A Comprehensive Review Of Cluneal Neuralgia As A Cause Of Lower Back Pain

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Book Review

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Orthopedic Reviews


Lower back pain (LBP) is one of the most common presenting complaints in clinical adult medical patients. While most often diagnosed as “nonspecific mechanical” in etiology, several lesser known, rarer causes of LBP exist, some of which can even cause neuropathic pain. One of these infrequent causes, cluneal neuralgia (CN), is associated most often with damage or entrapment of the cluneal nerves, particularly the superior cluneal nerve (SCN) and/or the middle cluneal nerve (MCN). These nerves supply sensation to the posterior lumbar and buttock area. However, the LBP caused by CN is often difficult to recognize because it can mimic radiculopathy or sacroiliac joint (SIJ) pain or lead to symptoms in the legs. This makes CN significantly important for clinicians and surgeons to include in their differential. A thorough history proves beneficial in the diagnostic workup, as many risk factors for CN have been reported in the literature. If a CN diagnosis is made, several effective conservative measures can alleviate patients’ pain, such as nerve blocks, peripheral nerve stimulation, or high frequency thermal coagulation. Additionally, surgical treatments, such as CN release or endoscopic decompression, have resulted in fantastic patient outcomes. The purpose of the present investigation is to investigate the existing literature about CN as a cause for LBP, consider its epidemiology, discuss its pathophysiology and risk factors, elucidate its clinical presentation and diagnosis, and examine the various treatment modalities that have been reported across the world.

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