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Clin Ther. 2003 Apr;25(4):1211-8.

Targeted etanercept for discogenic neck pain: uncontrolled, open-label results in two adults.

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Institute Research Associates, A Medical Group, Inc., Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.



Etanercept, a recombinant biologic anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha therapeutic, is approved for the treatment of certain autoimmune arthritides by subcutaneous (SC) injection. TNF-alpha has been suggested to play a central role in neuropathic pain and neuronal damage associated with intervertebral disc herniation. Directed local administration of etanercept, in anatomic proximity to the site of disc and neuronal abnormality, may result in an enhanced therapeutic response.


This study reviews findings from 2 patients with chronic, severe, discogenic cervical pain who were treated with a targeted cervical injection of etanercept with the objective of obtaining relief from their treatment-resistant pain.


In this uncontrolled, open-label study, the case histories of 2 patients (1 woman and 1 man) presenting with a history of chronic neck pain refractory to various treatments are reviewed. Both patients were treated with etanercept 25 mg by SC injection to the cervical region (case 1) or the posterior neck overlying the spine (case 2).


Both patients experienced almost complete pain relief as assessed subjectively. In case 1, the Oswestry score decreased from 58 before treatment to 6 one day following treatment. In addition, 1 day after treatment the patient reported a subjective assessment of 98% pain improvement, 100% sensory improvement, and 100% weakness improvement. She has remained asymptomatic for >1 year. In case 2, the Oswestry score decreased from 44 before treatment to 4 two months after treatment. The patient reported 100% pain relief and 90% sensory improvement 1 day after treatment. At 8-month follow-up, pain improvement continued to be 100% and sensory improvements was 75%.


Etanercept, delivered by targeted SC injection, may be of benefit for selected patients with resistant pain associated with cervical disc disease. Further study of this new treatment modality is warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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