Arthritic Back Pain Radiofrequency Denervation is Better Treatment
Following diagnostic guidelines may do you more harm than good if you have back pain, according to a new study out of Johns Hopkins. Researchers found following traditional guidelines for diagnosing the cause of arthritis-related back pain results in excessive tests, a delay in pain relief and a waste of as much as $10,000 per patient.
Arthritic back pain is difficult to diagnose on an X-ray or MRI scan. Doctors routinely perform temporary nerve blocks to prove arthritis is the culprit of the pain before they will recommend radiofrequency denervation — a procedure that interrupts nerve pain signals from arthritic joints. Upon completion of this new study, researchers concluded that the wiser plan is to skip diagnostic nerve blocks and move straight to treatment.
The whole way we’re doing this is wrong, study leader Steven P. Cohen, M.D., an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, was quoted as saying. “If we just do the radiofrequency procedure first, we’re going to help more people, and we’re going to save a lot of money.
In the study, 151 patients whose back pain fit the criteria for arthritic back pain were assigned to one of three groups: a group that received radiofrequency denervation based on clinical findings without nerve blocks; a group that received radiofrequency denervation only after a positive response to a diagnostic block; and a group that received radiofrequency denervation only after positive responses to two nerve blocks.
Results showed although success rates were higher in those who had the diagnostic blocks first (because they were more likely to have arthritis), these patients experienced long delays and multiple procedures before finally getting relief. Some may not have received any treatment at all, according to the authors.
Our goal is to get people feeling better, Dr. Cohen said. When you do two blocks, you may be wrongly weeding out many people who would actually benefit from radiofrequency denervation.” He went on to say that radiofrequency denervation is as safe as administering a diagnostic block Life&pain