Open Access Study protocol

Neck-specific training with a cognitive behavioural approach compared with prescribed physical activity in patients with cervical radiculopathy: a protocol of a prospective randomised clinical trial

Åsa Dedering12*, Marie Halvorsen12, Joshua Cleland3, Mikael Svensson45 and Anneli Peolsson6

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physical Therapy, Karolinska University Hospital, 171 76 Stockholm, Sweden

2 Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Division of Physiotherapy, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

3 Franklin Pierce University, Denver, USA

4 Department of Department of Clinical NeuroscienceKarolinska Instiutet, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

5 Department of Neurosurgery, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden

6 Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Stockholm, Sweden

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2014, 15:274  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-274

Published: 12 August 2014



Patients with cervical radiculopathy often have neck- and arm pain, neurological changes, activity limitations and difficulties in returning to work. Most patients are not candidates for surgery but are often treated with different conservative approaches and may be sick-listed for long periods. The purpose of the current study is to compare the effectiveness of neck-specific training versus prescribed physical activity.


The current protocol is a two armed intervention randomised clinical trial comparing the outcomes of patients receiving neck specific training or prescribed physical activity. A total of 144 patients with cervical radiculopathy will be randomly allocated to either of the two interventions. The interventions will be delivered by experienced physiotherapists and last 14 weeks. The primary outcome variable is neck- and arm pain intensity measured with a Visual Analogue Scale accompanied with secondary outcome measures of impairments and subjective health measurements collected before intervention and at 3, 6, 12 and 24 months after base-line assessment.


We anticipate that the results of this study will provide evidence to support recommendations as to the effectiveness of conservative interventions for patients with cervical radiculopathy.

Trial registration identifier: NCT01831271

Cervical radiculopathy; Conservative interventions; Neck pain; Outcome; Physical activity; Randomisation; Study protocol