The pain that comes from a herniated disc can truly be agonizing. Most back pain is caused by compressed and herniated discs. These are conditions in which the cushion that lies between the individual vertebrae of the back is injured, inflamed, or in some way comes into contact with or impinges on the nerve root. This causes pain in the back and which can radiate to the legs.
At our lumbar spine specialty practice in New Jersey, we provide our patients with a wide range of treatment options, starting with conservative approaches. These include exercise and medication. If the patient’s pain continues, we progress on to minimally invasive treatments, and eventually to surgery if the patient’s individual needs and continued pain demand it. In addition to the treatments that we currently provide, we are also constantly looking for new innovations in medicine. It is important to us that we are up to date and offering the most cutting edge treatment options available for our patients.
One development that we are watching closely is the use of image guided pulsed radiofrequency treatment. The use of this technology was recently highlighted at a meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. A study of the use of this protocol found that the majority of patients diagnosed with herniated discs who underwent this procedure were pain free within one day of treatment, and remained so for a full year afterwards.
Conservative treatments for herniated or compressed discs are always the first line of defense: these can include rest, ice or heat, physical therapy, steroid injections, oral medications, or a combination of any or all of these protocols. If these approaches do not provide relief of the patient’s pain, we generally move forward to more invasive or surgical treatments. These may include laser or robotic spine surgery, microdiscectomy, and spinal fusion. It is also possible to treat patients’ pain by redirecting pain signals through the use of electrical stimulation through an implanted device. Each of these options have been known to provide relief, and science continues to explore other opportunities and technologies. Notably, one of these approaches is the study that was presented at the recent scientific meeting.
The study followed 80 patients for whom conservative treatment did not provide relief, and who underwent the pulsated radiofrequency procedure. The procedure involves having a needle guided via CT scan to the source of the pain. The needle is then used to deliver pulsed radiofrequency energy to the area where the damaged disc is located. The probe never touches the disc, but the pulsation of energy resolves the herniation. The treatment takes just ten minutes.
According to the study, eighty-one percent of the participating patients treated were pain free after a single session, while six patients required a second treatment. Ninety percent of patients had relief that was significant enough to help them avoid surgery, and no patients reported any side effects from the treatment.
To find out what the best option is for your back pain, contact our spine specialist in New Jersey today to set up a convenient time for an appointment. We look forward to finding the right answer for you.