Low back pain is a leading cause of chronic pain and disability worldwide, with an estimated 80% of people likely to experience it at some point in their lives.
Approximately 40% of back pain cases are linked to abnormalities of spinal discs and adjacent vertebrae.
In many cases, pain transmitted through the basivertebral nerves can be a source of chronic low back pain.
In a recent study at UC San Diego Health, researchers found a new minimally invasive approach to provide relief for patients suffering from chronic low back pain.
The new treatment is called “Intracept”— an outpatient procedure that targets nerves located in the vertebrae or bones of the spine.
The study is published in the European Spine Journal. One author is Farshad Ahadian, MD.
Intracept is designed to provide durable pain relief without an implant. Like any therapy, this is not a panacea for all types of back pain and careful assessment and patient selection are key to success.
But for the appropriate candidate, basivertebral nerve ablation is a game-changer.
During the 60- to 90-minute procedure, a specialized probe is advanced into the vertebrae under fluoroscopic guidance and uses radiofrequency energy (heat) to disable the nerve, rendering it unable to transmit pain signals.
The procedure does not change the structure of the spine.
The technique is supported by data from two trials involving more than 350 participants enrolling in the trials.
One trial showed a highly significant difference in pain reduction at three months for patients who received the procedure compared to patients who received standard (conservative) care.
In the other trial, patients who received the Intracept Procedure reported a 53% decrease in pain at their two-year follow-up appointments.
The results found persistent improvement of pain and function over time.
The team says the procedure is best suited for patients who have experienced chronic low back pain for at least six months and who have not responded to at least six months of conservative care, defined as employing non-surgical treatment options like physical therapy, medication, and injections.
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