Faculty Advisor(s)

Michael Fillyaw

Document Type

Course Paper

Publication Date



© 2018 Robin McGuire


Background and Purpose: Low back pain is the most common health problem among older adults resulting in pain and disability. Lumbar radiculopathy is a disabling condition causing low back pain that radiates into the lower extremity along the sensory distribution of the spinal nerve root. The purpose of this case report is to describe a comprehensive physical therapy plan for a patient with chronic low back pain and lumbar radiculopathy that included: therapeutic exercises using directional preference, interferential current, and manual traction. Case Description: The patient was a 60-year-old male with lumbar radiculopathy due to nerve root compression. He presented with left sided low back that radiated into the anterior left hip while bending over and getting in and out of bed. His goal was to reduce pain with daily activities. The outcome measures included the Patient Specific Functional Scale, Oswestry Disability Scale, and the Numeric Pain Rating Scale. Interventions included manual traction, interferential current, and therapeutic exercise using the patient’s directional preference for a period of 6 weeks. Outcomes: After 14 days of a variety of interventions, the patient’s ODI score improved from 60% to 54%. The patient increased his tolerance for walking from five minutes with 5-6/10 pain to 15 minutes with a 5-6/10 pain. Discussion: This case report explored a variety of evidence based interventions for a patient with chronic low back pain and lumbar radiculopathy. Given the patient’s history of multiple joint replacements and negative prognostic factors, the patient was unable to meet his PT goals. Future research should explore the impact of central sensitization and mental health on persistent/chronic pain, guiding physical therapists in the management of chronic musculoskeletal conditions.


The case report poster for this paper can be found here:




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