Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Science
DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy)
Session and Year of Graduation
Laura Frey Law
Background: Cervical radiculopathy is a common neurological disorder. Patients with cervical radiculopathy typically present with neck or arm pain, sensory changes, weakness in the upper extremities, or a combination of the above. Currently, there is a lack of evidence demonstrating the evolution of symptoms in patients with cervical radiculopathy, both in those who undergo conservative or surgical treatment. The purpose of this case report was to describe the acute post-operative phase for a complicated patient case in which both surgical and physical therapy interventions were used in the management of the patient’s evolving cervical radiculopathy symptoms. Case Description: The patient was a 56-year-old female who reported to physical therapy status-post C5-C6 anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). Within one month of her first surgery, she underwent a second surgery, ACDF C5-C7, due to the persistence of symptoms. She returned to physical therapy following her second surgery. Intervention: The patient reported to physical therapy for three weeks after her first surgery and for four weeks after her second surgery. Treatment focused on strengthening, stabilization, range of motion (ROM), and pain management. Outcome Measures: At seven weeks post-operatively, the patient was pain-free, demonstrated full active cervical rotation ROM bilaterally, but continued to have difficulty with left overhead shoulder mobility, secondary to feelings of stiffness. She was still attending physical therapy two times per week to improve this deficit. Discussion: This case demonstrates how symptoms in patients with cervical radiculopathy can present and evolve differently, which requires an individualized treatment approach. Therefore, studying these patients is challenging. Little evidence exists regarding the most effective management of patients with cervical radiculopathy who have undergone a combination of surgical and physical therapy management. Case reports can help assist with the development of effective treatment approaches in these patients.
Cervical radiculopathy; physical therapy; rehabilitation; orthopedics;
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