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J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2013 Jun;43(6):379-91. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2013.4490. Epub 2013 Apr 30.

Baseline characteristics of patients with nerve-related neck and arm pain predict the likely response to neural tissue management.

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Division of Physiotherapy and National Health and Medical Research Council Centre of Clinical Research Excellence in Spinal Pain, Injury and Health, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.



Planned secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial comparing neural tissue management (NTM) to advice to remain active.


To develop a model that predicts the likelihood of patient-reported improvement following NTM.


Matching patients to an intervention they are likely to benefit from potentially improves outcomes. However, baseline characteristics that predict patients' responses to NTM are unknown.


Data came from 60 consecutive adults who had nontraumatic, nerve-related neck and unilateral arm pain for at least 4 weeks. Participants were assigned to a group that received NTM (n = 40), which involved brief education, manual therapy, and nerve gliding exercises for 4 treatments over 2 weeks, or to a group that was given advice to remain active (n = 20), which involved instruction to continue their usual activities. The participants' global rating of change at a 3- to 4-week follow-up defined improvement. Penalized regression of NTM data identified the best prediction model. A medical nomogram was created for prediction model scoring. Post hoc analysis determined whether the model predicted a specific response to NTM.


Absence of neuropathic pain qualities, older age, and smaller deficits in median nerve neurodynamic test range of motion predicted improvement. Prediction model cutoffs increased the likelihood of improvement from 53% to 90% (95% confidence interval: 56%, 98%) or decreased the likelihood of improvement to 9% (95% confidence interval: 1%, 42%). The model did not predict the outcomes of the advice to remain active group.


Baseline characteristics of patients with nerve-related neck and arm pain predicted the likelihood of improvement with NTM. Model performance needs to be validated in a new sample using different comparison interventions and longer follow-up. Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN 12610000446066).


Prognosis, level 2b-.

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