Background:Previous systemic reviews have examined the efficacy of individual therapeutic agents, but which type of treatment is superior to another has not been pooled or analyzed. The objective of the current study was to compare the clinical effectiveness of epidural steroid injection (ESI) versus conservative treatment for patients with lumbosacral radicular pain.Methods:A systematic search was conducted with MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CENTRAL databases with a double-extraction technique for relevant studies published between 2000 and January 10, 2019. The randomized controlled trials which directly compared the efficacy of ESI with conservative treatment in patients with lumbosacral radicular pain were included. Outcomes included visual analog scale, numeric rating scale, Oswetry disability index, or successful events. Two reviewers extracted data and evaluated the methodological quality of papers using the Cochrane Collaboration Handbook. A meta-analysis was performed using Revman 5.2 software. The heterogeneity of the meta-analysis was also assessed.Results:Of 1071 titles initially identified, 6 randomized controlled trials (249 patients with ESI and 241 patients with conservative treatment) were identified and included in this meta-analysis. The outcome of the pooled analysis showed that ESI was beneficial for pain relief at short-term and intermediate-term follow-up when compared with conservative treatment, but this effect was not maintained at long-term follow-up. Successful event rates were significantly higher in patients who received ESI than in patients who received conservative treatment. There were no statistically significant differences in functional improvement after ESI and conservative treatment at short-term and intermediate-term follow-up. The limitations of this meta-analysis resulted from the variation in types of interventions and small sample size.Conclusions:According to the results of this meta-analysis, the use of ESI is more effective for alleviating lumbosacral radicular pain than conservative treatments in terms of short-term and intermediate-term. Patients also reported more successful outcomes after receiving ESI when compared to conservative treatment. However, this effect was not maintained at long-term follow-up. This meta-analysis will help guide clinicians in making decisions for the treatment of patients with lumbosacral radicular pain, including the use of ESI, particularly in the management of pain at short-term.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would like to thank the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (NRF-2017R1A2B2005321), for help with language editing of the manuscript.
© 2020 the Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.
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