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Glendale, CA 91206
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Predicting Treatment Results for Cervical Radiculopathy

Posted on: 11/30/1999
Neck pain can be difficult to treat successfully. Neck pain that travels down the arm from pressure on a spinal nerve is called cervical radicuolpathy (CR). In this study, physical therapists look for ways to predict who might get better with treatment for CR.

Baseline testing was done before treatment started. All patients were examined by the physical therapist. They each filled out several surveys about pain, function, and disability. Individual treatment was provided by physical therapists at three different clinics.

Short-term results were measured based on improvement in scores from the tests given before and after intervention. Four factors were identified that might help predict which CR patients would have a successful outcome from treatment. These four variables included:

  • Age (less than 54 years old)
  • Symptoms in nondominant arm
  • No increase in symptoms when looking down
  • Multimodal treatment (traction, strengthening, manual therapy)

    Before this study, there was no evidence to suggest the best practice for patients with CR. This study showed that a multimodal treatment strategy may be needed. Patients who received this intervention in at least half the sessions had the best results.

    Results of this study also confirm conclusions from other studies about age and CR. Patients with CR over the age of 50 are more likely to have poor outcomes compared to younger patients with the same problem.

    Future studies are needed to find out the optimal dose response for this treatment plan. In other words, it remains to be determined the specific frequency, intensity, and duration of each modality required for the best result.

  • References:
    Joshua A. Cleland, PT, PhD, OCS, FAAOMPT, et al. Predictors of Short-Term Outcome in People with a Clinical Diagnosis of Cervical Radiculopathy. In Physical Therapy. December 2007. Vol. 87. No. 12. Pp. 1619-1632.

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