Within the framework of evidence-based medicine high-quality randomised trials and systematic reviews are considered a necessary prerequisite for progress in orthopaedics. This paper summarises the currently available evidence on surgical and other invasive procedures for low back pain. Results of systematic reviews conducted within the framework of the Cochrane Back Review Group were used. Data were gathered from the latest Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 2. The Cochrane reviews were updated using the evidence summary on surgery and other invasive procedures from the COST B13 European Guidelines for the Management of Acute and Chronic Non-Specific Low Back Pain. Facet joint, epidural, trigger point and sclerosant injections have not clearly been shown to be effective and can consequently not be recommended. There is no scientific evidence on the effectiveness of spinal stenosis surgery. Surgical discectomy may be considered for selected patients with sciatica due to lumbar disc prolapses that fail to resolve with the conservative management. Cognitive intervention Combined with exercises is recommended for chronic low back pain, and fusion surgery may be considered only in carefully selected patients after active rehabilitation programmes during 2 years time have failed. Demanding surgical fusion techniques are not better than the traditional posterolateral fusion without internal fixation.
Back pain; Sciatica; Invasive treatment; Surgery; Evidence review
We analysed baseline measures from an RCT involving adults with low back pain (LBP) with or without referred leg pain, to identify self-report items that best identified clinically determined nerve root involvement (sciatica).
Potential indicators of nerve root involvement were gathered using a self-reported questionnaire. Participants underwent a standardised physical examination on the same day as questionnaire completion. Self-reported items were compared to a reference standard (clinical diagnosis) using sensitivity, specificity, predictive values, likelihood ratios (LRs), the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve and logistic regression. Two reference standards are presented: one based on a clinical diagnosis of nerve root problems and excluding possible/inconclusive cases (referred to as a confirmatory reference), and the other being inclusive of possible/inconclusive cases (referred to as an indicative reference).
Pain below knee was the best single item for diagnostic accuracy with an area under curve (AUC) of 0.67–0.68, which however is slightly less than the ‘acceptable discrimination’. A cluster of three items, including distribution of pain below the knee, leg pain that is worse than back pain, and feeling of numbness or pins and needles in the leg, did improve discrimination to an ‘acceptable’ level with an AUC of 0.72–0.74 in relation to confirmatory and indicative references, respectively. However, the likelihood ratios from the models were reflective of a ‘small’ amount of discrimination.
In this primary care population seeking treatment for LBP with or without leg pain, we found no clear set of self-report items that accurately identified patients with nerve root pain. When accurate case definition is important, clinical assessment should be the method of choice for identifying LBP with possible nerve root involvement.
Sciatica; Diagnostic accuracy; Self-report; Epidemiology; Low back pain
Sciatica is a type of neuropathic pain that is characterised by pain radiating into the leg. It is often accompanied by low back pain and neurological deficits in the lower limb. While this condition may cause significant suffering for the individual, the lack of evidence supporting effective treatments for sciatica makes clinical management difficult. Our objectives are to determine the efficacy of pregabalin on reducing leg pain intensity and its cost-effectiveness in patients with sciatica.
PRECISE is a prospectively registered, double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled trial of pregabalin compared to placebo, in addition to usual care. Inclusion criteria include moderate to severe leg pain below the knee with evidence of nerve root/spinal nerve involvement. Participants will be randomised to receive either pregabalin with usual care (n = 102) or placebo with usual care (n = 102) for 8 weeks. The medicine dosage will be titrated up to the participant’s optimal dose, to a maximum 600 mg per day. Follow up consultations will monitor individual progress, tolerability and adverse events. Usual care, if deemed appropriate by the study doctor, may include a referral for physical or manual therapy and/or prescription of analgesic medication. Participants, doctors and researchers collecting participant data will be blinded to treatment allocation. Participants will be assessed at baseline and at weeks 2, 4, 8, 12, 26 and 52. The primary outcome will determine the efficacy of pregabalin in reducing leg pain intensity. Secondary outcomes will include back pain intensity, disability and quality of life. Data analysis will be blinded and by intention-to-treat. A parallel economic evaluation will be conducted from health sector and societal perspectives.
This study will establish the efficacy of pregabalin in reducing leg pain intensity in patients with sciatica and provide important information regarding the effect of pregabalin treatment on disability and quality of life. The impact of this research may allow the future development of a cost-effective conservative treatment strategy for patients with sciatica.
ClinicalTrial.gov, ACTRN 12613000530729
Sciatica; Pregabalin; Neuropathic pain; Randomised control trial
The literature describes multimodal pain-management programs as successful therapy options in the conservative treatment of chronic low back pain. Yet, the intensity and inclusion criteria of such programs remain debatable. In many studies, the pain originating from spinal structures is described as nonspecific low back pain – a diffuse diagnosis without serious implications. The purpose of this study is to compare the short-term outcomes between patients suffering from sciatica due to a discus intervertebralis herniation and those suffering from low back pain caused by facet joint disease after 3 weeks of treatment in an intense multimodal outpatient program in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the university hospital.
chronic low back pain; sciatica; interdisciplinary management; discus herniation; spondylarthritis
Few studies have investigated prognostic factors for patients with sciatica, especially for patients treated without surgery. The aim of this study was to identify factors associated with non-success after 1 and 2 years of follow-up and to test the prognostic value of surgical treatment for sciatica.
The study was a prospective multicentre observational study including 466 patients with sciatica and lumbar disc herniation. Potential prognostic factors were sociodemographic characteristics, back pain history, kinesiophobia, emotional distress, pain, comorbidity and clinical examination findings. Study participation did not alter treatment considerations for the patients in the clinics. Patients reported on the questionnaires if surgery of the disc herniation had been performed. Uni- and multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to evaluate factors associated with non-success, defined as Maine–Seattle Back Questionnaire score of ≥5 (0–12) (primary outcome) and Sciatica Bothersomeness Index ≥7 (0–24) (secondary outcome).
Rates of non-success were at 1 and 2 years 44% and 39% for the main outcome and 47% and 42% for the secondary outcome. Approximately 1/3 of the patients were treated surgically. For the main outcome variable, in the final multivariate model non-success at 1 year was significantly associated with being male (OR 1.70 [95% CI; 1.06 − 2.73]), smoker (2.06 [1.31 − 3.25]), more back pain (1.0 [1.01 − 1.02]), more comorbid subjective health complaints (1.09 [1.03 − 1.15]), reduced tendon reflex (1.62 [1.03 − 2.56]), and not treated surgically (2.97 [1.75 − 5.04]). Further, factors significantly associated with non-success at 2 years were duration of back problems >; 1 year (1.92 [1.11 − 3.32]), duration of sciatica >; 3 months (2.30 [1.40 − 3.80]), more comorbid subjective health complaints (1.10 [1.03 − 1.17]) and kinesiophobia (1.04 [1.00 − 1.08]). For the secondary outcome variable, in the final multivariate model, more comorbid subjective health complaints, more back pain, muscular weakness at clinical examination, and not treated surgically, were independent prognostic factors for non-success at both 1 and 2 years.
The results indicate that the prognosis for sciatica referred to secondary care is not that good and only slightly better after surgery and that comorbidity should be assessed in patients with sciatica. This calls for a broader assessment of patients with sciatica than the traditional clinical assessment in which mainly the physical symptoms and signs are investigated.
Sciatica; Disc herniation; Prognostic factors; Non-success
Sciatica is a common problem, usually caused by disc herniation or spinal stenosis. Low back pain is also present in most cases. When sciatica is the unique clinical finding, especially in young patients, extraspinal pathology should be investigated.
We describe a rare case of sciatica in a 32-year-old man, which was developed as a complication of post-traumatic pelvic heterotopic ossification. During the operation, the sciatic nerve was found to be bluish, distorted and compressed in an hourglass fashion around a heterotopic bone mass. The heterotopic bone tissue, 4 cm in diameter, was removed and the patient had fully recovered 3 months after the operation.
In cases of sciatica without back pain, the possibility of direct pressure of the sciatic nerve from cysts, tumours or bone, as in the present case, should be considered.
Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are becoming increasingly important in informing clinical practice and commissioning. Two systematic reviews of a treatment for low back pain and sciatica using epidural steroid injections, published in the same year, arrived at conflicting conclusions. Only one was reported in a digest for evidence-based medicine. This paper aims to find the reasons for the discordance between the reviews, and draw conclusions for users of reviews. Using comparative analysis of two published systematic reviews and their source material, it was found that the two reviews had the same overall aims and met the criteria for review methods. They differed in their choice of methods, including the judgement of quality of studies for inclusion and for summing-up evidence. Estimation of summary odds ratios in one review led to stronger conclusions about effectiveness. In conclusion, the choice of methods for systematic review may alter views about the current state of evidence. Users should be aware that systematic reviews include an element of judgement, whatever method is used.
In about 5% of all cases LBP is associated with serious underlying pathology requiring diagnostic confirmation and directed treatment. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is often used for this diagnostic purpose yet its role remains controversial. Consequently, this review aimed to summarize the available evidence on the diagnostic accuracy of MRI for identifying lumbar spinal pathology in adult low back pain (LPB) or sciatica patients.
MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL were searched (until December 2009) for observational studies assessing the diagnostic accuracy of MRI compared to a reference test for the identification of lumbar spinal pathology. Two reviewers independently selected studies for inclusion, extracted data and assessed methodological quality. Pooled summary estimates of sensitivity and specificity with 95% confidence intervals were calculated for homogenous subsets of studies.
Eight studies were included in this review. Strata were defined for separate pathologies i.e. lumbar disc herniation (HNP) and spinal stenosis. Five studies comparing MRI to findings at the surgery for identifying HNP were included in a meta-analysis. Pooled analysis resulted in a summary estimate of sensitivity of 75% (95% CI 65–83%) and specificity of 77% (95% CI 61–88%). For spinal stenosis pooling was not possible.
The results suggest that a considerable proportion of patients may be classified incorrectly by MRI for HNP and spinal stenosis. However, the evidence for the diagnostic accuracy of MRI found by this review is not conclusive, since the results could be distorted due to the limited number of studies and large heterogeneity.
Diagnostic accuracy; Systematic review; MRI; Low back pain; Diagnostic imaging
Of 47 patients with lumbar disc disease and sciatic radiculopathy (L-5 or S-1), 39 were successfully managed at home and as outpatients in an ambulatory care facility designed for the treatment of arthritis and back pain. When these patients were evaluated one to three years following discharge, they maintained their maximum level of activity and functional improvement noted at discharge. The average total cost per patient including physician's fees, x-rays, laboratory and therapy was approximately equivalent to the day rate for 1½ days in hospital.
Gridhrasi can be equated with sciatica, where pain, weakness, numbness, and other discomforts along the path of the sciatic nerve often accompanies low back pain. It is a common affliction of adults, costing billions of dollars in healthcare and resulting in more lost days of work than any other illness but the common cold. A herniated disc, spinal stenosis, piriformis syndrome, etc., can all cause sciatica. The treatment available for sciatica in modern medicine is not very satisfactory.The role of research in Ayurveda is to elucidate the underlying principles and to explain them in modern parameters. The present study was aimed at establishing clinically the effect of Nirgundi (Vitex negundo) Ghan Vati (dried water extract) alone as well as in combination with Matra Basti in the management of Gridhrasi. A total of 119 patients were registered for the study, out of which 102 patients completed the treatment: 52 patients in group A (Nirgundi Ghan Vati) and 50 in group B (Nirgundi Ghan Vati + Matra Basti). The results show that both treatments had an effect on Gridhrasi, but there was better relief of the signs and symptoms in group B. Matra Basti and Nirgundi Ghan Vati might both contribute to different extents in the recovery of the patient.
Gridhrasi; sciatica; Nirgundi Ghana vati; Vitex negundo; therapeutic enema; Matra Basti
Objectives: To explore the efficacy of a tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) inhibitor (etanercept, Enbrel) in patients with severe sciatica.
Methods: A pilot study of etanercept was conducted in patients admitted to hospital for acute severe sciatica. Ten consecutive patients received three subcutaneous injections of etanercept (25 mg every 3 days) in addition to standard analgesia. Response was evaluated at day 10 (T1) and week 6 (T2) using a visual analogue scale for leg pain (VASL) and for low back pain (VASB), and two validated functional scores: the Oswestry disability index (ODI) and the Roland Morris disability questionnaire (RMDQ). The control group consisted of 10 patients with severe sciatica, who took part in an observational study on IV methylprednisolone.
Results: In the etanercept group all variables improved: VASB from 36 to 7; VASL from 74 to 12; RMDQ from 17.8 to 5.8, and ODI from 75.4 to 17.3; all p<0.001. Pain (VASL and VASB: p<0.001) and ODI (p<0.05) were significantly better in the etanercept group than in the methylprednisolone group.
Conclusion: In this open, historical group controlled study, patients with severe sciatica had sustained improvement after a short treatment with etanercept that was better than standard care plus a short course of methylprednisolone. These results suggest that inhibition of TNFα is beneficial in the treatment of sciatica and support a pathological role for TNFα in the pathogenesis of sciatica. These results need to be confirmed by a randomised controlled trial.
When present sciatica is considered an obstacle to recovery in low back pain patients, yet evidence is limited regarding prognostic factors for persistent disability in this patient group. The aim of this study is to describe and summarise the evidence regarding prognostic factors for sciatica in non-surgically treated cohorts. Understanding the prognostic factors in sciatica and their relative importance may allow the identification of patients with particular risk factors who might benefit from early or specific types of treatment in order to optimise outcome.
A systematic literature search was conducted using Medline, EMBASE and CINAHL electronic databases. Prospective cohort studies describing subjects with sciatica and measuring pain, disability or recovery outcomes were included. Studies of cohorts comprised entirely of surgically treated patients were excluded and mixed surgically and conservatively treated cohorts were included only if the results were analysed separately by treatment group or if the analysis was adjusted for treatment.
Seven adequate or high quality eligible studies were identified. There were conflicting but mainly negative results regarding the influence of baseline pain severity, neurological deficit, nerve root tension signs, duration of symptoms and radiological findings on outcome. A number of factors including age, gender, smoking, previous history of sciatica and heaviness of work do not appear to influence outcome. In contrast to studies of low back pain and purely surgically treated sciatica cohorts, psychological factors were rarely investigated.
At present, the heterogeneity of the available studies makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions about sciatica prognosis, and highlights the need for further research for this group of patients. Large scale prospective studies of high methodological quality, using a well-defined, consistent definition of sciatica and investigating psychosocial factors alongside clinical and radiological findings are recommended to identify prognostic factors in this population.
Lower back pain radiating to either on one leg or both legs along the course of sciatic nerve is a common ailment in the clinical practice, this type of peculiar symptomatology is termed as "Sciatica" in modern medicine. The medical treatment is unsatisfactory for both the patient and the neurosurgeons, as the surgical treatment has its own hazards and the cost of the surgical procedure and medical treatment is prohibitory to most of the Indian patients. Hence, most of the patients present themselves to the practitioners of Indian medicines like Ayurveda and yoga. This study was designed to evaluate the preliminary clinical effects of Bahya Snehan and Asanas in the patients of sciatica. This was a prospective randomized active control trial. A total of 60 participants showing classical symptoms of Sciatica between 18 and 65 years of age were randomly assigned to receive Ayurvedic or Yogic measure. One group received Snehan (external) with Bhujang and Shalabh Asana while another group received Bhujang and Salabh Asana only. Both groups practiced supervised intervention for 4 weeks. The signs and symptoms like Katishool (pain), tenderness, Stambha (rigidity), difficulty in walking, pain on bending forward were graded and interpreted at the end of the trail Significant improvement was observed in both groups before and after external Snehan with Bhujang and Shalabh Asana and in another group Bhujang and Salabh Asana only. Conclusions: Both groups, one with Snehan with asanas and the second with asanas only showed significant improvement in the patients of sciatica (Gridhrasi).
Asanas; gridhrasi; janu; kati; pada; prushtha; sciatics; sphika; stambha
Disc herniation with sciatica accounts for five percent of low-back disorders but is one of the most common reasons for spine surgery. The goal of this study was to update the Cochrane review on the effect of surgical techniques for sciatica due to disc herniation, which was last updated in 2007.
Materials and methods
In April 2011, we conducted a comprehensive search in CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PEDRO, ICL, and trial registries. We also checked the reference lists and citation tracking results of each retrieved article. Only randomized controlled trials (RCT) of the surgical management of sciatica due to disc herniation were included. Comparisons including chemonucleolysis and prevention of scar tissue or comparisons against conservative treatment were excluded. Two review authors independently selected studies, assessed risk of bias of the studies and extracted data. Quality of evidence was graded according to the GRADE approach.
Seven studies from the original Cochrane review were included and nine additional studies were found. In total, 16 studies were included, of which four had a low risk of bias. Studies showed that microscopic discectomy results in a significantly, but not clinically relevant longer operation time of 12 min (95 % CI 2–22) and shorter incision of 24 mm (95 % CI 7–40) compared with open discectomy, but did not find any clinically relevant superiority of either technique on clinical results. There were conflicting results regarding the comparison of tubular discectomy versus microscopic discectomy for back pain and surgical duration.
Due to the limited amount and quality of evidence, no firm conclusions on effectiveness of the current surgical techniques being open discectomy, microscopic discectomy, and tubular discectomy compared with each other can be drawn. Those differences in leg or back pain scores, operation time, and incision length that were found are clinically insignificant. Large, high-quality studies are needed, which examine not only effectiveness but cost-effectiveness as well.
Herniated disc; Sciatica; Surgery; Discectomy; Systematic review
Sciatica is a common condition worldwide that is characterized by radiating leg pain and regularly caused by a herniated disc with nerve root compression. Sciatica patients with persisting leg pain after six to eight weeks were found to have similar clinical outcomes and associated costs after prolonged conservative treatment or surgery at one year follow-up. Guidelines recommend that the team of professionals involved in sciatica care and patients jointly decide about treatment options, so-called interprofessional shared decision making (SDM). However, there are strong indications that SDM for sciatica patients is not integrated in daily practice. We designed a study aiming to explore the barriers and facilitators associated with the everyday embedding of SDM for sciatica patients. All related relevant professionals and patients are involved to develop a tailored strategy to implement SDM for sciatica patients.
The study consists of two phases: identification of barriers and facilitators and development of an implementation strategy. First, barriers and facilitators are explored using semi-structured interviews among eight professionals of each (para)medical discipline involved in sciatica care (general practitioners, physical therapists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, and orthopedic surgeons). In addition, three focus groups will be conducted among patients. Second, the identified barriers and facilitators will be ranked using a questionnaire among a representative Dutch sample of 200 GPs, 200 physical therapists, 200 neurologists, all 124 neurosurgeons, 200 orthopedic surgeons, and 100 patients. A tailored team-based implementation strategy will be developed based on the results of the first phase using the principles of intervention mapping and an expert panel.
Little is known about effective strategies to increase the uptake of SDM. Most implementation strategies only target a single discipline, whereas multiple disciplines are involved in SDM among sciatica patients. The results of this study can be used as an example for implementing SDM in other patient groups receiving multidisciplinary complex care (e.g., elderly) and can be generalized to other countries with similar context, thereby contributing to a worldwide increase of SDM in preference sensitive choices.
Sciatica; Lumbar radicular syndrome; Implementation strategy; Shared decision making; Barriers and facilitators; Decision aid
In low back pain if serious pathology is suspected diagnostic imaging could be performed. One of the imaging techniques available for this purpose is computed tomography (CT), however, insight in the diagnostic performance of CT is unclear.
Diagnostic systematic review. Studies assessing the diagnostic accuracy of CT in adult patients suggested having low back pain caused by specific pathology were selected. Two review authors independently selected studies for inclusion, extracted data and assessed risk of bias. Pooled summary estimates of sensitivity and specificity with 95% CI were calculated.
Seven studies were included, all describing the diagnostic accuracy of CT in identifying lumbar disc herniation. Six studies used surgical findings as the reference standard and were considered sufficiently homogenous to carry out a meta-analysis. The pooled summary estimate of sensitivity was 77.4% and specificity was 73.7%.
We found no studies evaluating the accuracy of CT for pathologies such as vertebral cancer, infection and fractures and this remains unclear. Our results should be interpreted with some caution. Sensitivity and specificity, regarding the detection of lumbar disc herniation, showed that a substantial part of the patients is still classified as false-negative and false-positive. In future, the diagnostic performance of CT must be assessed in high quality prospective cohort studies with an unselected population of patients with low back pain.
Computed tomography; Low back pain; Diagnostic imaging; Systematic review
Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is thought to play a crucial role in the radicular pain caused by lumbar spinal stenosis. However, efficacy of inhibition of IL-6 for sciatica in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis has not been clarified. The purpose of the current study was to examine the effect of the anti-IL-6 receptor monoclonal antibody, tocilizumab, on radicular pain by its epidural administration onto spinal nerves in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis.
Sixty patients with low back and radicular leg pain caused by spinal stenosis were investigated. In 30 patients, we infiltrated 2.0 mL of lidocaine and 80 mg of tocilizumab onto the affected spinal nerve, and 2.0 mL of lidocaine and 3.3 mg of dexamethasone were used in 30 patients. Low back pain, leg pain, and leg numbness were evaluated during 1 month after spinal nerve infiltration.
Infiltration of tocilizumab was more effective than dexamethasone for leg pain (3 days, 1, 2, and 4 weeks), low back pain (3 days, 1, 2 and 4 weeks), and leg numbness (3 days, 1 and 2 weeks). No adverse event was observed in either group.
Our results indicate that the epidural administration of an anti-IL-6 receptor monoclonal antibody, tocilizumab, onto the spinal nerve produced reduction of radicular leg pain, numbness, and low back pain without adverse event. IL-6 may be one of the inducers of pain caused by spinal stenosis in humans.
Anti-interleukin-6 receptor monoclonal antibody; Sciatica; Lumbar spinal stenosis; Pain; Tocilizumab
The design of a randomized multicenter trial is presented on the effectiveness of a prolonged conservative treatment strategy compared with surgery in patients with persisting intense sciatica (lumbosacral radicular syndrome).
Patients presenting themselves to their general practitioner with disabling sciatica lasting less than twelve weeks are referred to the neurology outpatient department of one of the participating hospitals. After confirmation of the diagnosis and surgical indication MRI scanning is performed. If a distinct disc herniation is discerned which in addition covers the clinically expected site the patient is eligible for randomization. Depending on the outcome of the randomization scheme the patient will either be submitted to prolonged conservative care or surgery. Surgery will be carried out according to the guidelines and between six and twelve weeks after onset of complaints. The experimental therapy consists of a prolonged conservative treatment under supervision of the general practitioner, which may be followed by surgical intervention in case of persisting or progressive disability. The main primary outcome measure is the disease specific disability of daily functioning. Other primary outcome measures are perceived recovery and intensity of legpain. Secondary outcome measures encompass severity of complaints, quality of life, medical consumption, absenteeism, costs and preference. The main research question will be answered at 12 months after randomization. The total follow-up period covers two years.
Evidence is lacking concerning the optimal treatment of lumbar disc induced sciatica. This pragmatic randomized trial, focusses on the 'timing' of intervention, and will contribute to the decision of the general practictioner and neurologist, regarding referral of patients for surgery.
This study describes the 5 years’ results of the Sciatica trial focused on pain, disability, (un)satisfactory recovery and predictors for unsatisfactory recovery.
A randomised controlled trial.
Nine Dutch hospitals.
Five years’ follow-up data from 231 of 283 patients (82%) were collected.
Early surgery or an intended 6 months of conservative treatment.
Main outcome measures
Scores from Roland disability questionnaire, visual analogue scale (VAS) for leg and back pain and a Likert self-rating scale of global perceived recovery were analysed.
There were no significant differences between groups on the 5 years’ primary outcome scores. Despite at least 6 months of conservative treatment 46% of the conservatively allocated patients were treated surgically because of severe leg pain and disability. Forty-nine (21%) patients had an unsatisfactory recovery at 5 years and the recovery pattern showed that there was a variable group of 66 patients (31%) with at least one unsatisfactory outcome at 1, 2 or 5 years of follow-up. Multivariate logistic regression showed that age (>40; OR 2.42 (95% CI 1.16 to 5.02)), severity of leg pain (VAS >70; OR 3.32 (95% CI 1.69 to 6.54)) and the Mc Gill affective score (score >3; OR 6.23 (95% CI 2.23 to 17.38)) were the only significant predictors for an unsatisfactory outcome at 5 years.
In the long term, 8% of the patients with sciatica never showed any recovery and in at least 23%, sciatica appears to result in ongoing complaints, which fluctuate over time, irrespective of treatment. Prolonged conservative care might give patients a fair chance for pain and disability to resolve without surgery, but with the risk to receive delayed surgery after prolonged suffering of sciatica. Age above 40 years, severe leg pain at baseline and a higher affective Mc Gill pain score were predictors for unsatisfactory recovery. Trial Registry ISRCT No 26872154.
A randomised clinical trial in primary care with a 12-months follow-up period. About 135 patients with acute sciatica (recruited from May 2003 to November 2004) were randomised in two groups: (1) the intervention group received physical therapy (PT) added to the general practitioners’ care, and (2) the control group with general practitioners’ care only. To assess the effectiveness of PT additional to general practitioners’ care compared to general practitioners’ care alone, in patients with acute sciatica. There is a lack of knowledge concerning the effectiveness of PT in patients with sciatica. The primary outcome was patients’ global perceived effect (GPE). Secondary outcomes were severity of leg and back pain, severity of disability, general health and absence from work. The outcomes were measured at 3, 6, 12 and 52 weeks after randomisation. At 3 months follow-up, 70% of the intervention group and 62% of the control group reported improvement (RR 1.1; 95% CI 0.9–1.5). At 12 months follow-up, 79% of the intervention group and 56% of the control group reported improvement (RR 1.4; 95% CI 1.1; 1.8). No significant differences regarding leg pain, functional status, fear of movement and health status were found at short-term or long-term follow-up. At 12 months follow-up, evidence was found that PT added to general practitioners’ care is only more effective regarding GPE, and not more cost-effective in the treatment of patients with acute sciatica than general practitioners’ care alone. There are indications that PT is especially effective regarding GPE in patients reporting severe disability at presentation.
Sciatica; Lumbosacral radicular syndrome; GP; Physical therapy; RCT
Sciatica-like leg pain can be the main presenting symptom in patients with cervical cord compression. It is a false localizing presentation, which may lead to missed or delayed diagnosis, resulting in the wrong plan of management, especially in the presence of concurrent lumbar lesions. Medical history, physical findings and the results of imaging studies were reviewed in two cases of cervical cord compressions, which presented with sciatica-like leg pain. There was multi-level cervical spondylosis with cord compression in the first patient and the second patient had two levels of cervical disc herniation with cord compression. In both cases, there were co-existing lumbar lesions, which could be responsible for the presentation of the leg pain. Cervical blocks were diagnostic in identifying the level responsible for the leg pain and it was confirmed so after cervical decompressive surgery in both cases, which brought significant pain relief. Funicular leg pain is a rare presentation of cervical cord compression. It is a referred pain due to the irritation of the ascending spinothalamic tract. Cervical blocks were successful in identifying the cause of funicular pain in our cases and this may pave the way for further studies to establish the role of cervical blocks as a diagnostic tool for funicular pain caused by cord compression.
Cord compression; Cervical blocks; False localizing signs; Sciatica; Tract pain; Funicular pain
Patients with unilateral sciatica have heightened responses to intradermal capsaicin compared to pain-free volunteers. No studies have investigated whether this pain model can screen for novel anti-neuropathic agents in patients with pre-existing neuropathic pain syndromes.
This study compared the effects of pregabalin (300 mg) and the tetracycline antibiotic and glial attenuator minocycline (400 mg) on capsaicin-induced spontaneous pain, flare, allodynia and hyperalgesia in patients with unilateral sciatica on both their affected and unaffected leg.
Eighteen patients with unilateral sciatica completed this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, three-way cross-over study. Participants received a 10 µg dose of capsaicin into the middle section of their calf on both their affected and unaffected leg, separated by an interval of 75 min. Capsaicin-induced spontaneous pain, flare, allodynia and hyperalgesia were recorded pre-injection and at 5, 20, 40, 60 and 90 min post-injection. Minocycline tended to reduce pre-capsaicin injection values of hyperalgesia in the affected leg by 28% (95% CI 0% to 56%). The area under the effect time curves for capsaicin-induced spontaneous pain, flare, allodynia and hyperalgesia were not affected by either treatment compared to placebo. Significant limb differences were observed for flare (AUC) (−38% in affected leg, 95% CI for difference −19% to −52%). Both hand dominance and sex were significant covariates of response to capsaicin.
It cannot be concluded that minocycline is unsuitable for further evaluation as an anti-neuropathic pain drug as pregabalin, our positive control, failed to reduce capsaicin-induced neuropathic pain. However, the anti-hyperalgesic effect of minocycline observed pre-capsaicin injection is promising pilot information to support ongoing research into glial-mediated treatments for neuropathic pain. The differences in flare response between limbs may represent a useful biomarker to further investigate neuropathic pain. Inclusion of a positive control is imperative for the assessment of novel therapies for neuropathic pain.
Metastatic renal cell cancer is not exceptional in kidney cancer (30% of patients with kidneyl cancer). Its prognosis is particularly severe. However, sciatic neuralgia (sciatica) remains an exceptional revealing clinical sign of this disease. The authors report the case of a patient admitted with right sciatica as chief complain, leading to the discovery of a renal cell carcinoma. Although uncommon, renal cell carcinoma spine metastasis should be included in the differential diagnosis of back pain and sciatica.
Renal carcinoma; kidney cancer; metastatic renal cell cancer; cytoreductive nephrectomy
Chemonucleolysis is the nonoperative chemical removal of displaced lumbar disc material. The enzyme chymopapain, which has a wide margin of safety between its effective therapeutic and toxic doses, is effective in the management of sciatica due to a herniated intervertebral disc. The patient will have leg pain as the dominant symptom and a 50% reduction in straight-leg raising with or without bowstring discomfort and crossover pain. Neurologic symptoms and signs are usual, as are abnormal results of contrast studies, which will verify the level of involvement. In 220 randomly selected patients who met criteria for the diagnosis of sciatica due to a herniated intervertebral disc and did not have psychogenic or nonorganic spinal pain, a spinal stenosis or a history of a previous, unsuccessful operation to relieve the sciatica, chemonucleolysis had a success rate of 80%. The only complications were a severe anaphylactic reaction in two patients and lesser, delayed reactions in five others. All of the reactions were successfully treated. Of the 45 patients in whom chemonucleolysis was unsuccessful, 38 underwent a laminectomy. In 3 of the 38 the results of chemonucleolysis were initially good, but later the disc herniation recurred; thus, the long-term treatment failure rate was 1.4%.
Objective To investigate the efficacy and tolerability of analgesic and adjuvant pain drugs typically administered in primary care for the management of patients with sciatica.
Design Systematic review.
Data source International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, PsycINFO, Medline, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Clinical Trials (CENTRAL), CINAHL, and LILACS.
Study selection Randomised controlled trials assessing the efficacy and tolerability of drugs versus placebo or other treatment for sciatica.
Data extraction Two independent reviewers extracted data and assessed methodological quality using the PEDro scale. Pain and disability outcomes were converted to a common 0 to 100 scale. Data were pooled with a random effects model, and the GRADE approach was used in summary conclusions.
Results Twenty three published reports met the inclusion criteria. The evidence to judge the efficacy of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, muscle relaxants, and opioid analgesics ranged from moderate to low quality. Most of the pooled estimates did not favour the active treatment over placebo. The pooled results of two trials of corticosteroids (mean difference in overall and leg pain −12.2, 95% confidence interval −20.9 to −3.4) and a single trial of the anticonvulsant gabapentin for chronic sciatica (mean difference in overall pain relief −26.6, −38.3 to −14.9) showed some benefits but only in the short term. The median rate of adverse events was 17% (interquartile range 10-30%) for the active drugs and 11% (3-23%) for placebo. Trial limitations included failure to use validated outcome measures, lack of long term follow-up, and small sample size.
Conclusions As the existing evidence from clinical trials is of low quality, the efficacy and tolerability of drugs commonly prescribed for the management of sciatica in primary care is unclear.