Nov. 27 (UPI) -- A new minimally invasive surgery that sends pulses of energy to nerve roots near the spine could bring relief to people with acute lower back pain.
A study presented Tuesday at the annual Radiological Society of North America meeting outlines a new pulsed radiofrequency, or pRF, procedure that shoots energy from a CT-guided electrode to the area of pain caused by a herniated disk.
Lumbar disk herniation occurs when the jelly in the middle of the disk squeezes out, irritating nearby nerves. This irritation can weaken the lower back area and cause chronic pain in many people.
Traditionally, health care professionals treat herniated disks with steroid injections and, in extreme cases, they remove the damaged disk altogether.
"Given our study results, we offer pulsed radiofrequency to patients with herniated disk and sciatic nerve compression whose symptoms do not benefit from conservative therapy," Alessandro Napoli, professor at Sapienza University in Italy and study senior author, said in a statement.
Researchers say this pRF solution can help to calm the pain by numbing that area.
Lumbar disk herniation occurs when jelly in the middle of the disk squeezes out, irritating nearby nerves. This irritation can weaken the lower back area and cause chronic pain in many people.
"Pulsed radiofrequency creates a nerve modulation, significantly reducing inflammation and its associated symptoms," Napoli said.
Through his research, Napoli found that patients treated with pRF had a 95 percent "perceived recovery" rate versus a 61 percent rate for patients who only received steroid injections.
Napoli says the combination of both treatments could lead to the most effective results.
"We learned that when pulsed radio-frequency is followed by steroid injection, the result is longer lasting and more efficacious than injection only," Napoli said. "The effect of pulsed radiofrequency is fast and without adverse events."