Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2002 Aug;83(8):1171-2
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School, Newark 07103, USA.
Regional patterns of motor or sensory loss are considered indicators of a behavioral component to the complaints of an injured worker. This assumption may lead to a discounting of signs and symptoms with premature return to work and discharge from care. We present the case of a 25-year-old airline baggage handler with an 8-month history of unresolved neck and shoulder complaints who had been returned to work after a lack of objective findings on physical examination. On physiatric evaluation, his unusual pattern of insensitivity to pinprick led to prompt magnetic resonance imaging that revealed a focus of increased intramedullary signal at C6 consistent with a syrinx. This case report shows the importance of a detailed neuromuscular examination coupled with appropriate diagnostic imaging in the assessment of individuals with regional sensory or motor loss so as not to miss more serious spinal cord pathology.