Pulses of electricity directed at irritated spinal nerves are showing significant promise in relieving chronic pain in the lower back. The new treatment may be effective in treating sciatica and other back pain symptoms. Named image guided pulsed radiofrequency, the procedure is minimally invasive. In studies, it has been shown to reduce chronic pain in eight out of ten patients with only one ten minute treatment sessions. Nine out of ten did not need surgery after receiving the treatment.

Doctors involved with the study believe image guided pulsed radiofrequency offers a fast and safe recovery for patients suffering from some issues with the spinal cord. Sufferers of herniated discs and compression of nerve roots can avoid surgery and be back to their regular daily routines within the day. The procedure is quick and easy, patients can be scheduled in, treated, and released all in the same day.

Eighty percent of people experience back pain during their life. For many, it will come in the form of a disc in the spinal column that ruptures due to age or overuse injury. Nerves becoming pinched or compressed account for a significant portion of patients as well. For both, it is nearly always a chronic condition, and about one in five patients are unable to find relief short of surgical options.

Key Points:

  • 1Image guided pulsed radiofrequency treatments are minimally invasive and reduced pain in eighty percent of patients.
  • 2Because it avoids surgery, image guided pulsed radiofrequency can be performed as a same day treatment for chronic pain.
  • 3For the twenty percent of patients who might otherwise require surgery to deal with the cause of their pain, this new treatment may offer an additional option.


A probe that’s inserted through the needle tip delivers pulsed radiofrequency energy to the area over a 10-minute period, resolving the herniation without touching the disc, Napoli explained.

More than 80 percent of the 80 study participants were pain-free a year after a single treatment. Six people required a second treatment session.

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