While chronic neck pain is a common problem in the adult population, with a typical 12-month prevalence of 30%–50%, there is a lack of consensus regarding its causes and treatment. Despite limited evidence, cervical epidural injections are one of the commonly performed nonsurgical interventions in the management of chronic neck pain.
A randomized, double-blind, active, controlled trial was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of cervical interlaminar epidural injections of local anesthetic with or without steroids for the management of chronic neck pain with or without upper extremity pain in patients without disc herniation, radiculitis, or facet joint pain.
One hundred and twenty patients without disc herniation or radiculitis and negative for facet joint pain by means of controlled diagnostic medial branch blocks were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups, ie, injection of local anesthetic only (group 1) or local anesthetic mixed with nonparticulate betamethasone (group 2). The primary outcome of significant pain relief and improvement in functional status (≥50%) was demonstrated in 72% of group 1 and 68% of group 2. The overall average number of procedures per year was 3.6 in both groups with an average total relief per year of 37–39 weeks in the successful group over a period of 52 weeks.