Effectiveness of Conservative Treatments for the Lumbosacral Radicular Syndrome: A Systematic Review

Eur Spine J. 2007 Jul;16(7):881-99. doi: 10.1007/s00586-007-0367-1. Epub 2007 Apr 6.


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.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage
  • Bed Rest
  • Humans
  • Injections, Epidural
  • Musculoskeletal Manipulations
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sciatica / therapy*
  • Traction
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones