Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of 1st degree cervical osteochondrosis

Grade 1 cervical osteochondrosis is the initial stage of irreversible destructive and degenerative changes in the cartilaginous intervertebral discs and vertebral bones. It is rarely possible to diagnose pathology at an early stage of development, as cervical osteochondrosis may not manifest clinically. Even with X-rays, there are often no characteristic signs of damage to the cartilage structures.

X-ray cervical osteochondrosis

Characteristics of cervical osteochondrosis 1 degree

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine of the 1st degree is often found accidentally - in the diagnosis of other pathologies, not even related to the musculoskeletal system. But sometimes the patient himself comes to the doctor, worried about the deterioration of general well-being. In fact, despite the lack of pronounced symptoms of osteochondrosis, the intervertebral discs have already undergone degenerative changes:

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

The loss of elasticity and resilience of the intervertebral discs impairs their cushioning 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 further rapid progression of osteochondrosis.

Clinical picture

In 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 with fatigue after physical activity or muscle strain due to a long stay of the body in one position. Gradually, the intensity of pain in the back of the neck increases.

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

  • restriction of mobility in the neck. When tilting or turning the head, stiffness of movements is felt, which is not accompanied by the appearance of pain;
  • the sensitivity of the parts of the body innervated by the nerve plexuses common to the cervical region begins to decrease. Reduces the tactility of the shoulders and forearms, less often the hands;
  • Numbness of the upper extremities with cervical osteochondrosis
  • the patient feels a decrease in the muscular strength of the arms;
  • headache, dizziness become more frequent, visual acuity decreases briefly.
  • Headache and dizziness are common signs of cervical osteochondrosis

Grade 1 cervical osteochondrosis may be indicated by attacks of sharp, piercing, shooting 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 area is felt constantly. Vascular, neurological and static signs are present in the clinical picture at the same time. In 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. Indication is a history of previous injuries or systemic pathologies of the musculoskeletal system (gout, rheumatoid, reactive arthritis).

The most informative diagnostic procedure is radiography. Grade 1 pathologies correspond to stage 1 or 2 X-rays. The obtained images 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 vertebrae affecting one or more segments
Stage 2 Slight thickening of the intervertebral discs, deformation of the non-galvanized processes, straightening of the lordosis, slight growth of bone structures
Manifestations of osteochondrosis of the cervical spine on X-rays

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


Treatment of grade 1 cervical osteochondrosis is long-term. In the initial stage of development, the pathology responds well to conservative therapy. Patients are prescribed medication, physiotherapy and massage procedures are recommended.

Massage of the neck collar with cervical osteochondrosis

All methods of treatment are aimed at improving blood circulation in the cervical spine. This avoids the deterioration of intervertebral disc trophism - the main reason for the development of osteochondrosis. And eliminating the deficiency of nutrients and oxygen stimulates the partial regeneration of cartilage tissues.

Pharmacological preparations

Clinically, grade 1 osteochondrosis presents with 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, ant alcohol, red pepper extract, bee venom.

Vertebrologists include systemic chondroprotectors in treatment regimens. The injectable solutions are used for several days. And then the therapeutic effect is fixed by taking pills. The duration of the course of treatment is from several months to 2 years.

Treatment without drugs

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 to 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 visit the massage room regularly. Thanks to the measured mechanical effect on the vertebrae, the spasmodic muscles relax, the blood circulation and microcirculation are improved and the local immunity is strengthened. The following types of massage are used in the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis:

  • classic;
  • point;
  • vacuum.

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

Manual techniques for the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis

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

Underwater spinal traction with cervical osteochondrosis

Regular exercise in medical gymnastics can replace medication, massage and physiotherapy. Performing gymnastic exercises improves blood circulation, strengthens the muscles of the neck, stabilizes the vertebrae and normalizes tissue trophism. Daily training is an excellent prevention of pain and stiffness of movements.

The first hours of physiotherapy (kinesitherapy) are conducted under the guidance of a physician. It shows you how to do the exercises, dosing the load on the discs and vertebrae to avoid compression of the spinal roots. After a few days, the patient can study at home on their own.

The value of timely detection of the disease lies in a favorable prognosis for full recovery. The earlier the therapy is given, the greater the probability of complete recovery of the functional activity of the spine.