Recommendations for diagnosis and treatment of lumbosacral radicular pain: A systematic review of clinical practice guidelines

Ahmad Khoshal Khorami, Crystian B. Oliveira, Christopher G. Maher, Patrick J.E. Bindels, Gustavo C. Machado, Rafael Z. Pinto, Bart W. Koes, Alessandro Chiarotto*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)


The management of patients with lumbosacral radicular pain (LRP) is of primary importance to healthcare professionals. This study aimed to: identify international clinical practice guidelines on LRP, assess their methodological quality, and summarize their diagnostic and therapeutic recommendations. A systematic search was performed (August 2019) in MEDLINE, PEDro, National Guideline Clearinghouse, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), New Zealand Guidelines Group (NZGG), International Guideline Library, Guideline central, and Google Scholar. Guidelines presenting recommendations on diagnosis and/or treatment of adult patients with LRP were included. Two independent reviewers selected eligible guidelines, evaluated quality with Appraisal of Guidelines Research & Evaluation (AGREE) II, and extracted recommendations. Recommendations were classified into ‘should do’, ‘could do’, ‘do not do’, or ‘uncertain’; their consistency was labelled as ‘consistent’, ‘common’, or ‘inconsistent’. Twenty‐three guidelines of varying quality (AGREE II overall assessment ranging from 17% to 92%) were included. Consistent recommendations regarding diagnosis are (‘should do’): Straight leg raise (SLR) test, crossed SLR test, mapping pain distribution, gait assessment, congruence of signs and symptoms. Routine use of imaging is consistently not recommended. The following therapeutic options are consistently recommended (‘should do’): educational care, physical activity, discectomy under specific circumstances (e.g., failure of conservative treatment). Referral to a specialist is recommended when conservative therapy fails or when steppage gait is present. These recommendations provide a clear overview of the management options in patients with LRP.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2482
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2021

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