European Spine Journal

, Volume 22, Issue 11, pp 2488–2495 | Cite as

The prognosis of self-reported paresthesia and weakness in disc-related sciatica

  • L. GrøvleEmail author
  • A. J. Haugen
  • B. Natvig
  • J. I. Brox
  • M. Grotle
Original Article



To explore how patients with sciatica rate the ‘bothersomeness’ of paresthesia (tingling and numbness) and weakness as compared with leg pain during 2 years of follow-up.


Observational cohort study including 380 patients with sciatica and lumbar disc herniation referred to secondary care. Using the Sciatica Bothersomeness Index paresthesia, weakness and leg pain were rated on a scale from 0 to 6. A symptom score of 4–6 was defined as bothersome.


Along with leg pain, the bothersomeness of paresthesia and weakness both improved during follow-up. Those who received surgery (n = 121) reported larger improvements in both symptoms than did those who were treated without surgery. At 2 years, 18.2 % of the patients reported bothersome paresthesia, 16.6 % reported bothersome leg pain, and 11.5 % reported bothersome weakness. Among patients with no or little leg pain, 6.7 % reported bothersome paresthesia and 5.1 % bothersome weakness.


During 2 years of follow-up, patients considered paresthesia more bothersome than weakness. At 2 years, the percentage of patients who reported bothersome paresthesia was similar to the percentage who reported bothersome leg pain. Based on patients’ self-report, paresthesia and weakness are relevant aspects of disc-related sciatica.


Sciatica Lumbosacral radicular syndrome Paresthesia Weakness Neuromuscular manifestations 



Funding for this study was received from the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority; no support was received from commercial sources. We thank Anne Keller, Eli Molde Hagen, Dag Soldal, Knut Morten Huneide, Anett Bjørnødegard Hångmann, and Bjarte Justnæs for their help with collecting data and Professor Leiv Sandvik for statistical advice.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Grøvle
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. J. Haugen
    • 1
  • B. Natvig
    • 2
  • J. I. Brox
    • 3
  • M. Grotle
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of RheumatologySykehuset Østfold Hospital TrustFredrikstadNorway
  2. 2.Department of General Practice Institute of Health and SocietyUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  3. 3.Section for Back Surgery, Orthopaedic DepartmentOslo University Hospital RikshospitaletOsloNorway
  4. 4.FORMI (Communication Unit for Musculoskeletal Disorders), Division of NeuroscienceOslo University Hospital, UllevålOsloNorway
  5. 5.Department of Rheumatology, National Resource Centre for Rehabilitation in RheumatologyDiakonhjemmet HospitalOsloNorway

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