Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: December 11, 2017
Low back pain is a common problem that affects roughly 90 percent of the population at some point in their life, and nerve compression is one of the more frequent causes of pain. Depending on how the nerve is compressed, pain may not just be housed in your back. That’s what happens when sciatica develops, as nerve compression causes a tingling or shooting sensation in your legs.
There are a number of different ways sciatica is treated, and the best course of action depends on the patient and the location of the compression. Common treatment options include exercise, physical therapy, pain injections and even surgery, but a new treatment option has shown promise of late. That option is image-guided pulsed radiofrequency.
Image-Guided Pulsed Radiofrequency For Sciatica
To get a better understanding of the effectiveness of this relatively new treatment, researchers recruited 80 patients who were suffering from at least three months of low back pain due to a herniated disc whose pain had not been resolved by traditional treatment like exercise or pain medications. Patients instead underwent a less invasive interventional radiology procedure where a needle was directed toward the position of the bulging disc and nerve root, with the assistance of CT imaging.
Once in position, a small probe was inserted through the tip of a needle, which then pulsed radiofrequency energy into the area for about 10 minutes. Researchers found that 81 percent of patients who were treated using the technique were pain free after one year following the 10-minute treatment, and 90 percent were able to avoid undergoing surgery to address the pain. Only six of the 80 patients required a second pulsed radiofrequency session. Many patients who underwent the operation were able to resume their normal physical activities the next day.
It may not work for everybody, but it certainly appears that image-guided techniques are going to become more common in the coming years. These minimally invasive techniques allow the surgeon to view the injured site without making a large incision, which decreases recovery time and the likelihood of complications.
Pulsed radiofrequency works by destroying the nerve cells that carry the pain signals to your brain. It is one of the safest ways to numb these painful cells, as heat therapy may be more likely to injure nearby nerves, but they are both very effective options for nerve pain.
Minnesota Sciatica Doctor
So if you’re dealing with nerve pain or shooting pain in your legs due to nerve compression and traditional treatment options aren’t helping, ask your spine specialist about image-guided pulsed radiofrequency. Sometimes a less invasive option is the most effective. Reach out to Dr. Sinicropi today for more information.