Cervical radiculopathy treated with chiropractic flexion distraction manipulation: A retrospective study in a private practice setting

J Manipulative Physiol Ther. Nov-Dec 2003;26(9):E19. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2003.08.009.


Background: Although flexion distraction performed to the lumbar spine is commonly utilized and documented as effective, flexion distraction manipulation performed to the cervical spine has not been adequately studied.

Objective: To objectively quantify data from the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) to support the clinical judgment exercised for the use of flexion distraction manipulation to treat cervical radiculopathy.Design and setting A retrospective analysis of the files of 39 patients from a private chiropractic clinic that met diagnostic criteria for inclusion. All patients were diagnosed with cervical radiculopathy and treated by a single practitioner with flexion distraction manipulation and some form of adjunctive physical medicine modality. Main outcome measures The VAS was used to objectively quantify pain. Of the 39 files reviewed, 22 contained an initial and posttreatment VAS score and were therefore utilized in this study.

Results: This study revealed a statistically significant reduction in pain as quantified by visual analogue scores. The mean number of treatments required was 13.2 +/- 8.2, with a range of 6 to 37. Only 3 persons required more treatments than the mean plus 1 standard deviation.

Conclusion: The results of this study show promise for chiropractic and manual therapy techniques such as flexion distraction, as well as demonstrating that other, larger research studies must be performed for cervical radiculopathy.

MeSH terms

  • Back Pain / etiology*
  • Back Pain / rehabilitation
  • Cervical Vertebrae / physiopathology*
  • Chiropractic / standards
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manipulation, Chiropractic / methods*
  • Manipulation, Chiropractic / standards
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Radiculopathy / physiopathology
  • Radiculopathy / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome