Oral steroids provide a modest boost to function for patients with sciatica

Oral steroids provide a modest boost to function for patients with sciatica. In the image, an MRI scan of a patient with a lumbar herniated disk.

Oral steroids are often used to treat acute sciatica due to a herniated disk but have not been studied in an appropriately powered trial. People with the condition can endure substantial pain and face invasive procedures such as epidural steroid injections if the condition does not improve.

Researchers investigated whether taking a tapered 15-day course of the oral steroid prednisone had any impact on pain and physical function for patients with acute sciatica.

In a placebo-controlled clinical trial involving 269 patients, published in JAMA (2015;313(19):1915–1923)[1], researchers found giving patients oral steroids offered a modest improvement in function, but no significant improvement in pain relief.

References

[1] Goldberg H, Firtch W, Tyburski M et al. Oral steroids for acute radiculopathy due to a herniated lumbar disk: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA 2015;313(19):1915-1923. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.4468.

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 6 June 2015, Vol 294, No 7865;294(7865):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20068610