A recent study is helping to strengthen the argument that mechanical traction can lead to greater improvements than exercise alone in patients with cervical radiculopathy.
In a study (abstract only available for free) in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 86 patients with cervical radiculopathy were divided into 3 treatment groups: exercise alone, exercise and use of an over-the-door home traction device, and exercise and mechanical traction delivered at clinic sessions. Participants reported on pain and movement at 4 weeks, 6 months, and 12 months after completion of the program.
Authors of the study wrote that the results "more strongly favored the effectiveness of cervical traction delivered in supine using a motorized device than prior studies" that may have been affected by patient selection and other factors. At all reporting intervals, patients who underwent mechanical traction reported lower scores on neck disability, neck pain intensity, and arm pain intensity, with "particularly notable" improvements at the later follow-ups.
Although patients who were assigned the in-home over-the-door traction device in addition to exercise tended to fare better than the exercise-only group, the improvements still lagged behind the mechanical traction group. Researchers described the differences as "an interesting result considering the patients provided the home unit could continue using the device beyond the study treatment period while those receiving mechanical traction could not."
Looking for more evidence-based research? Visit PTNow for access to the information you need, including clinical practice guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of cervical radiculopathy from degenerative disorders.
American Physical Therapy Association | 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-1488 703/684-APTA (2782) | 800/999-2782 | 703/683-6748 (TDD) | 703/684-7343 (fax)
Contact Us | For Advertisers & Exhibitors | For Media | Follow APTA
All contents © 2014 American Physical Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved.