bulged disc material presses upon the nerve roots in the spinal cord resulting
in moderate to severe pain. The pain is initially managed with painkillers such
as paracetamol and NSAIDs (ibuprofen), and for more severe pain, localized
corticosteroid injections are advised.
If these measures fail, then costly and invasive surgical procedures may
be opted for pain relief.
alternative form of pain relief called pulsed radiofrequency has been found to
be more effective than steroid injections
and may help avoid further costly
and invasive surgery to the spine.
Alessandro Napoli, M.D., Ph.D., senior author
and professor of interventional radiology at Sapienza University of Rome in Italy, said: "Pulsed radiofrequency creates a nerve modulation, significantly reducing inflammation and its associated
Pulsed Radiofrequency with Localized Steroid Injections
compared the efficacy of pulsed radiofrequency with localized steroid
injections in patients who did not show improvement despite painkillers. The study included about 128
radiofrequency (pRF) treatment was directly administered to the involved
nerve root under CT guidance for about 10 minutes
- For comparison,
CT guided localized steroid injections was given to another group of 120
- During the one
year follow-up period, pRF treatment was found to be superior and more
effective compared to steroid injections
- Relief of back and leg pain was both better and quicker with pRF
- The number of patients who perceived pain
relief and improvement was significantly higher (95%) in the pulsed
radiofrequency group compared to those who received steroid injections
The findings of the study seem to suggest that
pulsed radiofrequency (pRF) treatment is superior to current medical treatments
and steroid injections, as well as helping these patients avoid invasive and
costly surgical procedures.
Dr. Napoli says, "Given our study results, we offer pulsed radiofrequency to
patients with a herniated disk and sciatic nerve compression whose symptoms do
not benefit from conservative therapy."
Radiofrequency Treatment and Its Merits
radiofrequency (PRF) is a minimally invasive procedure using high frequency current
to stun the painful nerve root
. Although there may be an initial
flare-up of pain, it then settles down to significantly lower levels.
Pulsed Radiofrequency Treatment
- Relieves pain
faster and better
- Safe and long
- Often a single
session of 10 minutes may be sufficient
treatment and non-repetitive
- Invasive and
costly surgical procedures can be avoided
In conclusion, pulsed radiofrequency
(pRF) may be a boon to patients with intractable low back pain and for those
who wish to avoid more invasive and expensive treatments.
In the words of Dr. Napoli, "There is a big gap between conservative treatments for disk
compression and herniation and surgical repair, which can lead to infection,
bleeding, and a long recovery period. Evolving technologies like this
image-guided treatment may help a substantial number of patients avoid
- Pulsed Radiofrequency Relieves Acute Back Pain and Sciatica - (https://press.rsna.org/timssnet/media/pressreleases/14_pr_target.cfm?id=2045)