Home E-Weekly May 26, 2015

Oral Steroids Provide Little Help for Patients with Sciatica

Published: May 26, 2015

For patients with sciatica (acute radiculopathy) caused by a herniated lumbar disk, a regimen of oral steroids may slightly improve function, but it has no discernible effect on pain, according to a study published in JAMA.

A total of 269 patients were given either a tapering 15-day course of oral prednisone (5 days each of 60 mg, 40 mg and 20 mg), or a placebo. Based on the Oswestry Disability Index, the prednisone group showed a modestly better improvement in function after 3 weeks and after 52 weeks, but no improvement in pain relief.

While noting that "an important rationale for using oral steroids is the potential to decrease the need for more invasive interventions," the authors say that the two groups were equally likely to undergo spine surgery after 52 weeks.

Jim Burger

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