Purpose of review: Lumbar radicular pain is a common and often difficult condition to treat. Current literature supports the theory that radicular pain is at least in part due to an inflammatory process involving cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukins. This review summarizes some of the most recent research concerning the use of tumor necrosis factor alpha antagonists and interleukin receptor antagonists in the treatment of lumbar radicular pain.
Recent findings: Recent studies have shown promising results in the treatment of both acute and chronic lumbar radicular pain with tumor necrosis factor alpha antagonists such as etanercept and infliximab, as well as with interleukin receptor antagonists.
Summary: Treatment for lumbar radicular pain has long included epidural steroids to inhibit the inflammatory component of radicular pain. Recent studies have more precisely identified the cytokines responsible for this inflammatory process and indicate that inhibition of these cytokines may offer more specific and effective treatment for lumbar radicular pain.