Objective: Nerve palpation is a method of clinically identifying mechanosensitivity of neural tissue by means of pressure algometry and manual palpation. There are few investigations of the reliability of lower limb nerve palpation, and femoral nerve palpation has never been previously reported. The aim of this study was to investigate the reliability of nerve palpation of the femoral, sciatic, tibial, and common peroneal nerves and to report normative values for the femoral nerve.
Methods: The 4 lower limb nerves were palpated in 39 healthy volunteers using pressure algometry and manual digital palpation. Measurements were taken twice by 1 rater (intrarater reliability) and once by a second rater (interrater reliability).
Results: Intraclass correlation coefficients for pressure pain thresholds (PPTs) via pressure algometry of the femoral, common peroneal, tibial, and sciatic nerves were 0.69, 0.84, 0.64, and 0.9 for intrarater reliability, respectively, and 0.82, 0.7, 0.56, and 0.75 for interrater reliability. κ Values for manual palpation were 0.59, 0.55, 0.42, and 0.60 for intrarater reliability and 0.30, 0.49, 0.37, and 0.60 for interrater reliability. Males demonstrated significantly higher PPTs than females for the femoral, sciatic, and tibial nerves, and differences in PPTs were present between right and left sides.
Conclusion: Nerve palpation of the femoral, common peroneal, and sciatic nerves using pressure algometry demonstrated good to excellent reliability, whereas the tibial nerve PPTs showed moderate to good reliability. Manual palpation measurements demonstrated fair to moderate reliability.
This abstract is reproduced with the permission of the publisher; full text is available by subscription. Click on the above link and select a publisher from PubMed’s LinkOut feature.