Health & Wellbeing

High success rate for low back pain treatment

Scientists are treating low back pain with pulses of radiofrequency energy
Scientists are treating low back pain with pulses of radiofrequency energy
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Scientists are treating low back pain with pulses of radiofrequency energy
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Scientists are treating low back pain with pulses of radiofrequency energy

It can be frustrating, getting repeated treatments for chronic low back pain that just won't go away no matter what. There could be fresh hope, however, in the form a new minimally-invasive treatment that involves zapping herniated disks with an electric probe.

Developed by a team led by Dr. Alessandro Napoli from Sapienza University of Rome, the process uses CT (computerized tomography) imaging to guide a needle to the problematic disk. A thin probe is subsequently inserted through that needle, so that it can deliver pulsed radiofrequency energy to the area over a 10-minute period – the probe doesn't actually touch the herniated disc, but instead acts on the muscles in the area.

"Following this treatment, inflammation and pain go away," says Napoli. "With relaxation of the muscles, the distance between the vertebrae returns."

In a single-center clinical study, 80 patients received the treatment. All of them had been experiencing low back pain for at least three months, due to a herniated disk that had not responded to treatments such as exercise and medication.

After just one 10-minute session, 81 percent of the test subjects were pain-free, and remained so a year later. Six of them required a second treatment, and 90 percent of them were able to avoid surgery. None of them experienced any side effects.

"The results have been extraordinary," Napoli states. "Patients have been relieved of pain and resumed their normal activities within a day."

Source: Radiological Society of North America

6 comments
Craig Jennings
I'm sitting here in tears about this! GIMME GIMME GIMME!
Anita
This article is very interesting. I had 2 microdisectomy back surgeries and I am still in alot of pain. How can I and where do I go to get this procedure done?
Douglas E Knapp
LOL!! This is just electroacupuncture with a new branding. If you want this then just find a good TCM doctor!
ljaques
So, what happened with the final ten percent? I had upper spinal problems in 1985/6 and the neurosurgeon wanted to try a new German technology: to go in with an RF probe and microwave the nerves so it didn't hurt! Another doctor wanted to go in and do a foraminal laminectomy (open up the hole for the nerve trunk through the spine) on the _other_ side of my body. (Nerve trunk on the right serves the right side, trunk on the left serves the left side.) I passed on both options, and allowed nature to take its course. A little over a year later, I was back up to 80%. I'm still active and have nowhere near the pain level that most friends have with back problems even _after_ having their surgeries, so I'm really lucky. Anyway, if this can work for people, go for it! I'm sure they've made large strides since it came out in the '80s. Good luck, Craig and Anita.
guzmanchinky
Wish I had known about this 7 years ago when I fused L5-S1. Thank goodness it worked and I have no more pain, but it was a rough surgery and recovery...
JimFox
Not all lower back pain is caused by or due to herniated discs. Just sayin'