Study design: Case series.
Objective: To describe the clinical outcomes of 15 patients with cervical radiculopathy treated with mechanical intermittent cervical traction.
Background: Effectiveness of traction for the treatment of cervical spinal syndromes is controversial and the outcome of this treatment has not been established in the literature.
Methods and measures: Fifteen patients (45.5 +/- 13 years) completed a course of treatment using mechanical intermittent cervical traction. Eleven patients presented at baseline with radicular symptoms of 12 weeks duration or less, and 4 patients had long-standing radicular symptoms lasting more than 12 weeks. Outcome was measured using the Neck Disability Index (NDI) and the Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NPRS).
Results: Eight of the 15 cases (53%) in this series demonstrated complete pain resolution; these patients had symptom duration of 12 weeks and less. Seven of these 8 cases displayed a final NDI of 10% or less. Three out of 4 of the patients with symptom duration more [corrected] than 12 weeks showed no reduction in pain or increased pain rating, with minimal change in perceived disability of 12% or less.
Conclusion: In this case series, patients with radicular symptoms lasting for 12 weeks and less demonstrated a reduction in pain and perceived disability. The NDI, when used in conjunction with the NPRS, provides a more comprehensive assessment of the patient with cervical radiculopathy, thus allowing the clinician to make a better judgment about the clinical effects of cervical traction.