painful sensations from the neck spread to the shoulder and shoulder girdle. There is a mandatory position of the neck - bent to the affected side, and the shoulder is slightly lowered.
  • Vertebral artery syndrome - the blood vessel is compressed by fragments of the damaged disc or osteophytes (depending on the stage of the disease). The patient feels dizzy and has a headache, nausea, sometimes vomiting. The pain is localized in the back of the head, crown and temples.
  • The heart - nerve bundles of the spinal cord are damaged. Heart pain and arrhythmia occur. If C3 is damaged, pain appears in the middle of the neck, the tongue swells, and the patient cannot chew food normally. If C4 is injured, discomfort appears in the shoulder girdle, collarbone, and heart region. When C5 is affected, the pain response from the neck spreads to the shoulder girdle, the inner surface of the shoulder. C6 irritation causes pain from the neck and shoulder blade to the shoulder girdle and radiates to the thumb of the entire arm. If C7 is damaged, the pain syndrome spreads behind the shoulder girdle, affecting the whole hand, including the index and middle fingers. When C8 is compressed, the pain radiates from the affected area to the elbow and little finger.

Also, a woman's emotional sphere may be disturbed, weakness may appear, she becomes anxious and sensitive. Insomnia often occurs, memory and attention are weakened due to regular headaches.

Symptoms of a cerebrovascular accident occur when a woman suddenly throws her head back, bends over, or performs tasks that put stress on her arms and cervical spine, such as drilling, painting a ceiling, or carrying heavy objects.

Weak cerebral circulation is manifested by dizziness, unsteady gait, spots before the eyes, tinnitus, weakness and nausea. In some patients, the voice is muffled, sometimes disappears, sore throat appears.

During menopause, osteochondrosis is accompanied by migraines and increased body sweating in the area between the neck and shoulder girdle. When the vertebral artery is compressed, the activity of the cardiovascular system is disturbed.

If the disease continues for a long time, circulatory failure occurs in important centers that perform neuroendocrine functions. Atherosclerosis of the brain and heart vessels develops due to the increased permeability of the vascular walls.

Establishing a diagnosis

If you notice signs of osteochondrosis, go to a therapist. After a visual examination, the specialist will refer you to an orthopedist, vertebrologist or neurologist.

The following methods are used to diagnose cervical osteochondrosis:

  • X-ray examination shows that the patient's vertebrae are displaced, there are osteophytes on their edges, the distance between the vertebrae is reduced, etc. The doctor takes target photographs to detail the characteristic changes.
  • CT examination of the cervical spine provides detailed information about pathological changes in the vertebrae. This method allows obtaining three-dimensional images for more detailed research, is used in difficult diagnostic cases.
  • MRI is used to accurately assess the condition of soft tissues (nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, muscles) in the affected area.
  • Electromyography allows to check the conductivity of the nerve fiber.

Doctors may also order an ultrasound (Doppler ultrasound of the main arteries of the brain) to determine the state of blood flow in this area.

Conservative treatment

Treatment of osteochondrosis of the spine in women in the early stages can be carried out at home. But the doctor must design the treatment regimen. It is important to understand that this is a long process, and it is unlikely that complete recovery will be possible (especially for older women).

Complex treatment includes:

  • Take medicine.
  • Use of orthopedic devices.
  • Physiotherapy.
  • Physiotherapy procedures.
  • Massage, manual effect.
  • Alternative treatment methods.

Conservative methods help to relieve pain, inflammation, normalize muscle tone, improve metabolic processes, nourish damaged segments of the spine, etc. Timely therapy will help stop pathological changes.

Medicines for cervical osteochondrosis will help relieve inflammation and pain

Treatment of cervical osteochondrosis in women is carried out with the use of drugs that will help improve the metabolism of the cartilage pads between the vertebrae, relieve inflammation and pain. For this purpose, the following drugs are used:

  • NSAIDs. They will help relieve mild to moderate inflammation and pain.
  • Analgesics. Relieves pain.
  • Medicines that improve cerebral circulation.
  • Muscle relaxants help relieve muscle spasms.
  • Chondroprotectors. They help to stop the destruction of discs, improve metabolic processes and speed up recovery.
  • Medicines based on magnesium.
  • Nootropics. They stimulate the work of the brain by normalizing blood circulation and have a mild sedative effect.

ReferenceFor severe pain that is not relieved by oral medications, for example, therapeutic blockades with an anesthetic solution or NSAIDs are used.

Treatment can be completed with anti-inflammatory and pain relievers in the form of gels, creams and ointments. They will be effective in remission or in combination with oral medications.

The decision on the choice of drug combinations is made by the doctor. The specialist will draw up the drug regimen, as well as determine their dosage. It is important to follow his recommendations, because many of the drugs described above can cause dangerous complications.

In the acute stage of osteochondrosis of the spine, a woman should refrain from heavy physical activity. To relax the cervical segment, it is necessary to wear a special corset (Schants collar) that will fix the vertebrae in the correct position. This device is recommended for use during prolonged sitting or heavy physical work.

Physiotherapy procedures will help relieve pain and improve blood circulation in the injured area:

  • Diadynamic therapy.
  • Magnetotherapy.
  • Electrophoresis with anesthetic, glucocorticosteroid, proteolytic agent.
  • Electroanalgesia.
  • Ultraviolet radiation, etc.

The therapeutic effect appears after about the third session, then headaches, hearing and vision disorders, dizziness weaken or disappear, sleep becomes normal and the general condition improves.

Using underwater stretching of the cervical segment, you can expand the distance between the vertebrae, release the nerve or blood vessel from compression, and restore the normal position of the vertebrae.

Massage will normalize muscle tone and reduce the flow of lymphatic fluid that causes swelling. After a few sessions, blood circulation in the damaged area improves.

Therapeutic exercises are an effective method for treating cervical osteochondrosis

Therapeutic gymnastics is one of the most effective methods of treating osteochondrosis of the spine. Exercise therapy allows you to strengthen weak neck muscles, which will then take some of the load off the spine and help stop or slow down degenerative changes. During exercise, blood circulation improves, metabolic processes and disc nutrition accelerate, which has a positive effect on their condition.

Women should exercise every day. They consist of simple but effective exercises. It consists of complex turns, bending of the head in different directions, as well as neck movements in which the arms are used. These elements can be performed at home, but only after the doctor's permission. Physical therapy is carried out only in the phase of remission.

Complex treatment includes reflexology (acupuncture), hirudotherapy (leech treatment), swimming, etc. can be completed with


The operation is prescribed in the final stages of osteochondrosis of the spinal cord, which is accompanied by severe destruction of osteochondral structures. Also, if conservative methods are ineffective or the spinal canal is significantly narrowed, surgical intervention cannot be avoided.

In the above cases, anterior cervical discectomy is performed. During the procedure, the doctor immobilizes the damaged segment of the spine and removes the hernia that is compressing the spinal nerve. Then the vertebrae from which the disc was removed are fused. If necessary, the space between the vertebrae is filled with a synthetic insert (cage).

After 3-5 days, the patient is discharged home. The rehabilitation period is about 12 weeks. To speed up recovery, you need to take medicine, wear a corset, lead a healthy lifestyle, go to physiotherapeutic procedures and, as a result, do exercise therapy.

Lifestyle recommendations

To quickly get rid of the unpleasant symptoms of osteochondrosis and stop degenerative-dystrophic changes in the cervical segment, you should adjust your lifestyle. For this, the patient should follow these recommendations:

  • Go for a walk every day, avoid running, jumping and other explosive activities.
  • Do not carry heavy objects.
  • You can't sit for a long time, wear a corset in extreme cases and take a horizontal position from time to time.
  • Do special physical exercises for back muscles at home.
  • Sleep on an orthopedic mattress and a special pillow.
  • Diet, fill your diet with foods rich in magnesium, calcium (nuts, dairy products, seafood, legumes), as well as plant fiber, chondroitin (jelly meat, jelly). Avoid fatty, fried, highly salty foods and alcohol. Your doctor will provide you with more detailed information about dietary guidelines. But it should be right anyway.

Hypothermia should not be allowed, warming will be useful if there is no inflammatory process.


In the absence of timely treatment for cervical osteochondrosis, a woman may experience the following consequences of the pathology:

  • The possibility of a protrusion that turns into a hernia after a while. The protrusion compresses the spinal cord as well as nerves, causing neurological disorders.
  • Osteophytes appear when the disc is severely damaged and irritates the spinal nerves and blood vessels.
  • In advanced cases, severe weakening of the neck muscles or incomplete paralysis is possible, then the head hangs involuntarily to the side or forward.
  • Compression of vertebral arteries, impaired blood circulation in the affected area. This condition can cause neuralgia (pain along the nerve), hearing and vision problems.
  • Paralysis of hands (incomplete or complete).
  • Stroke etc.

If a woman solves this issue in the early stages of osteochondrosis of the spinal cord, she will be able to prevent the conditions described above.

Preventive measures

Ideally, prevention of osteochondrosis of the spine should be carried out during intrauterine development. The future mother should exclude factors that negatively affect the development of the fetus: infections, oxygen starvation, intoxication. If there is a birth injury, the newborn should be treated.

To reduce the likelihood of developing osteochondrosis of the spine, a woman should follow these recommendations:

  • Load your spine evenly, for example, carry a load in both hands or alternately with your right, then your left.
  • Do not lift too much weight on your head.
  • Try to avoid neck injuries and hypothermia.
  • When working in garden areas, take a break every 1. 5 hours and lie down to rest for 20 minutes.
  • Choose shoes with flexible soles that will cushion the impact when running or jumping.
  • Use a high-backed chair with a headrest or wear a corset when sitting for long periods of time.

It is also important to eat properly, control weight, avoid stress, take vitamin supplements for medical reasons, and treat pathologies that can cause osteochondrosis in time. During the remission phase, it is recommended to visit sanatoriums for a course of treatment.

The most important

As you can see, osteochondrosis of the cervical spine occurs more often in women than in men, because the former have more fragile vertebrae and thin bone tissue. Postmenopausal patients are particularly sensitive to pathology. The disease is manifested by pain, neurological disorders, as well as dangerous symptoms of a cerebrovascular accident. In order to avoid dangerous complications of osteochondrosis, it is recommended to start treatment at an early stage. For this, a woman should take medicine, adjust her lifestyle, participate in physiotherapeutic procedures, massage, physical therapy, etc. Surgical treatment is indicated only in advanced cases. To prevent pathology, you need to continue moderate physical activity, timely treat injuries and diseases that can provoke osteochondrosis, etc.