treatment of chronic lower back pain has been in the past
somewhat of a frustrating experience for the patient.
Some patients do well with physical therapy, while many
patients do not see much improvement. It is felt that
in many patients the low back pain is due to degenerative
changes that occur in the disc causing little cracks that
can become quite painful.
the past some surgeons have done extensive fusion operations
to try to immobilize the spine in an effort to help
with this back pain. This is a large operation that
requires significant degree of recovery and has surgical
new innovation has been intra discal electrothermy (IDET).
This is a procedure where a needle is placed through
the skin under x-ray guidance under local anesthetic.
The needle is inserted into the disc which is the cause
of the pain. The needle is then heated over sixteen
minutes to 90 degrees centigrade. The patient is comfortable
during the procedure. The heat softens the disc material
initially and seals over the painful cracks. At the
end of the procedure the needle is withdrawn, and the
patient is able to go home. There are no significant
restrictions aside from avoiding heavy lifting for the
first few weeks. Patients typically find that over the
next few weeks there is improvement in the lower back
discomfort. It is felt that this procedure works by
sealing the cracks and therefore eliminating the source
of the disc pain.
procedure is now being performed at St. Francis Hospital
and so far has shown quite a bit of promise in the treatment
of chronic low back pain.