A study published in Spine recently compared the outcome of anterior cervical decompression and fusion combined with a structured physiotherapy program to the same program without surgery for patients with cervical radiculopathy.
The 63 patients were randomized to undergo surgery and the physiotherapy program or just the physiotherapy program. The researchers found:
• No significant difference for Neck Disability Index between the groups
• No significant difference for pain intensity
• 87 percent of patients in the surgical group rated symptoms as much better during the 12-month follow-up
• 62 percent of patients in the non-surgical group reported symptoms as better or much better during the 12-month follow up
• Both groups experienced significant reduction in the Neck Disability Index, neck pain and arm pain compared with baseline
The researchers concluded that the surgical group experienced more rapid recovery in the first year, but the difference between the groups decreased after two years.