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Eur J Pain. 2014 Nov;18(10):1394-401. doi: 10.1002/j.1532-2149.2014.502.x. Epub 2014 Apr 2.

Association between baseline IL-6 and 1-year recovery in lumbar radicular pain.

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Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Oslo University Hospital, Ulleval, Norway; Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.



In the present study, the influence of cytokines on 1-year recovery in lumbar radicular pain was examined.


In total, 110 patients with symptomatic lumbar disc herniation were followed for 1 year. Uni- and multivariate linear regression was used to assess the influence of interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, disc degeneration and endplate changes (Modic changes) on the changes in the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI change; primary outcome) and visual analogue scale (VAS) for low back pain (LBP) and leg pain (secondary outcomes).


Less favourable ODI outcome correlated with higher serum IL-6 levels (B = -3.41, 95% CI -5.52 to -1.30, p = 0.002), non-surgical treatment (B = -7.03, 95% CI 1.21 to 12.84, p = 0.018), higher baseline back pain intensity (B = -2.28, 95% CI -3.21 to -1.35, p < 0.001) and low educational level (B = -5.57, 95% CI 0.66 to 10.47, p = 0.027). High VAS for LBP and leg pain at 1 year was associated with high levels of serum IL-6, higher back pain intensity and longer duration of lumbar radicular pain at baseline.


High serum IL-6 levels, but not disc degeneration or Modic changes, were associated with less favourable recovery in patients with lumbar radicular pain. Intense initial back pain, non-surgical treatment, lower educational level and longer duration of radicular pain before treatment also correlated with a slower recovery the first year after disc herniation.

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