A minimally invasive, nerve ablating procedure, recently cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, may give some people with chronic low back pain a new treatment option.
The treatment uses radio frequency energy to disable the targeted-nerve responsible for low back pain. Under local anesthesia with mild sedation, through a small opening in the patient’s back, an access tube is inserted into a specific bony structure of the spine, called a vertebral body.
Radio frequency energy is transmitted through the device, creating heat, which disables the nerve. The access tube is then removed. The minimally invasive, implant-free procedure takes less than one hour.
“This is a new way to treat back pain. This type of treatment has never been done before,” said Dr. Jeffrey Fischgrund, M.D., chairman, Orthopedics, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.
Patients eligible for this new procedure typically are candidates for more invasive back surgery or take strong pain medications, like opioids. Those research participants that had the radio frequency ablation procedure noticed significant improvement in their back pain within two weeks of surgery.
According to the National Institutes of Health, 80 percent of adults will experience low back pain some time in their lives. In fact, chronic low back pain, lasting 12 weeks or longer, affects nearly one-third of the nation’s population.
The nerve ablation procedure and technology was developed by Relievant Medsystems Inc., a California-based medical device company.