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Are tender points associated with cervical radiculopathy?

OBJECTIVE: To determine if there is an association between cervical radiculopathy and tender spots in the neck and upper extremity on the side of radiculopathy.

DESIGN: Prospective cross-sectional study.

SETTING: Outpatient spine clinic within an academic institution.

PARTICIPANTS: Convenience sample of 16 subjects with unilateral cervical radiculopathy. Twelve subjects had C7 radiculopathy and 4 had C6 or C8 radiculopathy.

INTERVENTION: Bilateral pain-pressure threshold measurement (14 muscles) of the neck and upper extremity.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Side-to-side difference in pain-pressure threshold.

RESULTS: Differences in frequency of tender spots were found only in the deltoid and flexor carpi radialis. Overall, more tender spots were found on the side of radiculopathy (75 vs 34, P < .01). Among subjects with C7 radiculopathy, the number of tender spots in C7 innervated muscles was greater on the side of radiculopathy (23 vs 7, P < .02). In contrast, no significant difference in the number of tender spots between sides was found when only non-C7 innervated muscles (P > 0.1) were considered.

CONCLUSIONS: Cervical radiculopathy was associated with increased tender spots on the side of radiculopathy, with predilection toward muscles innervated by the involved nerve root.

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