Oral prednisolone in the treatment of cervical radiculopathy: A randomized placebo controlled trial

Majid Ghasemi, Ali Masaeli, Majid Rezvani, Vahid Shaygannejad, Khodayar Golabchi, Rasul Norouzi


  • Background: Steroids are commonly used in the treatment of cervical radiculopathy (CR), but there is limited information in this regard. We evaluated the efficacy of oral prednisone in the treatment of CR.
  • Materials and Methods: This randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial was conducted on adult patients with neck/shoulder pain for at least 1 month with no alarm symptoms/sings of malignancy, infection, or severe myelopathy, and no contraindication for corticosteroid use. Patients were allocated to receive prednisolone 50 mg/day for 5 days that was tapered within the following 5 days, or placebo. All patients also received acetaminophen 325 mg three times a day and ranitidine 150 mg two times a day. Neck disability index (NDI) and the verbal rating scale (VRS) were used to evaluate the outcomes.
  • Results: A total of 59 patients (31 female, mean ± SD age = 46.2±9.0 years) completed the study. A significant decrease was observed regarding the NDI and VAS scores from baseline to the end of study in both groups (P < 0.001). However, for both the NDI (35.7±21.4 vs. 12.9±10.2) and VRS (4.4±2.7 vs. 1.6±1.2), the amount of decrease was greater in the prednisone compared with the placebo group (P < 0.001). Based on the clinically important change in NDI, pain was improved in 75.8% (22/29) of the prednisolone and 30% (9/30) of the placebo group (P < 0.001).
  • Conclusion: A short course of oral steroid therapy with prednisolone is highly effective in reducing pain in patients referring with uncomplicated CR. Further studies are warranted on dosing, duration, and long-term efficacy and safety of oral steroid therapy, compared with injection approach.
  • Keywords: Cervical radiculopathy, prednisone, steroids

Full Text: