Musculoskeletal Disorders in Referrals for Suspected Lumbosacral Radiculopathy

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Cannon DE, Dillingham TR, Miao H, Andary MT, Pezzin LE: Musculoskeletal disorders in referrals for suspected lumbosacral radiculopathy. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 2007;86:957–961.Objective:An electrodiagnostic evaluation is often requested for patients with suspected lumbosacral radiculopathy. Although musculoskeletal disorders can produce lower-limb symptoms, their prevalence in this referral population is unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of common lower-limb musculoskeletal disorders in patients referred for lower-limb electrodiagnosis and determine whether these findings predict study outcome.Design:Subjects undergoing an electrodiagnostic study for lower-limb symptoms and suspected lumbosacral radiculopathy constituted the sample. A standardized clinical and electrodiagnostic evaluation was performed for all patients.Results:There were 170 subjects included. The mean age was 52 (SD = 17), and 45% were males. The total prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders in the sample was 32%. The prevalence in those with a normal study was 55% as compared with 21% in those with lumbosacral radiculopathy (P < 0.0001).Conclusions:Musculoskeletal disorders are common in patients suspected of having lumbosacral radiculopathy. The high prevalence among both patients with normal studies and those with radiculopathy and other disorders limits the usefulness of this information in predicting study outcome. In particular, it is common for patients to have two or more problems and the presence of a musculoskeletal disorder should not preclude such testing.

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