Effectiveness of conservative treatments for the lumbosacral radicular syndrome: A systematic review

Pim A.J. Luijsterburg, Arianne P. Verhagen, Raymond W.J.G. Ostelo, Ton A.G. Van Os, Wilco C. Peul, Bart W. Koes

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

    156 Citations (Scopus)


    Patients with a lumbosacral radicular syndrome are mostly treated conservatively first. The effect of the conservative treatments remains controversial. To assess the effectiveness of conservative treatments of the lumbosacral radicular syndrome (sciatica). Relevant electronic databases and the reference lists of articles up to May 2004 were searched. Randomised clinical trials of all types of conservative treatments for patients with the lumbosacral radicular syndrome selected by two reviewers. Two reviewers independently assessed the methodological quality and the clinical relevance. Because the trials were considered heterogeneous we decided not to perform a meta-analysis but to summarise the results using the rating system of levels of evidence. Thirty trials were included that evaluated injections, traction, physical therapy, bed rest, manipulation, medication, and acupuncture as treatment for the lumbosacral radicular syndrome. Because several trials indicated no evidence of an effect it is not recommended to use corticosteroid injections and traction as treatment option. Whether clinicians should prescribe physical therapy, bed rest, manipulation or medication could not be concluded from this review. At present there is no evidence that one type of treatment is clearly superior to others, including no treatment, for patients with a lumbosacral radicular syndrome.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)881-899
    Number of pages19
    JournalEuropean Spine Journal
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2007


    • Conservative treatment
    • Lumbosacral radicular syndrome
    • Randomised clinical trial
    • Sciatica
    • Systematic review

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