Differential diagnosis and management of an older runner with an atypical neurodynamic presentation: a case for clinical reasoning.
STUDY DESIGN: Case Report. BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The purpose of this case report is to describe the clinical reasoning process involved with the differential diagnosis and management of a 69 year-old male runner reporting a six month history of insidious onset of left sided low back and buttock pain of low to medium degree of irritability. The case presented describes the utilization of clinical reasoning by a clinician in fellowship training when a patient with atypical adverse neurodynamic dysfunction related to running was encountered. CASE DESCRIPTION: The patient's physical examination was relatively unremarkable. Assessment of the patient's subjective history, self-report measures [Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), global rating of change scale (GROC)], objective findings, and tests and measures led to a working diagnosis of atypical adverse peripheral neurodynamic dysfunction. The lumbar spine, sacroiliac joint, hip joint and lower extremity were ruled out by a comprehensive subjective and objective examination. The diagnosis of adverse neurodynamic dysfunction became a diagnosis of exclusion. OUTCOMES: Returning two and a half weeks after initial evaluation the patient reported no pain with running. Twelve weeks after the initiation of physical therapy, the patient was contacted via email. He was sent, and asked to fill out an ODI. The patient demonstrated an improvement in ODI from 10% to 2%. He also reported that he continued to run after treatment without pain. DISCUSSION: Determining the source of a patient complaint can occasionally be an arduous undertaking. Pathological sources of a patient's symptoms may not be easily determined. Development of differential diagnosis and clinical reasoning skills is imperative. Improving clinical reasoning skills requires deliberate practice through reflective thinking before, during, and after patient interactions. Refinement of these skills leads to the primary goal of identifying the patient's clinical presentation, thus matching it with the most effective treatment approach. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level 4.
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