Title

Manual physical therapy, cervical traction, and strengthening exercises in patients with cervical radiculopathy: A case series

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2005

Abstract

Study Design: A case series of consecutive patients with cervical radiculopathy. Background: A multitude of physical therapy interventions have been proposed to be effective in the management of cervical radiculopathy. However, outcome studies using consistent treatment approaches on a well-defined sample of patients are lacking. The purpose of this case series is to describe the outcomes of a consecutive series of patients presenting to physical therapy with cervical radiculopathy and managed with the use of manual physical therapy, cervical traction, and strengthening exercises. Case Description: Eleven consecutive patients (mean age, 51.7 years; SD, 8.2) who presented with cervical radiculopathy on the initial examination were treated with a standardized approach, including manual physical therapy, cervical traction, and strengthening exercises of the deep neck flexors and scapulothoracic muscles. At the initial evaluation all patients completed self-report measures of pain and function, including a numeric pain rating scale (NPRS), the Neck Disability Index (NDI), and the Patient-Specific Functional Scale (PSFS). All patients again completed the outcome measures, in addition to the global rating of change (GROC), at the time of discharge from therapy and at a 6-month follow-up session. Outcomes: Ten of the 11 patients (91%) demonstrated a clinically meaningful improvement in pain and function following a mean of 7.1 (SD, 1.5) physical therapy visits and at the 6-month follow-up. Discussion: Ninety-one percent (10 of 11) of patients with cervical radiculopathy in this case series improved, as defined by the patients classifying their level of improvement as at least "quite a bit better" on the GROC. However, because a cause-and-effect relationship cannot be inferred from a case series, follow-up randomized clinical trials should be performed to further investigate the effectiveness of manual physical therapy, cervical traction, and strengthening exercises in a homogeneous group of patients with cervical radiculopathy.

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