10 Jul Back pain breakthrough comes from Neuroablation therapy
Almost everybody will experience back pain at some point in their lives. For almost 10% of the population that back pain can become a daily struggle to live a normal life. Often a pain-free future just isn’t on site. It is said that back pain is the second most common cause of disability in the United States of America. It is also the most common reason for an individual to take time off work. The treatment of back pain is controversial – and the landscape is ever-changing. For years America has been over-reliant on dishing out strong and addictive opioid painkillers – leading to a national epidemic and healthcare crisis. But as this becomes apparent to the medical community there is a desperate need for other therapies to treat troublesome back pain.
What treatments are currently available for low back pain?
Chronic back pain is treated as a ladder – with the safest and least invasive procedures trialed first before moving on to more drastic interventions. Currently, chronic low back pain is defined as pain in the lower back region for more than 3 months. Treatments include the following:
- Pain management with drugs including:
- NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as diclofenac, ibuprofen or naproxen. These work by reducing the inflammatory molecules that are released in back pain and cause signals to be sent to the brain indicating pain. Less inflammation means fewer signals means less experienced pain.
- Opioid drugs such as codeine or tramadol. However, as discussed before these are addictive medications and should not be continued long-term.
- Other drugs such as:
- Amitriptyline – this is an antidepressant that also works on the nerves to reduce pain. Often the cause of the back pain is multifaceted and it can result in a downwards and depressing spiral for a patient. This drug can help patients get some sleep at night, improve pain and mood.
- Often the best treatment is to keep moving and strengthen the muscles surrounding the back.
- Alternative therapies like Acupuncture and massage have also been shown to be effective in large-scale research trials.
- Nerve ablation therapies can destroy the pain fibers that are found in the lower back meaning that pain signals can no longer be transmitted to the brain.
Does Neuroablation actually work?
It seems like something of a miracle cure. Get rid of the nerves carrying the signals means no more pain? But does it actually work? A new study published by doctors at the University William Beaumont School of Medicine suggests it may. They took 225 patients and either had them not undergo treatment or have nerve ablation. They note that
“At 3 months, the average ODI in the treatment arm decreased 20.5 points, as compared to a 15.2 point decrease in the sham arm (p = 0.019, per-protocol population).”
In English this means that patients who had the treatment experienced significantly less pain. If you or somebody you know is suffering from chronic low back pain – consider getting in contact with a specialist for a discussion about Neuroablation.