Background: Little is known about the course of lumbosacral radiculopathy and its rate of persistence or recurrence. We therefore investigated what proportion of patients with acute lumbosacral radiculopathy undergo surgery or have persistent complaints in the long term. We also investigated prognostic factors for surgery and/or recurrent symptoms and complaints. Methods: In this long-term follow-up of patients with symptoms of acute lumbosacral radiculopathy in general practice, patients were invited to participate in a telephone interview about 3 years after the start of the study. Prognostic factors were determined by means of univariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis. Results: Of 135 eligible patients, 96 (71.1%) participated in the study. Seven patients underwent surgery, all during the first year. At 3-year follow-up, about one third of the patients reported experiencing "leg symptoms in the past week", and almost all patients reported having new episodes of back pain. More than half of the patients reported new episodes of leg pain. Fifty-seven patients (59.3%) had recurrent symptoms and 4 (4.2%) patients had persistent symptoms. Heavy labour and functional disability at baseline were associated with persistent symptoms, and pain severity at baseline was predictive of future surgery. Conclusions: Many patients with acute lumbosacral radiculopathy experienced recurrent symptoms during this 3-year follow-up study, and seven patients (5.2%) underwent surgery within a year of symptom onset.

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Journal Huisarts en Wetenschap
Hordijk, J, Luijsterburg, P.A.J, Koes, B.W, & Verhagen, A.P. (2010). Prognostic factors for lumbosacral radiculopathy. Huisarts en Wetenschap, 53(9), 474–478. Retrieved from