Pain that involves the spinal discs is one of the most common sources of back pain. Experts estimate that anywhere from around a quarter to almost half of all back pain involves the discs. In many cases, this pain responds to conventional treatment. However, when it does not, intradiscal treatments are a highly effective option.
What Are Intradiscal Treatments?
Intradiscal electrothermal therapy is a relatively new procedure that can provide relief for chronic discogenic pain. The procedure is minimally invasive.
Intradiscal electrothermal therapy was introduced in 1997. Clinical studies suggest that it can provide relief for seven out of 10 people who suffer from lower back pain. In one study, 86% of participants began experiencing relief of symptoms within one week of the procedure. As of 2015, the procedure had been performed over 75,000 times in the US. This is also a cost-effective treatment; on average, it costs seven to eight times less than lumbar fusion surgery.
How Are Intradiscal Treatments Performed?
This minimally invasive procedure is generally performed on an outpatient basis. Your back will be sterilized at the area where the treatment will be administered. A local anesthetic and a mild sedative may be used to limit discomfort during treatment. You will remain awake and alert during the procedure so you can communicate with your doctor.
With the help of X-ray guidance, your doctor will insert a needle into the disc that is causing pain. Once the needle is in place, a catheter is introduced. The thermal catheter is gradually heated to 194 degrees Fahrenheit. Your pain level will be monitored closely. If you feel pain that is a reproduction of your usual back pain, it is an indication that the heat is being applied to the right area.
After the treatment is complete, the needle and catheter are removed. The insertion site will be bandaged and you will be ready to go home.
Recovery from Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy
You may feel discomfort at the treatment site for several days. Medication may be prescribed to make you more comfortable. Healing takes between 12 and 16 weeks. During that time, it is important to treat your spine with care. We'll provide you with physical rehabilitation guidelines to help you heal correctly. Most people start to feel relief during healing and continue to improve for up to six months after the procedure is performed. If you engage in athletic activities, you can resume them six months after your procedure.
Conditions Related to Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy Treatments
Intradiscal treatments can be helpful for individuals who suffer from herniated discs or disc degeneration. These two conditions are responsible for many people's back pain.
Intradiscal therapy helps seal annular tears that appear in the collagen covering of the disc. Additionally, it thickens the outer shell of the disc and destroys nerve receptors. When the receptors are gone, the nerves no longer have the ability to transmit pain signals. Studies have shown that intradiscal therapy can decrease pressure between the vertebral discs, which can significantly reduce pain. People who are experiencing these symptoms are most likely to receive relief from intradiscal therapy:
- Contained herniation of a disc.
- Disc height that is under 50%.
- Disc pain that has been confirmed with the use of discography or MRI.
- Chronic back pain that lasts for three to six months.
People who smoke are less likely to benefit from intradiscal therapy than the general population. This is because healing is impaired in people who smoke.
Request a Consultation
Do you have disc pain that is not responding to other treatments? Call us for a consultation. We can discuss the source of your pain and the treatment plans that can help relieve your pain and restore you to health.