Management of cervical spondylotic radiculopathy: a systematic review

Review written by Dr Julia Treleaven info

Key Points

  1. Surgical intervention was found to be superior to conservative management of cervical spondylotic radiculopathy for pain in the short and long-term.
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Cervical spondylotic radiculopathy (CSR) is a relatively common and self-limiting condition (1-3). However, moderate to severe neck and arm pain, paraesthesia, and restricted range of neck movement presents significant personal disability (2).

Treatment can range from conservative management (including cervical collars, manual therapy, exercise, traction, pain management education, and medications) through to surgery. The disadvantages of surgery are significant costs and risks (1). Conservative treatment is thus the preferred option, but recent advances in less invasive surgical techniques and short versus long-term benefits of surgical versus conservative interventions has not been considered to date.

This paper was a systematic review of the literature to evaluate the short and long-term effects of specific methods of surgery versus conservative treatments for CSR.

Cervical spondylotic radiculopathy is a relatively common and self-limiting condition.
In those with severe pain and a desire to return to work quickly, surgery may have a higher benefit for pain reduction in the short-term.


  • To be included in this review, studies were only considered if they were a randomized controlled trial considering conservative compared to surgical management of patients with diagnosed CSR. The comparison intervention could also be a combination of surgical and conservative
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