Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of cervical osteochondrosis 1 degree

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

Cervical osteochondrosis on x-ray

Features of cervical osteochondrosis 1 degree

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine of the 1st degree is often detected by chance - when diagnosing other pathologies, not even related to the musculoskeletal system. But sometimes the patient himself comes to see the doctor, alarmed by the deterioration in general well-being. Indeed, despite the absence of pronounced symptoms of osteochondrosis, the intervertebral discs have already undergone degenerative changes:

  • cartilaginous tissues have become denser and enlarged;
  • radial cracks appeared on the fibrous rings.

The loss of elasticity and elasticity of the intervertebral discs worsened their cushioning properties. Due to their inability to fully mitigate the load on the vertebrae, there is still slight instability of the cervical spine. But even a slight displacement of cartilaginous or bone structures becomes a prerequisite for the further 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 overexertion due to a long stay of the body in one position. Gradually, the intensity of pain in the back of the neck increases.

Periodic, aching and still mild 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. Shoulder-scapular pain syndrome develops, which becomes the first specific sign of cervical osteochondrosis. At the initial stage of development, pathology can be clinically manifested as follows:

  • restriction of mobility in the neck. When tilting or turning the head, stiffness of movements is felt, not accompanied by 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;
  • headaches, dizziness become more frequent, visual acuity decreases for a short time.
  • Headaches and dizziness are common signs of cervical osteochondrosis

Cervical osteochondrosis of the 1st degree may be indicated by attacks of acute, piercing, shooting pain. They usually occur with a sharp turn of the head. This is how the increased tone of the neck muscles is manifested. 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 based on the patient's complaints and a series of tests to determine the mobility of the cervical segments. Previous trauma or systemic pathologies of the musculoskeletal system (gout, rheumatoid, reactive arthritis) are a clue.

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

Radiographic stages of cervical osteochondrosis 1 degree Characteristic signs
Stage 1 Minor changes in the curvature of the spine in the cervical spine, affecting one or more segments
Stage 2 Slight thickening of the intervertebral discs, deformation of the uncinate processes, straightening of lordosis, slight growth of bone structures
Manifestations of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine on x-ray

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


Treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine of the 1st degree is long-term. At the initial stage of development, pathology lends itself well to conservative therapy. Patients are prescribed medications, physiotherapy and massage procedures are recommended.

Massage of the cervical collar zone with cervical osteochondrosis

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

Pharmacological preparations

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

  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs;
  • locally irritating, distracting, warming agents.

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

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

Drug-free treatment

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 eliminate the increased tone of the neck muscles.

Laser treatment of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

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

  • classical;
  • point;
  • vacuum.

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

Manual techniques for the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis

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

Underwater traction of the spine with cervical osteochondrosis

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

The first physical therapy classes (kinesitherapy) are carried out under the guidance of an exercise therapy doctor. He 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 sooner the therapy is carried out, the greater the likelihood of full restoration of the functional activity of the spinal column.