Cervical spondylosis incidence varies with age. Population-based magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies show nearly 100% of adults aged >40 years have severe degeneration of at least 1 cervical level (commonly C5/6). However, only a subset of patients present with axial neck pain, and patients are usually asymptomatic even though cervical radiographs and MRI may show severe, spontaneous degenerative disease.
The estimated incidence of degenerative cervical myelopathy is at least 41 per million people in North America. In one study, 59% of individuals ages >40 years had signs of cervical cord compression on MRI. However, only 1% to 2% of patients with cervical spondylosis proceed to surgical intervention, as nonoperative treatments suffice in most patients.
The incidence of cervical spine radiculopathy ranged from 0.832 to 1.79 per 1000 in one systematic review.
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