How is radiating leg pain defined in randomized controlled trials of conservative treatments in primary care? A systematic review

C. W C Lin*, A. J H Verwoerd, C. G. Maher, A. P. Verhagen, R. Z. Pinto, P. A J Luijsterburg, M. J. Hancock

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Many terms exist to describe radiating leg pain or symptoms associated with back pain (e.g., sciatica or radiculopathy) and it appears that these terms are used inconsistently. We examined the terms used to describe, and the eligibility criteria used to define, radiating leg pain in randomized controlled trials of conservative treatments, and evaluated how the eligibility criteria compared to an international pain taxonomy. Eligible studies were identified from two systematic reviews and an updated search of their search strategy. Studies were included if they recruited adults with radiating leg pain associated with back pain. Two independent reviewers screened the studies and extracted data. Studies were grouped according to the terms used to describe radiating leg pain. Thirty-one of the seventy-seven included studies used multiple terms to describe radiating leg pain; the most commonly used terms were sciatica (60 studies) and disc herniation (19 studies). Most studies that used the term sciatica included pain distribution in the eligibility criteria, but studies were inconsistent in including signs (e.g., neurological deficits) and imaging findings. Similarly, studies that used other terms to describe radiating leg pain used inconsistent eligibility criteria between studies and to the pain taxonomy, except that positive imaging findings were required for almost all studies that used disc herniation to describe radiating leg pain. In view of the varying terms to describe, and eligibility criteria to define, radiating leg pain, consensus needs to be reached for each of communication and comparison between studies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)455-464
    Number of pages10
    JournalEuropean Journal of Pain (United Kingdom)
    Volume18
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

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