Outcomes of therapeutic selective nerve root blocks for whiplash induced cervical radicular pain

Pain Physician. 2001 Apr;4(2):167-74.


This study was designed to investigate the clinical efficacy of fluoroscopically guided therapeutic cervical selective nerve root blocks (SNRBs) in patients with whiplash induced cervical radicular pain. Study design was restrospective with independent clinical review. Twenty two patients were included. Each patient met specific physical examination criteria and failed to improve clinically after at least four weeks of physical therapy and the use of oral analgesics. Each patient demonstrated a positive response to a fluoroscopically guided diagnostic cervical SNRB. Patients were excluded for radiographic evidence of a focal disc protrusion or foraminal stenosis at the symptomatic level. Therapeutic cervical SNRBs were administered in conjunction with physical therapy. Data collection and analysis were performed by an independent clinical reviewer. Outcome measures included VAS pain scores, work status, medication usage, and Oswestry disability scores. Results showed the patients' symptom duration prior to diagnostic injection averaged 6 months. An average of 2.1 therapeutic injections was administered. Follow up data collection transpired at an average of 33.3 weeks following the final therapeutic injection. Good or excellent results were observed in 14% of patients. In higher functioning individuals a significantly greater (F=.0427) improvement in pain of 48.9% was observed. In these initial findings suggest that fluoroscopically guided therapeutic SNRBs, except possibly for higher functioning individuals, are not effective in the treatment of whiplash induced cervical radicular pain.