Clinical indicators to identify neuropathic pain in low back related leg pain: a modified Delphi study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • Physiotherapy, St Georges Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.


Background: Neuropathic pain (NP) is common in patients presenting with low back related leg pain. Accurate diagnosis of NP is fundamental to ensure appropriate intervention. In the absence of a clear gold standard, expert opinion provides a useful methodology to progress research and clinical practice. The aim of this study was to achieve expert consensus on a list of clinical indicators to identify NP in low back related leg pain. Methods: A modified Delphi method consisting of three rounds was designed in accordance with the Conducting and Reporting Delphi Studies recommendations. Recruitment involved contacting experts directly and through expressions of interest on social media. Experts were identified using pre-defined eligibility criteria. Priori consensus criteria were defined for each round through descriptive statistics. Following completion of round 3 a list of clinical indicators that achieved consensus were generated. Results: Thirty-eight participants were recruited across 11 countries. Thirty-five participants completed round 1 (92.1%), 32 (84.2%) round 2 and 30 (78.9%) round 3. Round 1 identified consensus (Kendall's W coefficient of concordance 0.456; p < 0.001) for 10 clinical indicators out of the original 14, and 9 additional indicators were added to round 2 following content analysis of qualitative data. Round 2 identified consensus (Kendall's W coefficient of concordance 0.749; p < 0.001) for 10 clinical indicators out of 19, and 1 additional indicator was added to round 3. Round 3 identified consensus for 8 indicators (Kendall's W coefficient of concordance 0.648; p < 0.001). Following completion of the third round, an expert derived consensus list of 8 items was generated. Two indicators; pain variously described a burning, electric shock like and/or shooting into leg and pain in association with other neurological symptoms (e.g. pins and needles, numbness, weakness), were found to have complete agreement amongst expert participants. Conclusions: Good agreement was found for the consensus derived list of 8 clinical indicators to identify NP in low back related leg pain. This list of indicators provide some indication of the criteria upon which clinicians can identify a NP component to low back related leg pain; further research is needed for stronger recommendations to be made.


Original languageEnglish
Article number601
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sep 2020


  • Clinical indicators, Delphi, Low back related leg pain, Neuropathic pain