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Daub, WC. (2007) 'A case report of a patient with upper extremity symptoms: differentiating radicular and referred pain', Chiropr Osteopat.2007 Jul 19;15:10.

Chiropr Osteopat.2007 Jul 19;15:10.

A case report of a patient with upper extremity symptoms: differentiating radicular and referred pain

C W Daub


Background: Similar upper extremity symptoms can present with varied physiologic etiologies. However, due to the multifaceted nature of musculoskeletal conditions, a definitive diagnosis using physical examination and advanced testing is not always possible. This report discusses the diagnosis and case management of a patient with two episodes of similar upper extremity symptoms of different etiologies. Case presentation: On two separate occasions a forty-four year old female patient presented to a chiropractic office with a chief complaint of insidious right-sided upper extremity symptoms. During each episode she reported similar pain and parasthesias from her neck and shoulder to her lateral forearm and hand. During the first episode the patient was diagnosed with a cervical radiculopathy. Conservative treatment, including manual cervical traction, spinal manipulation and neuromobilization, was initiated and resolved the symptoms. Approximately eighteen months later the patient again experienced a severe acute flare-up of the upper extremity symptoms. Although the subjective complaint was similar, it was determined that the pain generator of this episode was an active trigger point of the infraspinatus muscle. A diagnosis of myofascial referred pain was made and a protocol of manual trigger point therapy and functional postural rehabilitative exercises improved the condition. Conclusion: In this case a thorough physical evaluation was able to differentiate between radicular and referred pain. By accurately identifying the pain generating structures, the appropriate rehabilitative protocol was prescribed and led to a successful outcome for each condition. Conservative manual therapy and rehabilitative exercises may be an effective treatment for certain cases of cervical radiculopathy and myofascial referred pain.

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