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Manual therapy in cervical and lumbar radiculopathy: a systematic review of the literature
Kuligowski T, Skrzek A, Cieslik B
International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health 2021 Jun;18(11):6176
systematic review

The aim of this study was to describe and update current knowledge of manual therapy accuracy in treating cervical and lumbar radiculopathy, to identify the limitations in current studies, and to suggest areas for future research. The study was conducted according to PRISMA guidelines for systematic reviews. A comprehensive literature review was conducted using PubMed and Web of Science databases up to April 2020. The following inclusion criteria were used: (1) presence of radiculopathy; (2) treatment defined as manual therapy (ie, traction, manipulation, mobilization); and (3) publication defined as a randomized controlled trial. The electronic literature search resulted in 473 potentially relevant articles. Finally, 27 articles were accepted: 21 on cervical (CR) and 6 in lumbar radiculopathy (LR). The mean PEDro score for CR was 6.6 (SD 1.3), and for LR 6.7 (SD 1.6). Traction-oriented techniques are the most frequently chosen treatment form for CR and are efficient in reducing pain and improving functional outcomes. In LR, each of the included publications used a different form of manual therapy, which makes it challenging to summarize knowledge in this group. Of included publications, 93% were either of moderate or low quality, which indicates that quality improvement is necessary for this type of research.

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