Acute pleurisy mimicking neck pain in a young volleyball player: a case report

Gabriele Giannotta, Virginia Lillo, Matteo Cioeta, Filippo Maselli, Giuseppe Giovannico, John Heick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Patients presenting to direct access physiotherapists may present with a serious pathology that mimics a musculoskeletal condition. Recognition of atypical clinical patterns allows for referral to an appropriate provider when a serious pathology is present. This case report details a patient with a pulmonary pathology who presented to a physiotherapist with a complaint of neck and chest pain following medical consultations. Case Presentation: A 29-year-old amateur volleyball player arrived at the physiotherapist’s clinic five days after experiencing the onset of neck pain. She complained of pain on the right side, which extended to the trapezius, as well as occasional discomfort in the lower lateral and anterior chest. The patient noted that the pain worsened when lying supine or on her left side, and during coughing. After developing symptoms resembling a cold, she sought care at two different emergency clinics where physicians diagnosed seasonal flu and an unrelated muscle strain. Despite treatment, the pain persisted, accompanied by fever and general weakness, disrupting her sleep. Following a review of a medical history and a physical examination, musculoskeletal causes of pain appeared unlikely, prompting consideration of a pulmonary pathology. Referral to a specialist was deemed necessary. Conclusion: This case report highlights the importance of screening for serious pathology in direct access physiotherapy, irrespective of a prior physician consultation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhysiotherapy Theory and Practice
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Case report
  • neck pain
  • pleurisy
  • screening for referral

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Acute pleurisy mimicking neck pain in a young volleyball player: a case report'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this