Objective: To examine the potential of etanercept, a biological inhibitor of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF), delivered by perispinal administration, for the treatment of pain associated with intervertebral disc disease.
Methods: Charts from 20 selected patients treated at our private clinic by perispinal delivery of etanercept 25 mg for severe, chronic, treatment-resistant discogenic pain were reviewed. Therapeutic benefit was assessed clinically and was documented by changes in a validated pain instrument, the Oswestry Disability Index. The patients were treated off-label with etanercept as part of our usual practice of medicine. Five detailed case reports are presented, including three additional patients.
Results: Rapid, substantial and sustained clinical pain reduction was documented in this selected group of patients. The cohort of 20 patients had a mean age of 56.5 and mean duration of pain of 116 months. Nine of the patients had undergone previous spinal surgery; 17 had received an epidural steroid injection or injections (mean 3.2). This group of patients received a mean of 1.8 doses (range 1-5, median 1.0) of etanercept during the observation period. The mean length of follow-up was 230 days. Clinical improvement was confirmed by a decrease in the calculated Oswestry Disability Index from a mean of 54.85 +/- 12.5 at baseline, improving to 17.2 +/- 15.3 (p <0.003) at 24 days and ending at 9.8 +/- 13 (p <0.003) at 230 days.
Conclusions: TNF inhibition by etanercept delivered by perispinal administration may offer clinical benefit for patients with chronic, treatment-resistant discogenic pain. Further study of this new treatment modality is warranted.