A new minimally invasive radiofrequency treatment provides relief from back pain
A new image-guided pulsed radiofrequency treatment for lower back pain and sciatica shows great promise, experts highlighted at a meeting in the US.
Lower back pain is common, affecting at least 80% of the population at some point in their lifetime. One major cause of lower back pain that radiates to the legs is a compressed and herniated disk, in which the rubbery cushion between vertebrae impinges on and irritates nearby nerves.
“The nerve root is a sensitive structure that when pinched becomes inflamed and causes pain,” explains Dr Alessandro Napoli, lead investigator. “The body reacts with muscle constriction, which decreases the distance between vertebrae, and a vicious cycle is created.”
A total of 80 people who had lower back pain due to a herniated disk that had not responded to conservative treatments were given a minimally invasive interventional radiology procedure. With the help of CT imaging, a needle is guided to the location of the bulging disc and nerve root. A probe is then inserted through the needle tip and delivers pulsed radiofrequency energy to the area for 10 minutes.
Of the 80 people treated, 81% were pain free one year after a single 10-minute treatment session. Six patients required a second session. In all, 90% of the patients were able to avoid surgical treatment. No patients experienced side effects after receiving the minimally invasive outpatient treatment.
“The probe delivers a gentle electrical energy, so there’s no thermal damage,” Dr Napoli says. “The results have been extraordinary. Patients have been relieved of pain and resumed their normal activities within a day. Following this treatment, inflammation and pain go away. With relaxation of the muscles, the distance between the vertebrae returns.”
For more in-depth features, interviews and information, subscribe to Arthritis Digest magazine, a popular title that’s published six times a year. Click here for the digital version or tel 0845 643 8470 to order your had copy. You’ll know what your doctor is talking about, what new drugs are in the pipeline and be up to date on helpful products.