C5–C6 spondylosis

C5–C6 spondylosis describes spine degeneration that develops in the space between the fifth and sixth vertebrae in the cervical (upper) spine in the neck. The term spondylosis is a general term used to describe normal, age-related spine degeneration and the 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, where 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 helpful when managing discomfort.

Spinal deterioration

As we age, the spine naturally begins to degenerate. The spinal discs that act as cushions for the vertebrae dry out and can tear, while the joints that connect vertebrae become arthritic and bone spurs develop in the spinal column. This process is normal and largely unavoidable. In the neck, a physician may describe this degeneration as C5–C6 spondylosis, meaning parts at the fifth and sixth levels of the cervical spine are deteriorating. This can be helpful when tracing the source of local or traveling pain, but should not be considered a diagnosis of the problem, because the presence of spinal degeneration does not necessarily lead to pain. Instead, treatment of the patient’s discomfort is depends on finding the source of discomfort.

Some of the most common sources of neck pain include:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • The presence of bone spurs
  • Spinal osteoarthritis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis (slipping of vertebrae)
  • 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 conservative treatment, however, 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. Our minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures are often the clinically appropriate surgical first choice over traditional open back surgery provide many advantages such as fewer risks and faster recovery times.