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Physiother Res Int. 2004;9(4):164-73.

Physiotherapy and spinal nerve root adhesion: a caution.

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Hillcrest Longway Bank, Nr Matlock, Derbyshire, UK.



The term 'spinal neuropathic pain' has been coined to describe the chronic neuropathic pain that results when spinal nerve roots are aggravated by scar tissue. (It is different from the pain of spinal cord injury.) Such patients have longstanding back and radicular pain (nerve root pain, predominantly in the limbs) caused by scar or inflammatory tissue around the nerve roots. The pathology of such patients' pain means that special consideration needs to be given to the fact that such adhesions compromise nerve biomechanics and that movement generates additional pain. Patients with such spinal neuropathic pain often do not do well from conventional physiotherapy. Exacerbation (flare-up) frequently follows the exercise routines in common practice.


Individual patient experience was collected from an internet support group, and the results were tabulated.


All patients considered stretching, flexing and strenuous exercise to be harmful. A few reported that gentle exercise with instruction not to cause pain was beneficial. Some patients received advice not to do physiotherapy once they had been diagnosed with arachnoiditis.


The treatment of patients with spinal neuropathic pain warrants special consideration as far as physiotherapy is concerned: patients should only be prescribed gentle, individually tailored exercise. It is hoped the present small study will promote understanding and the development of better therapy.

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