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Nerve pain, tingling sensation, diagnosed as radiculopathy. Kernig sign test positive. Definite sign of meningitis?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2004
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This summer, I began to have nerve pain/ tingling sensation in my right leg. I went to a doctor who diagnosed it as radiculopathy and referred me to a physical therapist. Physical therapy helped some, but now I noticed that I have a different kind of pain. My hamstring spasms in my right leg and I get nerve pain/tingling in that area. I also was looking around online and found the Kernig sign test. I performed it, and I am positive. I would like to know if that is a definite sign of meningitis, or if it is likely just related to my nerve pain.
Posted Sun, 15 Apr 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Sujeet N Charugulla 15 hours later
Hello and thanks for your query.

I shall make an effort to provide you with good professional recommendations specific to your questions.

No, Kernig's sign is not a definite sign of meningitis. It is used as an indicator in prognosis and never for diagnosis. And it would not be helpful if you performed it yourself without a doctor's supervision.

Radiculopathy as you might have realized is a kind of a generalized problem and is not a specific diagnosis. It would be coined when more than 1-2 nerves are affected. Yes, that nerve pain is likely that it is a part of the radiculopathy.

I wonder about the indication of methylphenidate medication in your history. Can you add some info on that. I would like to correlate.

You would need to worry when numbness is continuous or if the pain gets stronger. Else physiotherapy should suffice for now.

Meningitis would need tests for bacteriology to ascertain infection, and requires hospital admission as it is another entity and far far different from the signs of radiculopathy. So, don't worry much on that.

Let me know if I have missed out any other concern in your question.

Yet again, I duly appreciate your query to me, I do hope that you have found something useful to help you and I shall be glad to answer any further apprehensions.


Dr Sujeet N Charugulla, MBBS, MD
Consultant Physician.
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