Article

Does Pain Score in Response to a Standardized Subcutaneous Local Anesthetic Injection Predict Epidural Steroid Injection Outcomes in Patients with Lumbosacral Radiculopathy? A Prospective Correlational Study

Department of Anesthesiology & Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
Pain Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.24). 01/2013; 14(3). DOI: 10.1111/pme.12027
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT OBJECTIVE: Epidural steroid injections (ESI) are the most commonly performed pain procedures. Despite numerous studies, controversy continues to surround their effectiveness. The purpose of this study is to determine whether a standard, clinical local anesthetic injection can predict outcomes for ESI. STUDY DESIGN: In this multicenter study, 103 patients received two ESI 2 weeks apart. Prior to their first injection, subjects rated the pain intensity of a standardized subcutaneous (SQ) injection of lidocaine prior to the full dose. Numerical rating scale pain scores were correlated with leg and back pain relief, and functional improvement, through 3-month follow-up. OUTCOME MEASURES: A composite successful outcome was predetermined to be a ≥2-point decrease in leg pain score, coupled with a positive global perceived effect. RESULTS: A small but significant relationship was found between SQ pain score and reduction in leg (r = -0.21, 95% CI -0.38 to -0.04; P = 0.03) and back pain (r = -0.22, 95% CI -0.36 to -0.07; P = 0.03). Subjects with a positive outcome at 1 month had a mean SQ pain score of 2.5 (SD 1.9) vs 4.1 (SD 2.7) in those with a negative outcome (P = 0.04). Subjects with SQ pain scores <4/10 had lower leg and back pain scores than those with pain scores ≥4 at 1-month (mean 3.2, SD 2.6 vs 5.1, SD 2.7 for leg, P < 0.01; mean 3.7, SD 2.6 vs 5.0, SD 3.0 for back, P = 0.02) and 3-month (mean 3.8, SD 2.7 vs 5.2, SD 3.1 for leg, P = 0.01; mean 4.0, SD 2.6 vs 4.9, SD 3.1 for back; P = 0.14) follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study found a weak positive correlation between SQ pain scores and treatment results. Further research should consider whether pain perception in conjunction with other variables might prove to be a reliable predictor for ESI and other procedural outcomes.

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