Applying electric current to nerve for chronic low back pain does not provide clinically important improvement

July 3, 2017
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

In three randomized trials, treatment of chronic low back pain with radiofrequency denervation, a procedure that can be performed with different techniques including the application of an electric current to the pain-conducting nerve, resulted in either no improvement or no clinically important improvement in chronic low back pain, according to a study published by JAMA.

Low back pain causes more disability than any other condition and has major social and economic consequences. Even though denervation is a commonly used treatment, high-quality evidence for its effectiveness is lacking. Esther T. Maas, Ph.D., of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues report the results of three that were conducted in 16 pain clinics in the Netherlands. Trial participants, who were unresponsive to conservative care, had chronic low back pain originating in potential sources of the spinal column: the facet , sacroiliac joints, or a combination of facet joints, sacroiliac joints, or intervertebral disks.

All participants received a 3-month standardized exercise program and psychological support if needed. Participants in the intervention group received radiofrequency denervation as well, which is usually a 1-time procedure, but the maximum number of treatments in the trial was three.

Among 681 participants who were randomized, 599 (88 percent) completed the 3-month follow-up, and 521 (77 percent) completed the 12-month follow-up. The researchers found that two trials assessing radiofrequency denervation for the sacroiliac joints and a combination of the facet joints, sacroiliac joints, or intervertebral disks showed a statistically significant but not clinically important improvement in pain intensity three months after the intervention. No clinically important or statistically significant differences between the groups were shown in the trial assessing radiofrequency denervation for facet joint .

"The findings do not support the use of radiofrequency denervation to treat chronic from these sources," the authors write.

A limitation of the study was that because the aim was to provide evidence of the added value of radiofrequency in a multidisciplinary setting, as done in daily practice, participants and clinicians were not blinded.

Explore further: Yoga is an effective alternative to physical therapy for easing low back pain

More information: JAMA (2017). DOI: 10.1001/jama.2017.7918

Related Stories

Yoga is an effective alternative to physical therapy for easing low back pain

June 19, 2017
A study of 320 predominantly low-income, racially diverse adults with chronic low back pain found that yoga was as safe and effective as physical therapy for restoring function and relieving pain. Compared to an education ...

Ablation successful for trigeminal neuralgia in pregnancy

June 7, 2017
(HealthDay)—Trigeminal neuralgia in pregnancy can be managed successfully by conventional radiofrequency ablation of Gasserian ganglion, according to a case report published online June 2 in Pain Practice.

Implant procedure helps patients with sacroiliac joint pain

October 22, 2015
A minimally invasive implant procedure is highly effective in reducing pain and disability for patients with sacroiliac joint (SIJ) dysfunction, reports a clinical trial in the November issue of Neurosurgery, official journal ...

Radiofrequency neurotomy efficient in knee osteoarthritis

August 23, 2016
(HealthDay)—For patients with chronic knee osteoarthritis (OA) pain, radiofrequency (RF) neurotomy of genicular nerves is safe and efficient, according to a study published online Aug. 12 in the International Journal of ...

One-year data from SYMPLICITY HTN-3 confirm findings from six month analysis

September 2, 2014
Longer-term follow-up data from the SYMPLICITY HTN-3 trial confirmed both the safety and absence of clinical benefit of renal denervation, according to the 12 month results presented for the first time at ESC Congress today ...

Recommended for you

Decrease in sunshine, increase in Rickets

November 17, 2017
A University of Toronto student and professor have teamed up to discover that Britain's increasing cloudiness during the summer could be an important reason for the mysterious increase in Rickets among British children over ...

Anti-malaria drug shows promise as Zika virus treatment

November 17, 2017
A new collaborative study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) and UC San Diego School of Medicine has found that a medication used to prevent and treat malaria may also be effective ...

Scientists identify biomarkers that indicate likelihood of survival in infected patients

November 17, 2017
Scientists have identified a set of biomarkers that indicate which patients infected with the Ebola virus are most at risk of dying from the disease.

Research team unlocks secrets of Ebola

November 16, 2017
In a comprehensive and complex molecular study of blood samples from Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, published today (Nov. 16, 2017) in Cell Host and Microbe, a scientific team led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison has ...

Study raises possibility of naturally acquired immunity against Zika virus

November 16, 2017
Birth defects in babies born infected with Zika virus remain a major health concern. Now, scientists suggest the possibility that some women in high-risk Zika regions may already be protected and not know it.

A structural clue to attacking malaria's 'Achilles heel'

November 16, 2017
Researchers from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and PATH's Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) have shed light on how the human immune system recognizes the malaria parasite though investigation of antibodies generated ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.