Objective: To test the hypothesis that improvement of cervical lordosis in cervical spondylotic radiculopathy (CSR) will improve cervical spine flexion and extension end range of motion kinematics in a population suffering from CSR.
Methods: Thirty chronic lower CSR patients with cervical lordosis < 25° were included. IRB approval and informed consent were obtained. Patients were assigned randomly into two equal groups, study (SG) and control (CG). Both groups received stretching exercises and infrared; the SG received 3-point bending cervical extension traction. Treatments were applied 3 × per week for 10 weeks, care was terminated and subjects were evaluated at 3 intervals: baseline, 30 visits, and 3-month follow-up. Radiographic neutral lateral cervical absolute rotation angle (ARA C2-C7) and cervical segmental (C2-C7 segments) rotational and translational flexion-extension kinematics analysis were measured for all patients at the three intervals. The outcome were analyzed using repeated measures one-way ANOVA. Tukey's post-hoc multiple comparisons was implemented when necessary. Pearson correlation between ARA and segmental translational and rotational displacements was determined.
Results: Both groups demonstrated statistically significant increases in segmental motion at the 10-week follow up; but only the SG group showed a statistically significant increase in cervical lordosis (p < 0.0001). At 3-month follow up, only the SG improvements in segmental rotation and translation were maintained.
Conclusion: Improved lordosis in the study group was associated with significant improvement in the translational and rotational motions of the lower cervical spine. This finding provides objective evidence that cervical flexion/extension is partially dependent on the posture and sagittal curve orientation. These findings are in agreement with several other reports in the literature; whereas ours is the first post treatment analysis identifying this relationship.
Keywords: Cervical spine; flexion and extension; lordosis; spondylotic radiculopathy; traction.