C5-C6 spondylosis describes spine degeneration that develops in the space between the fifth and sixth vertebrae in the cervical spine. The term “spondylosis” is a general term used to describe normal, age-related spine degeneration and the subsequent presence of related conditions and symptoms. However, it needs to be understood that it is not a condition itself. C5-C6 spondylosis refers to the general deterioration of the spinal anatomy, whereas conditions like a herniated disc, spinal stenosis or osteoarthritis more precisely describe the origin of the neck pain. This is an important distinction because treatment for these conditions varies widely, so simply describing the source of pain as spondylosis isn’t necessarily helpful when managing discomfort.
As we grow older, the spine naturally begins to degenerate. The intervertebral discs that cushion the spine dry out and tear, the facet joints that connect adjacent vertebrae become arthritic and bone spurs develop in the spinal column. This is normal and largely unavoidable. In the neck, a physician may describe this degeneration as C5-C6 spondylosis, which is to say the spinal anatomy at the fifth and sixth levels of the cervical spine is deteriorating. This observation can be helpful when tracing the source of neck or neuropathic pain, but should not be considered a diagnosis of the problem. This is because the presence of spinal degeneration does not necessarily lead to pain. Instead, treatment of the patient’s discomfort is contingent on specifically identifying the source of discomfort.
Some of the most common sources of neck pain include:
- Degenerative disc disease
- The presence of osteophytes (bone spurs)
- Facet disease (spinal osteoarthritis)
- Spinal stenosis
- Injury or muscle strain
Once the source of your neck pain is determined, your physician will attempt to manage your pain and address the condition non-surgically, if possible. Heat therapy, pain medication, gentle stretching and exercise are all usually effective treatments for nerve compression caused by C5-C6 spondylosis. In the event that your pain persists through several weeks of treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how one of our minimally invasive procedures may be able to provide you with the pain relief you require.