Utilizing the energy of pulses generated by an instrument that is directly applied to nerve roots close to the spine offers effective relief for patients suffering from acute lower back discomfort.
Herniated disks are typically the reason for sciatica or pain radiating downwards out of the lower back to the leg. The treatment options for herniated discs range from painkillers available over the counter to corticosteroids that are injected specifically into the affected part within the spine. Patients who aren’t responding to treatment may require surgery. In some instances the entire disk needs to be removed, and the vertebrae connected to provide stability.
Another alternative method called CT-guided Pulsed Radiofrequency (pRF) uses energy through an electrode with CT direction to the area of the nerve that is responsible for transmitting pain signals.
“Pulsed radiofrequency triggers nerve stimulation, which significantly reduces inflammation and its signs,” said study senior author Alessandro Napoli, M.D., Ph.D., professor of interventional radiology at Sapienza University of Rome in Italy.
The Dr. Napoli and colleagues studied the method in patients suffering from back discomfort due to lumbar disk herniation which did not respond to long-term conservative treatment. In 128 patients the pRF treatment was administered direct with CT supervision to the source of the nerve. The treatment was administered for 10 minutes.
In comparison, a sample of 120 patients had three or more sessions of CT-guided steroid injections at the same anatomical location without pRF.
The results from one year showed that the pRF guided by CT was superior to the injection-only approach. Patients who underwent pRF experienced more improvement overall in disability and pain scores within the initial year. Leg pain relief was quicker in patients who received pRF. Additionally, the patients reported having a greater rate of perceived healing. The chance of improvement within one year monitoring was 95% in patients who were pRF as compared with 61 percent for the injection-only group.
“Given our research findings we recommend radiofrequency with pulses to patients suffering from herniated discs as well as sciatic nerve compression who are not a benefit of conventional treatment,” Dr. Napoli declared.
“We discovered that when radiofrequency pulses are followed by injection of steroid the effect is more lasting and more effective than injections alone,” Dr. Napoli stated. “The result of the pulsed radiofrequency is quick and doesn’t cause any negative side effects.”
The current treatment for spine conditions allows for the complete treatment of issues and ailments using various techniques and methods.
“Of the many treatments available in the market, pulsed radiofrequency is the least invasive” Dr. Napoli said. “Treatment takes about 10 minutes and one treatment was sufficient for a lot of patients treated.”