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Therapeutic Zygapophyseal Joint Injections for Headaches Emanating from the C2-3 Joint

Slipman, Curtis W. MD; Lipetz, Jason S. MD; Plastaras, Christopher T. MD; Jackson, Howard B. MD; Yang, Susan T. MD; Meyer, Adam M. MD

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: March 2001 - Volume 80 - Issue 3 - p 182-188
Research Articles

Slipman CW, Lipetz JS, Plastaras CT, Jackson HB, Yang ST, Meyer AM: Therapeutic zygapophyseal joint injections for headaches emanating from the C2-3 joint. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 2001;80:182–188.

Objective To report our experience using fluoroscopically guided therapeutic intra-articular C2-3 zygapophyseal joint injections in patients with chronic headaches after a whiplash event.

Design Restrospective study (n = 18 patients) with independent clinical review. Each patient experienced persistent daily headache symptoms which failed to improve after at least 3 mo of physical therapy, activity restriction, and the use of oral analgesics. Each patient demonstrated initially a positive response to a diagnostic intra-articular C2-3 joint injection. Data collection and analysis were performed by an independent clinical reviewer. Outcome measures included headache frequency, medication usage, symptom response to medication, and employment status.

Results Patients’ symptom duration before diagnostic injection averaged 34 mo. Follow-up data collection transpired at an average of 19 mo after the final therapeutic injection. In 61% of patients, fewer than three headaches were experienced each week; these headaches were relieved with the use of oral analgesics.

Conclusions Although the inherent limitations of this study preclude a definitive statement regarding the efficacy of C2-3 injections, these initial findings suggest that therapeutic intra-articular zygapophyseal joint injections are effective in the treatment of headaches emanating from the C2-3 joint after a whiplash event. Future controlled, prospective studies are necessary to clarify the role of such injections in this challenging patient population.

From the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

All correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Curtis W. Slipman, MD, The Penn Spine Center, Ground Floor White Building, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Copyright © 2001 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.