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Influence of age on symptoms and signs in lumbar disc herniation


In a prospective and consecutive study we evaluated the prevalence of pain-related symptoms, the results of the strainght leg raising (SLR) test and neurological disturbances by age group in a total of 150 patients operated on due to lumbar disc herniation. On admission, all patients were interviewed, and pain at rest, at night and on coughing was recorded. Walking capacity was recorded under four categories:1–5 km, 0.5<1 km and<0.5 km. Results of the SLR test were also registered as category data: positive 0–30°, positive 30–60°, positive >60° or negative. Findings from examination of tendon reflexes and power of the extensor hallucis longus (EHL) muscle were registered, as were sensory disturbances. The above mentioned parameters were analysed separtely for five different age groups: 20–29 years, 30–39 years, 40–49 years, 50–59 years and above 60 years of age. There was an age-related change in the prevalence of certain parameters. Highly restricted positive SLR test results and pain on coughing was most commonly found in the youngest patient group. With increasing age there was a decreasing prevalence of highly restricted positive SLR test results, while the prevalence of severe reduction of walking capacity increased. In short, the youngest patient group showed the most obvious clinical picture of disc herniation and, with increasing age, the clinical picture gradually changed towards the picture associated with spinal stenosis.

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Correspondence to B. Jönsson.

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Jönsson, B., Strömqvist, B. Influence of age on symptoms and signs in lumbar disc herniation. Eur Spine J 4, 202–205 (1995).

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Key words

  • Lumbar disc herniation
  • Sciatica
  • Interver tebral disc
  • Lumbar spine