Study Design: Systematic review. Objectives: The objective of this study was to conduct a systematic review to determine (1) change in function, pain, and quality of life following structured nonoperative treatment for degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM); (2) variability of change in function, pain, and quality of life following different types of structured nonoperative treatment; (3) differences in outcomes observed between certain subgroups (eg, baseline severity score, duration of symptoms); and (4) negative outcomes and harms resulting from structured nonoperative treatment. Methods: A systematic search was conducted in Embase, PubMed, and the Cochrane Collaboration for articles published between January 1, 1950, and February 9, 2015. Studies were included if they evaluated outcomes following structured nonoperative treatment, including therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, cervical bracing, and/or traction. The quality of each study was evaluated using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale, and strength of the overall body of evidence was rated using guidelines outlined by the Grading of Recommendation Assessment, Development and Evaluation Working Group. Results: Of the 570 retrieved citations, 8 met inclusion criteria and were summarized in this review. Based on our results, there is very low evidence to suggest that structured nonoperative treatment for DCM results in either a positive or negative change in function as evaluated by the Japanese Orthopaedic Association score. Conclusion: There is a lack of evidence to determine the role of nonoperative treatment in patients with DCM. However, in the majority of studies, patients did not achieve clinically significant gains in function following structured nonoperative treatment. Furthermore, 23% to 54% of patients managed nonoperatively subsequently underwent surgical treatment.
- cervical spondylotic myelopathy
- degenerative cervical myelopathy
- nonoperative treatment
- systematic review