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Brief Communications
December 1, 1986

Dexamethasone is not superior to placebo for treating lumbosacral radicular pain

December 1986 issue
36 (12) 1593


In a prospective double-blind study, we compared dexamethasone and placebo in 33 subjects with lumbosacral radicular pain. Of subjects with resting pain, 7/21 improved on dexamethasone, and 4/12 improved on placebo. Of subjects with pain on straight-leg raising, 8/19 improved on dexamethasone and 1/6 on placebo. Of 27 subjects evaluated 1 to 4 years after treatment, 8/16 who had received dexamethasone were asymptomatic or had only occasional mild low-back pain, compared with 7/11 who had received placebo. Thus, dexamethasone is not superior to placebo for either early or long-term relief of lumbosacral radicular pain, but may reduce pain evoked by stretch of acutely inflamed spinal nerve roots.

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Information & Authors


Published In

Volume 36Number 12December 1986
Pages: 1593
PubMed: 2946981

Publication History

Published online: December 1, 1986
Published in print: December 1986


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Affiliations & Disclosures

Itzhak C. Haimovic, MD
Department of Neurology, North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, NY, and Cornell University Medical College, New York, NY.
H. Richard Beresford, MD
Department of Neurology, North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, NY, and Cornell University Medical College, New York, NY.

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  2. Intravenous Corticosteroid Therapy for Acute Lumbar Radicular Pain, Journal of Clinical Medicine, 11, 17, (5127), (2022).
  3. Retrospective study assessing the efficacy of i.v. dexamethasone, SNRB, and nonsteroidal treatment for radiculopathy, Medicine, 101, 28, (e29272), (2022).
  4. Systemic corticosteroids for radicular and non-radicular low back pain, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2022, 10, (2022).
  5. Low back pain – literature review, BÓL, 20, 3, (51-59), (2020).
  6. Non-Invasive and Minimally Invasive Management of Low Back Disorders, Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, 62, 3, (e111-e138), (2020).
  7. Efficacy and harms of orally, intramuscularly or intravenously administered glucocorticoids for sciatica: A systematic review and meta‐analysis, European Journal of Pain, 24, 3, (518-535), (2020).
  8. Steroids and L-Lysine Aescinate for Acute Radiculopathy Due to a Herniated Lumbar Disk, Medicina, 55, 11, (736), (2019).
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  10. Traumatic Lumbar Injuries in Athletes, Spinal Conditions in the Athlete, (249-262), (2019).
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