A systematic review of the symptomatic management of Lhermitte's phenomenon

Lydia Lam, Samuel Koopowitz, Alexandra Thompson, Georgia Smith, Sheryn Tan, Aashray Gupta, Joshua Kovoor, Adil Harroud, Stephen Bacchi, Mark Slee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Lhermitte's phenomenon (LP) is a transient shock-like sensation that radiates down the spine into the extremities, usually with neck flexion. The potential efficacy and tolerability of various symptomatic therapies in the management of LP have not been systematically reviewed previously. 

Method: A systematic review was conducted using PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library from inception to August 2022 for peer-reviewed articles describing the treatment of patients with Lhermitte's phenomenon. The review adheres to the PRISMA guidelines and was registered on PROSPERO. 

Results: This systematic review included sixty-six articles, which included 450 patients with LP. Treatment of the underlying cause varied by aetiology. Whilst LP is most commonly considered in the context of structural pathology of the cervical cord, medication-induced LP was a common theme in the literature. The most common cause of medication-induced LP was platinum-based chemotherapy agents such as cisplatin and oxaliplatin. In medication-induced LP, symptoms typically resolved with cessation of the causative agent. Non-pharmacological treatment options were associated with mild-moderate symptomatic improvement. The most commonly used agents to treat patients with LP were carbamazepine and gabapentin, which resulted in variable degrees of symptomatic benefit. 

Conclusions: No randomised studies currently exist to support the use of symptomatic therapies to treat LP. Observational data suggest that some therapies may yield a symptomatic benefit in the management of LP. However, this systematic review identified a significant paucity of evidence in the literature, which suggests that further controlled studies are needed to investigate the optimal management of this common neurologic phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-36
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
Early online date19 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Carbamazepine
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Myelitis
  • Pain
  • Symptomatic


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