Neck-Related Physical Function, Self-Efficacy, and Coping Strategies in Patients With Cervical Radiculopathy: A Randomized Clinical Trial of Postoperative Physiotherapy

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Abstract

Objective

The purpose of this study was to compare postoperative rehabilitation with structured physiotherapy to the standard approach in patients with cervical radiculopathy (CR) in a prospective randomized study at 6 months follow-up based on measures of neck-related physical function, self-efficacy, and coping strategies.

Methods

Patients with persistent CR and scheduled for surgery (N = 202) were randomly assigned to structured postoperative physiotherapy or a standard postoperative approach. Structured postoperative physiotherapy combined neck-specific exercises with a behavioral approach. Baseline, 3-month, and 6-month evaluations included questionnaires and clinical examinations. Neck muscle endurance, active cervical range of motion, self-efficacy, pain catastrophizing (CSQ-CAT), perceived control over pain, and ability to decrease pain were analyzed for between-group differences using complete case and per-protocol approaches.

Results

No between-group difference was reported at the 6-month follow-up (P = .05-.99), but all outcomes had improved from baseline (P < .001). Patients undergoing structured postoperative physiotherapy with ≥50% attendance at treatment sessions had larger improvements in CSQ-CAT (P = .04) during the rehabilitation period from 3 to 6 months after surgery compared with the patients who received standard postoperative approach.

Conclusions

No between-group difference was found at 6 months after surgery based on measures of neck-related physical function, self-efficacy, and coping strategies. However, the results confirm that neck-specific exercises are tolerated by patients with CR after surgery and may suggest a benefit from combining surgery with structured postoperative physiotherapy for patients with CR.

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