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Papers of the Week

Papers: 27 May 2023 - 2 Jun 2023

Commentary/Perspective, Education, Resource

Human Studies

Neuropathic Pain

2023 May 25



Recommendations for terminology and the identification of neuropathic pain in people with spine-related leg pain. Outcomes from the NeuPSIG working group.


Schmid AB, Tampin B, Baron R, Finnerup NB, Hansson P, Hietaharju A, Konstantinou K, Lin CC, Markman J, Price C, Smith BH, Slater H


Pain radiating from the spine into the leg is commonly referred to as “sciatica,” “Sciatica” may include various conditions such as radicular pain or painful radiculopathy. It may be associated with significant consequences for the person living with the condition, imposing a reduced quality of life and substantial direct and indirect costs. The main challenges associated with a diagnosis of “sciatica” include those related to the inconsistent use of terminology for the diagnostic labels and the identification of neuropathic pain. These challenges hinder collective clinical and scientific understanding regarding these conditions. In this position paper, we describe the outcome of a working group commissioned by the Neuropathic Pain Special Interest Group (NeuPSIG) of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) which was tasked with the following objectives: (1) to revise the use of terminology for classifying spine-related leg pain and (2) to propose a way forward on the identification of neuropathic pain in the context of spine-related leg pain. The panel recommended discouraging the term “sciatica” for use in clinical practice and research without further specification of what it entails. The term “spine-related leg pain” is proposed as an umbrella term to include the case definitions of somatic referred pain and radicular pain with and without radiculopathy. The panel proposed an adaptation of the neuropathic pain grading system in the context of spine-related leg pain to facilitate the identification of neuropathic pain and initiation of specific management in this patient population.