European Spine Journal

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 263–269 | Cite as

The bothersomeness of sciatica: patients’ self-report of paresthesia, weakness and leg pain

  • Lars GrøvleEmail author
  • Anne Julsrud Haugen
  • Anne Keller
  • Bård Natvig
  • Jens Ivar Brox
  • Margreth Grotle
Original Article


The objective of the study was to investigate how patients with sciatica due to disc herniation rate the bothersomeness of paresthesia and weakness as compared to leg pain, and how these symptoms are associated with socio-demographic and clinical characteristics. A cross-sectional study was conducted on 411 patients with clinical signs of radiculopathy. Items from the Sciatica Bothersomeness Index (0 = none to 6 = extremely) were used to establish values for paresthesia, weakness and leg pain. Associations with socio-demographic and clinical variables were analyzed by multiple linear regression. Mean scores (SD) were 4.5 (1.5) for leg pain, 3.4 (1.8) for paresthesia and 2.6 (2.0) for weakness. Women reported higher levels of bothersomeness for all three symptoms with mean scores approximately 10% higher than men. In the multivariate models, more severe symptoms were associated with lower physical function and higher emotional distress. Muscular paresis explained 19% of the variability in self-reported weakness, sensory findings explained 10% of the variability in paresthesia, and straight leg raising test explained 9% of the variability in leg pain. In addition to leg pain, paresthesia and weakness should be assessed when measuring symptom severity in sciatica.


Sciatica Disc herniation Lumbosacral radicular syndrome Neuromuscular manifestations Pain measurement 



We thank Eli Molde Hagen, Dag Soldal, Knut Morten Huneide, Anett Bjørnødegård and Bjarte Justnæs for their help with the data collection and Leiv Sandvik for statistical advice.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lars Grøvle
    • 1
    • 8
    Email author
  • Anne Julsrud Haugen
    • 1
  • Anne Keller
    • 2
  • Bård Natvig
    • 3
    • 7
  • Jens Ivar Brox
    • 4
    • 5
  • Margreth Grotle
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of RheumatologyØstfold Hospital TrustFredrikstadNorway
  2. 2.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationUllevaal University HospitalOsloNorway
  3. 3.Section of Occupational Health and Social Insurance Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of General Practice and Community HealthUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  4. 4.Section for Back Surgery and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Orthopaedic DepartmentRikshospitalet University HospitalOsloNorway
  5. 5.Unifob HealthUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  6. 6.FORMI (Communication Unit for Musculoskeletal Disorders), Division for Neuroscience and Musculoskeletal MedicineUllevaal University HospitalOsloNorway
  7. 7.National Resource Centre for Rehabilitation in RheumatologyDiakonhjemmet HospitalOsloNorway
  8. 8.Revmatologisk avdeling, Sykehuset ØstfoldFredrikstadNorway

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