Effect of manual therapy with exercise in patients with chronic cervical radiculopathy: a randomized clinical trial

Trials. 2021 Oct 18;22(1):716. doi: 10.1186/s13063-021-05690-y.


Background: Research that has examined the effects of cervical spine mobilization on hypoesthesia and hypersensitivity characteristics in patients with cervical radiculopathy is scarce. The aim of this study was to examine the short-term effects of vertebral mobilization on the sensory features in patients with cervical radiculopathy.

Methods: Twenty-eight participants with chronic cervical radiculopathy were randomly allocated to (1) an experimental group [cervical vertebral mobilization technique and exercise] or (2) a comparison group [minimal superficial circular pressure on the skin and exercise]. Participants received a total of 6 sessions for 3-5 weeks. Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NPRS), Neck Disability Index (NDI), pressure pain threshold (PPT), heat/cold pain threshold (HPT/CPT), and active cervical range of motion (ROM) were measured at baseline immediately after the first session and after the sixth session.

Results: The experimental group showed improvements from baseline to session 6 in NPRS [mean difference 2.6; 95% confidence interval: -4.6, -0.7], NDI [14; -23.3, -4.3], and active cervical ROM in extension [14°; 2.3, 25.5], rotation [16°; 8.8, 22.5], and lateral flexion to the affected side [10°; 2.3, 16.8]. Improvements were also found in PPT at the neck [124 kPa; 57, 191.1] and C7 level at the hand [99 kPa; 3.6, 194.9]. There were no changes in the HPT and CPT at any tested area (P>0.050).

Conclusions: Cervical vertebral mobilization for patients with chronic cervical radiculopathy reduced localized mechanical, but not thermal, pain hypersensitivity.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov ( NCT03328351 ). Registered on November 1, 2017, retrospectively registered.

Keywords: Neck pain; Pain sensitivity; Pain threshold; Physical therapy; Spinal manipulation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Cervical Vertebrae
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Manipulations*
  • Neck Pain / diagnosis
  • Neck Pain / therapy
  • Pain Measurement
  • Radiculopathy* / diagnosis
  • Radiculopathy* / therapy

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03328351