Is it possible to cure cervical osteochondrosis?

How to cure 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 lead to a variety of complications. For these diseases, the question of effective therapy is extremely relevant.

Osteochondrosis of the cervical spine

A patient with signs of cervical osteochondrosis during a doctor's consultation

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

Imagine an intervertebral disc. It consists of an inner soft tissue - the nucleus pulposus - and an outer shell - the fibrous capsule. This gives the soft tissue a certain shape so that the core fulfills its shock-absorbing function.

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

  1. A defect occurs under the influence of harmful factors.
  2. The soft core of the intervertebral disc penetrates through it - a protrusion of the intervertebral discs is created.
  3. As the process progresses, part of the nucleus falls out - a herniated disc occurs.

All of these processes result in inflammation of the surrounding tissue. 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 locations is the neck. Is it possible to cure osteochondrosis of the cervical spine?

Treatment options

If we understand the essence of the disease and the mechanism of its development, we can assume what methods can completely and permanently cure the patient from this disease.

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

Osteochondrosis is caused by a variety of risk factors for the disease. It is impossible to influence it if the disease already exists. However, preventive measures are aimed specifically at eliminating the causes.

Many treatment methods may have a pathogenetic effect, and we will try to figure it out in each of the methods proposed by modern medicine.

The symptomatic effect is also very important. The entire course of therapy prescribed by the attending physician should always have an impact on the manifestations of the disease, because during therapy it is necessary to alleviate the patient's health condition.

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

  • Drug exposure.
  • Orthopedic products.
  • Physical therapy.
  • Physiotherapy, massage, manual therapy.
  • Spinal surgeries.
  • Radiofrequency ablation.

A few words still need to be said about prevention, which allows you to avoid the occurrence of the disease altogether.

Drug therapy

Medicines for the treatment of cervical osteochondrosis

Not all medications that a doctor prescribes for osteochondrosis help get rid of it. Many medications perform a purely symptomatic function:

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

Nevertheless, several drugs have a pathogenetic effect. First of all, chondroprotectors should be mentioned. These drugs are used only in the first stages of osteochondrosis, when there is no herniated disc yet. They slow down the degeneration process and prevent the formation of protrusions. It must be taken for a long time and constantly, but the therapeutic effect will be quite great.

B vitamins – these drugs have no effect on the degeneration process itself and do not help cure osteochondrosis. However, their use in reflex or compression syndromes is very important. Vitamins support metabolism in nerve tissue and prevent nerves from dying.

Therefore, among all medications, only chondroprotectors prescribed in a timely manner will help get rid of cervical osteochondrosis.

Orthopedic products

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

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

For cervical osteochondrosis, collars are most often used, but there are other types of orthopedic aids. These products effectively eliminate pain, which is beyond doubt. However, can they influence the course of the disease?

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

  1. Corsets and collars have a compression effect - they put pressure on a specific part of the spine. This prevents the occurrence of protrusions and hernias, that is, the development of complications.
  2. Orthopedic devices always separate the vertebrae from each other in a vertical plane. This helps relieve pressure from the nerve roots and the discs themselves.
  3. If there are existing protrusions or degenerative changes, the corset will not help to eliminate them. However, with regular use, the remedy helps not to remember the manifestations of the disease.

The listed properties should be taken into account not only by the doctor, but also by the patient so as not to expect too much from the use of bandages.

physical therapy

With cervical osteochondrosis, it is necessary to perform therapeutic exercises

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

Osteochondrosis is no exception. For diseases of the cervical spine, physical activity has the following healing effects:

  1. Exercises help eliminate pain, reflex muscle spasms and compression effects on the vertebral artery and other vessels. This means that regular exercise can reduce the need for symptomatic therapy.
  2. Exercises help to shape the muscular corset of the cervical spine. Trained muscles hold internal structures, including bones and cartilage, and prevent protrusions from forming.
  3. Degenerative changes in the intervertebral disc occur under the influence of excessive, incorrect load or lack thereof. Correct exercises prevent the degenerative process and activate blood circulation in the area of the intervertebral discs.

Although many patients know about the positive effects of exercise, they shy away from doing the exercises. Start training with a specialist and then implement it into your everyday life. Soon you will no longer be able to imagine your day without exercise and a set of useful exercises.

Physiotherapy and massage

Massage helps to relieve tension in the neck muscles affected by osteochondrosis.

Quite controversial treatment methods are physiotherapy and massage. These methods certainly help alleviate some of the symptoms of the disease. A neck massage will help eliminate muscle spasms, and physiotherapy will relieve inflammation and pain, preventing the occurrence of compression syndrome.

But can these methods cure cervical osteochondrosis? The pathogenetic effect is achieved only as part of complex treatment. Physiotherapy and massage should be used together with physiotherapy and the use of medication. The effects of different treatment methods reinforce each other:

  1. Electrophoresis and phonophoresis help medications reach the spine.
  2. Manual therapy relaxes the muscles after long periods of training.
  3. Acupuncture and electromyostimulation combined with exercise therapy create a strong muscle corset and eliminate pain.

Examples of the combined effect of different therapy methods can be listed further.

We should also not forget that all methods of physiotherapy and massage increase local blood circulation and therefore metabolism in damaged tissue. As a result, degenerative processes slow down or come to a complete standstill.

Surgical treatment

A herniated disc in the cervical spine may require surgery.

In some cases, disc disease can only be eliminated through surgery. This method also cannot be considered an etiological treatment - the surgeon does not address the cause of the disease, but eliminates its consequences. However, in the presence of local osteochondrosis, surgery can help permanently eliminate the symptoms.

There are various methods of surgical intervention, but most can be boiled down to two options:

  1. Intervertebral disc plastic surgery with palliative measures. During the operation, all complications of the disease are also eliminated.
  2. Prosthetics of the intervertebral cartilage or replacement of the entire movement segment of the vertebrae with a prosthesis.

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

You should also think about the need for postoperative rehabilitation. Many of the therapy methods mentioned above help restore performance. It is convenient to combine them during sanatorium treatment.

Radiofrequency ablation

Radiofrequency ablation is one of the methods for treating cervical osteochondrosis

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

The essence of the procedure is as follows:

  • A special electrode is attached to the damaged intervertebral disc through a needle puncture.
  • The disc is heat treated with electricity.
  • In the area of impact, the nerves and the intervertebral disc tissue itself are destroyed.
  • After ablation, the intervertebral disc remains between the vertebrae. It is not able to perform a shock-absorbing function, but does not cause pathological symptoms.

The advantages of the method are the absence of general anesthesia, the short duration of the procedure and quick recovery. The technique can be used as a first stage of treatment if symptoms have not been completely relieved.

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


Prevention of cervical osteochondrosis through physical activity and proper nutrition

From the above, we can conclude that all modern methods of treatment only help prevent the progression of cervical osteochondrosis or eliminate its manifestations only on a specific intervertebral disc. There is a high probability of the disease recurring and spreading to adjacent cartilage layers.

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

If the disease has just begun to bother you, has appeared in many relatives, or you have been treated for osteochondrosis, follow these tips:

  1. Normalize physical activity, especially of the spine and neck. Do preventive exercises, go swimming, skiing. Don't let your neck remain stationary for long periods of time.
  2. Eat properly. A balanced diet without harmful foods that contains enough protein and calcium helps prevent the disease.
  3. Eliminate bad habits that can cause a degenerative process. This is primarily smoking and frequent alcohol consumption.
  4. Use orthopedic aids and the right mattresses when sleeping to avoid additional strain on the cervical spine.
  5. If you have diseases or injuries to the spine, be sure to use orthopedic products.

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